Bio

Nick is Professor of Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics at the Institute of Microbiology and Infection (School of Biosciences) at the University of Birmingham. He graduated with a degree in Pathology (Infection & Immunity) from Imperial College in 2001, and in Medicine from Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry in 2004. After working as a junior doctor, he subsequently gained a PhD in Comparative Bacterial Genomics at the University of Birmingham in 2012. Nick's research focuses on the development of cutting-edge sequencing technologies and novel bioinformatics methods to help enable new applications in public health and clinical microbiology. He work focus on outbreak response, pathogen surveillance and infectious disease diagnostics including rapid detection of antimicrobial resistance.

Research interests

Sequencing data, e.g. from portable nanopore sequencing devices offer the potential for a low-cost, rapid diagnostic tests for virus and bacterial diseases. At the Turing, Nick will focus on analysis of very large (> petabyte) genome sequencing datasets from microbial (including viruses and bacteria) populations and communities. This information will help understand how pathogens evolve, and how genome information can predict important characteristics of microbes, including antibiotic resistance and virulence. Working with colleagues from the Turing he will explore new machine learning techniques to help make such inferences in order to help reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance and to help in the control and treatment of infectious diseases.

Achievements and awards

Nick is interested in new technologies and approaches to the investigation of outbreaks and epidemics. In 2011 he kick-started a consortium that analysed a large European outbreak of E. coli originating from Germany through an open analysis of genomic data conducted online and real-time. In 2015 he established real-time genomic surveillance of the Ebola epidemic by establishing (with Public Health England and the European Mobile Labs) nanopore sequencing technology into Guinea. This outbreak response provided real-time open datasets which in turn generated vital epidemiological evidence of how Ebola virus evolved and spread, including revealing new insights into Ebola virus persistence in survivors.