As we approach a day where access to genetic information becomes ‘too cheap to meter’, a key challenge remains the analysis and interpretation of this data in biological and clinically relevant contexts. Addressing these challenges will have many spin-off applications.
I was a first-batch graduate of the UCC genetics program and subsequently studied transcriptional regulatory networks and their intersection with antibiotic resistance genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa for my doctoral work at the BIOMERIT Research Centre (UCC).
In 2012 I moved to the research group of Prof. Tom Rogers where we I helped to establish a microbial genomics sequencing program working with St. James’s Hospital and the TrinSeq core sequencing facility at Trinity College Dublin. This has resulted in successful research funding applications to Astellas Pharma Ireland, the Healthcare Infection Society, the Health Research Board, and the Irish Research Council.
My current IRC-funded research focuses on developing user-friendly software platforms for the analysis of pathogen genomes in collaboration with NSilico Life Sciences (www.nsilico.com). Our vision is for integration of big data approaches in healthcare toward better treatment outcomes in infectious disease. Specifically, we are trying to understand how the bacterial genetic code and large-scale genome sequencing can be leveraged as a diagnostic tool in tracking disease transmission and predicting antibiotic drug resistance. I am also interested in the human microbiome and its role in health and disease. Here, we seek to answer how metagenomic data from clinical samples can be exploited both as a diagnostic tool and potential therapeutic target in future precision medicine applications.