Personal profile

Research overview

I am a molecular microbiologist and computer biologist with an interest in pathogenomics and the application of genomics in public health. I have over 23 years’ experience in bacterial whole genome sequencing (WGS), 13 of which were as a member of Pathogen Sequencing Unit at The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, responsible for sequencing and analysis of the genomes of a wide range of microbial pathogens. Since moving to the University of St Andrews in 2013, I have established a translational genomics research group working closely with academic, NHS and public health partners. My work has focused on using WGS as a research tool to investigate the evolution of pathogens and their ability to cause disease, and also as a clinical tool to identify outbreaks and trace the spread of infectious diseases. I have acted as the genomics lead for the CSO funded SHAIPI consortium tackling nosocomial infections in Scotland and led NIHR funded HATUA and CARE consortia investigating the burden and drivers of antibacterial resistance (ABR) and impact of COVID-19 on ABR in East Africa.

Profile Keywords

Pathogen Genomics, Antibiotic Resistance, Public Health Genomics, Bacterial Evolution, MRSA, SARS-CoV-2

Other expertise

In 2017, I started a seconded role as an Honorary Consultant within Public Health Scotland (PHS) acting as a WGS advisor overseeing the implementation of end-to-end WGS sequencing services in the Scottish Microbiology Reference Laboratories. From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, I took up a more substantive secondment in the Public Health Microbiology Group of PHS, as the strategic lead for SARS-CoV-2 genomics and the PHS COG-UK lead, and have been responsible for integrating SARS-CoV-2 genomics into the public health response in Scotland. More recently, my work has focused on using WGS and bioinformatics capacity built up for SARS-CoV-2 to expand the repertoire of pathogen sequencing services in Scotland. My role has involved facilitating the effective integration of WGS data into multiple teams within the organisation, which has been achieved by building up a bioinformatics team in PHS and colaberated with colleagues and end users to design and implement analytical and reporting pipelines. In establishing and expanding the SARS-CoV-2 service I have worked closely with partners across NHS, public health agencies, academia and Scottish and UK governments and gained experience in every step of the implementation process, including operational and strategic elements.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

External positions

Adjunct Professor in Clinical Microbiology, University of Southern Denmark

2021 → …

Head of Genomics, Public Health Microbiology Group, Public Health Scotland

2020 → …

Whole Genome Sequencing Advisor, Public Health Microbiology Group, Health Protection Scotland



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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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