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Home > Research > Researchers > Derek Gatherer
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Current Postgraduate Research Students

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

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Dr Derek Gatherer


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.

Current Research

Currently active projects:

  1. Object-oriented modelling of self-referential [M,R] networks.  MSc student: Ling Zhang.
  2. Influenza C: a pilot study on a neglected respiratory virus.  MRes student: Kate Atkinson.  Collaboration with Dr Mark Wilkinson (Royal Lancaster Infirmary) and Prof Roger Pickup (Lancaster)
  3. Sequencing of novel Leishmania.  Collaboration with Prof Paul Bates (Lancaster)
  4. Annotation of sandfly genomes, Lutzomyia and Phlebotomus.  Collaboration with Dr Rod Dillon (Lancaster)

Obviously I hope this list will grow a little in time.

Research Interests

I plan to develop the following research strands in bioinformatics:

  1. Gene expression of HSV-1 in herpetic keratitis.
  2. Grinnellian niche disruption and its effects on the evolution of avian influenza.
  3. Software for diagnostic/metagenomics analysis of viruses.

External Roles

Media appearances:  Interviewed about Ebola virus on SkyNews, 1st April 2014, 27th July 2014, 30th July 2014.  Feature item broadcast 30th July 2014: http://news.sky.com/story/1310129/ebola-cure-a-long-way-off-facts-about-virus 

Current Teaching

Currently I teach on the following modules:

  • BIOL273 DNA Technology: Introduction to Bioinformatics (workshop)
  • BIOL435 Microbes & Disease: Viruses and Disease (lectures and workshop)
  • BIOL313 Protein Biochemistry: Protein Evolution (lectures and workshop)
  • BIOL467 Drug Development from Concept to Clinic: student presentation examiner 

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

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.

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