Profile: Senior Scientist, SickKids Research Institute
Department: Biochemistry, University of Toronto
As a computational biologists, my teams research interests focus on the integration of genomics, systems biology and bioinformatics to study the emergence of biological complexity. Exploiting computational models, we are currently exploring the contribution of microbes and microbial communities in human health and disease. For example, parasites such as Plasmodium, Toxoplasma and helminthic worms cause significant child mortality and morbidity worldwide. Despite their significance, few drugs are available and resistance is emerging. Applying systems-based approaches, my team develops methods to predict metabolic pathways to understand the emergence of drug resistance and reveal enzyme targets that may be exploited for therapeutic intervention. More recently, my team’s research has extended to complex microbial communities (microbiomes), establishing the use of whole microbiome RNASeq (metatranscriptomics) to functionally interrogate microbiomes. Working with clinicians at Sickkids, we are applying this revolutionary technology to identify microbial factors that contribute to child health, as well as their role in a variety of diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, obesity and malnutrition.