What I do
I apply systems biology approaches to genomic data to reveal and drug critical disease processes occurring in cancer and neurodegeneration. This strategy can be used to build and implement systems that allow discovery of key target genes and processes involved in cancer, complex diseases and drug response. I have been funded by key industry partners, including Biogen Inc., to develop translational pipelines for target prioritization. My bibliography details research I care about
My past activities
I moved to Boston in 2019 from the UK, where I was professor and chair of computational biology at the Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience in the Department of Neuroscience and Department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield. Before going to the UK, I was an associate professor of bioinformatics and computational biology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. I have been visiting faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and I was the founding director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute Center for Stem Cell Bioinformatics. I started my career in South Africa where I founded the South African National Bioinformatics Institute.
I received my bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Wales, Cardiff, and my doctorate degree in molecular genetics from Temple University, Philadelphia. I performed postdoctoral training at the University of Texas, Houston, at the Baylor College of Medicine and at the Smithsonian Institution Museum of Natural History. I gained industry experience in Silicon Valley at the MasPar Computer Corporation while serving as director of genomics.
Early work in South Africa
I founded the South African National Bioinformatics Institute, where I coauthored the South African Government Biotechnology Strategy. I won the Oppenheimer Foundation Distinguished Sabbatical Research Fellowship in 2007 and received the Oppenheimer medal.
I was elected into the Academy of Science of South Africa in 2007 and recognized as a Legend of South African Science in 2017. I was the first recipient of the “International Society for Computational Biology Award for Outstanding Achievement,” given in recognition of my work for the development of computational biology and bioinformatics in Africa.
Top three awards
• Harry Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Fellowship Award
• National Research Foundation President’s Award
• Associate Professorship at Harvard
What people do not know
My years at the University of the Western Cape were not without real challenges, and they demanded of me considerable reliance on my ethical principles. I am, a spiritually- orientated person, just as happy reflecting on my place in nature, as I am writing a scientific paper; and blessed with an ability to see, appreciate and help to develop the potential in others.