Personal profile


2017 –          Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester.

2012 – 2017 Lecturer, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester.

2007 – Pres. Manchester Fellow, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, UK.

2003 – 2007 Ruth L. Kirschstein NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Integrative Genomics, University of California, Berkeley, USA, Principal Investigator: Dr. Michael Levine, Ph.D.

1997 – 2002 Doctor of Philosophy, Program in Cell and Molecular Biology, University of California, San Diego, USA, Thesis Advisor: Dr. William McGinnis, Ph.D.

1995 – 1997 Master of Science, Systematics, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, College of Arts and Sciences, USA, Thesis Advisor: Andrew P. Martin, Ph.D.

1991 – 1995 Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy and Linguistics, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, College of Arts and Sciences, USA.

Research interests

My work focuses on identification and functional characterization of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). In particular how they affect gene expression and function during differentiation. I am also pursuing how the evolution of ncRNAs may have contributed to diversification of metazoan bodyplans.

Genomic tools have provided a better description of the complete transcriptome of diverse metazoans. An unexpected finding has been the huge number of potential ncRNAs. These ncRNAs are implicated in a vast array of processes including regulation of transcription, translation, epigenetic control of chromatin, mono-allelic expression, dosage compensation and silencing. In order to better understand the role of ncRNAs in these processes my lab is focusing on one of the most highly conserved and ncRNA rich regions in metazoan genomes, the Hox complex. The Hox complex is composed of a set of related transcription factors that establish positional identity on the anterior-posterior axis. The Hox complex also contains a diverse suite of ncRNAs including miRNAs, anti-sense transcripts, transcribed enhancers and boundary elements as well as many uncharacterized transcripts. At least two of these ncRNAs, both miRNAs, have homeotic function and attenuate the actions of nearby protein coding Hox genes. The highly orchestrated expression and possibly the conserved organization of this complex may be associated with the function of these ncRNAs.

We have begun to define and visualize these ncRNAs transcripts in fly, beetle, and bee using a combination of tiling microarrays and nascent transcript fluorescent in situ hybridization. In addition, we are using genetics tools to examine the functions of these RNAs with the intent of describing their role in the development of animals. Ultimately, this comparative approach will describe both how these small RNAs function and how their evolution has contributed to the diversification of the animal bodyplan.

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 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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