We have over 12,000 students, from over 100 countries, within one of the safest campuses in the UK


93% of Lancaster students go into work or further study within six months of graduating

Home > Research > Researchers > Derek Gatherer
View graph of relations


Current Postgraduate Research Students

Derek Gatherer supervises 1 postgraduate research students. Some of the students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

« Back

Dr Derek Gatherer FHEA


Derek Gatherer

Furness Building

Lancaster University


Lancaster LA1 4YG

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 1524 592900

Tel (mobile): 01524 592900

Location: B77

Web: https://twitter.com/viroscape

Research overview

I work in bioinformatics, which I define very generally as anything that can be done on a computer and which is relevant to the biological sciences.  In practice, however, most of my work over the years has been on sequence analysis with a minor component of network analysis.  Having spent just over 10 years in the old MRC Virology Unit, I have also come to think of myself as something of a virologist manqué.  Viruses, as well as being fascinating in their own right, are ideal subjects for bioinformatics.  I'm lucky to have had the opportunity to work on a variety of viruses (herpesviruses, papillomaviruses, adenoviruses, polyomaviruses, hepaciviruses, parvoviruses, influenza viruses and paramyxoviruses) from many different bioinformatics research angles.

PhD supervision

Self-funding students only at present (sorry). Bioinformatics projects preferred, but lab projects considered if consumables money is available.

Current Research

Currently active projects:

  1. Modelling of self-referential [M,R] networks as X-machines.  MSc student: Michael Palmer.
  2. The Bayesian phylogenetics of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).  MSc student: Hannah Darwin.
  3. The Bayesian phylogenetics of B19 parvovirus.
  4. The Bayesian phylogenetics of Hepatitis D virus (HDV).  Collaboration with Prof Paul Deny (Paris)
  5. Influenza C: a pilot study on a neglected respiratory virus.  MRes student: Kate Atkinson.  Collaboration with Dr Mark Wilkinson (Royal Lancaster Infirmary), Dr Simon Wetherell (Queen Square Surgery) and Prof Roger Pickup (Lancaster).
  6. Sequencing of novel Leishmania.  Collaboration with Prof Paul Bates (Lancaster)
  7. Annotation of sandfly genomes, Lutzomyia and Phlebotomus.  Collaboration with Dr Rod Dillon (Lancaster).
  8. Novel insect viruses.  Collaboration with Prof Joao Marques (Minas Gerais, Brazil).
  9. Enterovirus 71 vaccine development.  Collaboration with Prof Poh Chit Laa (Sunway, Malaysia)

Research Interests

  1. The molecular evolution of viruses
  2. Self-referential networks in systems biology, and their philosophical implications
  3. Winter respiratory infections in the Lancaster area
  4. The current ebolavirus outbreak in West Africa

External Roles

Media appearances:  Interviewed extensively about Ebola virus, on Sky News Channel, BBC News 24, BBC radio (local and national) and by several newspapers.

Current Teaching

Currently I teach on the following modules:

  • BIOL113 Genetics: Introduction to Bioinformatics (lecture and workshop)
  • BIOL123 Infection & Immunity: Ebola virus disease (Panopto session)
  • BIOL243 Medical Microbiology: Viruses (lectures and workshop)
  • BIOL273 DNA Technology: Introduction to Bioinformatics (workshop)
  • BIOL313 Protein Biochemistry: Protein Evolution (lectures and workshop)
  • BIOL322 Tropical Diseases: Ebola virus disease (workshop)
  • BIOL334 Environmental Pathogens: Viruses (lectures and workshop)
  • BIOL387 Research Project: supervision
  • BIOL390 Dissertation: supervision
  • BIOL435 Microbes & Disease: Viruses and Disease (lectures and workshop)
  • FutureLearn MOOC: Ebola: Symptoms, History & origins. https://www.futurelearn.com/admin/courses/ebola

Research Grants

  1. SIFT (Service Increment for Teaching) studentship, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay (UHMB) NHS Trust, 1st September 2014 - 31st August 2015.  MRes student: Kate Atkinson
  2. Rosetrees Trust consumables grant linked to above studentship
  3. Sunway University Malaysia collaborative grant
  4. Cancer & Polio Research Fund grant linked to above Sunway grant

Additional Information

My first degree was in Genetics, and I began my scientific career as a molecular developmental biologist, in mammalian and amphibian systems, working at Imperial College School of Medicine in London.  After post-docs in Quito (where I had the opportunity to work on the Andean marsupial frog, Gastrotheca riobambae), Warwick and Cambridge, I took up as position as Lecturer in Molecular Genetics at Liverpool John Moores University.  During the end of my time in Cambridge, I became interested in how computers could be used for biology and while in Liverpool I completed the transition from the laboratory to bioinformatics, finally hanging up my labcoat for the last time in 1998.  I then moved into the pharmaceutical industry for four years where I learned how to do bioinformatics on a large scale, mostly working on analysis of the Human Genome Project dataset.  In 2003, I returned to academia at the old MRC Virology Unit in Glasgow (now part of the new MRC Centre for Virus Research), where I had the opportunity to build bioinformatics up virtually from scratch, at both hardware and software levels, and to learn a lot about viruses.  I joined Lancaster University in September 2013 and I am currently enjoying exploring ways in which I can bring a bioinformatics angle to the many diverse projects underway in this small and friendly, yet very dynamic, university.

View all (66) »