Computational and Molecular Biology Symposium 2017

30th November and 1st December, Conway Institute, University College Dublin

Keynote speakers


Dr Laura Boykin

University of Western Australia


“Food Security Now – Our team’s story using upstream science to help smallholder farmers downstream in East Africa”


Laura Boykin is a computational biologist and group leader who uses genomics and supercomputing to help smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa control whiteflies, which have caused devastation of local cassava crops. Her lab is using genetic data to understand the virus and whitefly’s evolution. Boykin also works to equip African scientists with a greater knowledge of genomics and high-performance computing skills to tackle future insect outbreaks. Boykin completed her PhD in Biology at the University of New Mexico while working at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Theoretical Biology and Biophysics group, and is currently a Senior Research Fellow at University of Western Australia and Senior TED Fellow. She was invited to present her lab’s research on whiteflies at the United Nations Solution Summit in New York City for the signing of the Sustainable Development Goals to end extreme poverty by 2050. For more info:



Dr Shabaz Mohammed

University of Oxford




“Phosphoproteomics and its use in studying the cell cycle”


Shabaz studied Chemistry at UMIST (now The University of Manchester) and obtained his degree in 1999.  He then went on to work in the laboratory of Simon Gaskell within the field of biological mass spectrometry albeit the more fundamental side of the topic and defended in early 2003.  He then moved to Odense (Denmark) and joined the group of Ole Jensen and worked on technology development for use in studying post-translation modifications.  Here, he helped develop a method that allowed quantitative analysis of phosphorylation and its role in cellular signaling, a widely adopted method. In 2005, he moved to the laboratory of Albert Heck and continued working in the field of proteomic technologies.  In 2008, he became an Assistant Professor and started his own group. In 2013, he (once again) moved and is now an Associate Professor of Proteomics in the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He also maintains a ‘guest’ lecturer status at Utrecht University.



Prof. J. Ross Fitzgerald

University of Edinburgh




“The evolutionary genomics of bacteria at the human-animal interface”


Ross Fitzgerald is currently Director of Edinburgh Infectious Diseases, and Professor of Molecular Bacteriology at The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh. He received his PhD in Trinity College, Dublin before training as a post-doctoral research fellow at the National Institutes of Health, USA. A major research focus of his group has been understanding diversity among natural populations of pathogenic bacteria, particularly staphylococci associated with human and animal infections including bovine mastitis and canine pyoderma.  His group have employed whole genome sequencing of large numbers of bacterial isolates for investigating epidemiology and evolution. In parallel, the function of specific bacterial determinants in the emergence and success of pathogenic clones has been investigated. A particular interest is the transmission of bacteria between animal species and humans, and the molecular basis for bacterial host adaptation. In addition, a major goal is translation of fundamental discoveries into novel approaches to controlling infectious disease.



Prof. Mohamed Lamkanfi

Ghent University




“Cell death signaling at the intersection with the immune system “


Mo Lamkanfi obtained his PhD in Biotechnology with Dr. Peter Vandenabeele at Ghent University in 2004, and enjoyed postdoctoral training in immunology with Dr. Gabriel Nunez at the University of Michigan, as well as with Dr. Vishva Dixit at Genentech in San Francisco. He returned to Belgium in 2009, where he currently heads the ‘NOD-like receptor and inflammasome laboratory’ of VIB (the Flanders Institute of Biotechnology). He also is a tenured professor affiliated with the Department of Internal Medicine of Ghent University. His research group addresses the roles of ‘NOD-like receptors’ and ‘inflammasomes’ in infections, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and has described various mechanistic aspects of NLR and inflammasome signaling. He published over 100 studies in this research field with over 7000 citations and a H-index of 47. His recent recognitions and awards are a European Research council (ERC) Starting Grant (2011) and a ERC Consolidator Grant (2015); the Prize of the Flemish Scientific Foundation for Biomedical Sciences (2013); the AstraZeneca Foundation Prize for Auto-immune diseases and Rheumatology (2014); and the Baillet Latour Grant for Medical Research (2016).



Dr Claus Jorgensen

University of Manchester


“Cell signaling in context”


Dr Claus Jorgensen is a Group Leader at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, University of Manchester. He obtained his PhD at the University of Southern Denmark in 2005 after which he moved to Toronto, Canada for his postdoctoral training with Dr Tony Pawson at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute. In 2010 Dr Jorgensen established his independent career at The Institute of Cancer research, London UK and relocated to CRUK Manchester Institute in 2014.

My main research goal is to understand how cellular signalling is processed in a heterocellular environment, with an emphasis on how interactions between tumour and stromal cells drive malignant progression. While it is clear that tumour cells receive cues from the stroma (such as from the extracellular matrix and stromal cells), the polarity of exchanged signals and the impact on the cellular phenotype remains understudied. Here I will present our current approach and thinking to deciphering such heterocellular signalling networks.



Dr Victoria Sanz Moreno

King’s College London


“Combining OMICs with cell biology in cancer”


Victoria holds a BSc in Chemistry and an MSc in Biochemistry (Oviedo University, Spain). During her PhD, she focused on signalling pathways regulating cancer cell proliferation (Cantabria University, Spain). She was awarded University of Cantabria Scholarship and Lady Tata Memorial Trust Fellowship.

During her postdoctoral training at the Institute of Cancer Research (London, UK), she was supported by Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie Intra European Fellowships. For her postdoctoral work, she received the European Association for Cancer Research 40th Anniversary Research Award in her efforts to understand Rho GTPase signalling regulating cancer cell migration.

Victoria Sanz-Moreno is a group leader at the Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics, King’s College London. In 2011, she was awarded a Cancer Research UK Career Development Fellowship and in 2017 a Cancer Research UK Senior Fellowship.

Victoria’s group investigates molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of cancer cell migration and its connections to the transcriptional machinery. Victoria’s group has discovered how signalling pathways regulated by the cytoskeleton crosstalk with transcription factors to sustain cell migration during cancer metastatic dissemination. For this work, Victoria has been given the 2017 BSCB Women in Cell Biology Early Career Medal.



Dr Evangelia Petsalaki



“Integrative studies of cell signaling regulation”


Evangelia Petsalaki is a research Group Leader at the EMBL-EBI in Hinxton, since February 2017. Her group uses interdisciplinary approaches including data-driven network inference, modelling of cell processes and data integration to understand how different environmental or genetic conditions affect cell signalling responses leading to diverse cell phenotypes. She did her PhD at the EMBL and the University of Heidelberg (2009) on structural bioinformatics and did her post doctoral work (2010-2016) at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto on proteomics, phosphoproteomics, Rho signaling, high throughput protein interaction screening and yeast genetics.