Thursday 15 November 2012

Postdoctoral Positions in Pathogen Genomics

These positions are now closed. There are currently seven posts advertised to join the Pathogen Genomics group at the Nuffield Department of Medicine in Oxford. Prof Derrick Crook and colleagues are seeking exceptional, creative, quantitatively minded scientists to join a multidisciplinary team of researchers using population genomics to understand the evolution and transmission of human pathogens. We are seeking to appoint a number of promising young researchers to extend our existing strengths in the areas of phylogenomics, statistical genetics and bioinformatics.

The group is studying a range of bacterial and viral pathogens including tuberculosis, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium difficile, HIV, norovirus and hepatitis C virus. Our research interests include within-host evolution, the genetic basis of virulence, transmission dynamics and outbreak investigation via real-time genomics.

A major translational goal of the project is to exploit the transformative effect of population genomics on bacteriology to improve routine clinical practice in public health and microbiology laboratories.

The research is supported by the UKCRC Modernising Medical Microbiology Consortium, the Health Innovation Challenge Fund, the NHS National Institute for Health Research, the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Institut Merieux and the Oxford Martin School, and pursued in collaboration with clinical colleagues in Leeds, Birmingham and Brighton, the Health Protection Agency and the WTSI.
The deadline for applications varies by position, between 26-28 November 2012.
For examples of recent papers see:

For more information visit:

Monday 5 November 2012

James Martin Fellowship

This position is now closed. A prestigious James Martin Fellowship funded by the Oxford Martin School is available in my research group for a highly motivated and creative population geneticist interested in developing cutting edge methods for the analysis of high-throughput whole genome sequencing data to better understand the evolution and epidemiology of the major pathogens HIV and Hepatitis C Virus.

The position, which is part of the Curing Chronic Viral Infections project, is fully funded for three years and is affiliated with the Institute for Emerging Infections, the Modernising Medical Microbiology consortium, the Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research and the Nuffield Department of Medicine. The ideal candidate will have a track record in statistical or computational genetics and experience of programming in a language such as C++ or Java.

Full details can be found on the University of Oxford Recruitment website. Please send informal enquiries, with a CV, to me by email. The deadline for applications is 12 noon on 27th November 2012.

Friday 7 September 2012

PLoS Pathogens Review Published!

Published today in PLoS Pathogens:

Thursday 16 August 2012

gammaMap available for download

The software gammaMap - which implements the analyses developed in Wilson, Hernandez, Andolfatto and Przeworski (2011) PLoS Genetics 7: e1002395 - is available for download. It is provided as part of a flexible program called GCAT (general computational analysis tool) which is designed to rapidly facilitate novel variations on the standard analyses. GCAT has its own google code page, GCAT resembles BEAST and BUGs in that a statistical model is specified (using XML) and parameters are then estimated using MCMC or maximum likelihood. Future extensions to GCAT are planned that implement new fast approximations to gammaMap and omegaMap, and parallel processing, allowing the analyses to be scaled more readily to whole genomes.

Monday 13 August 2012

Nature Reviews Genetics: Transforming Clinical Microbiology

My colleagues Xavier Didelot, Rory Bowden, Tim Peto, Derrick Crook and I have just published a review online ahead of print in Nature Reviews Genetics called Transforming clinical microbiology with bacterial genome sequencing.

You might also be interested to read a similarly themed review recently published by our friends at the University of Cambridge and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in PLoS Pathogens titled Routine use of microbial whole genome sequencing in diagnostic and public health microbiology.

These review articles follow hot on the heels of a pair of research articles published by our two groups: A pilot study of rapid benchtop sequencing of Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile for outbreak detection and surveillance in BMJ Open and Rapid whole-genome sequencing for investigation of a neonatal MRSA outbreak in the New England Journal of Medicine. The common thread is the impact of near-to-real-time whole genome sequencing on outbreak detection and other translational activities in hospitals and public health laboratories.

Friday 20 July 2012

Post-doc Positions in Pathogen Genomics

Post-doc positions in Pathogen Genomics are available in my group and Derrick Crook's lab. We will be hiring people to work on pathogen whole genome sequence analysis and bioinformatics. More details available soon. In the meantime, find out about our research:
If you are interested, please get in touch.

Monday 5 March 2012

PNAS paper on staphylococcal evolution during infection

Today in PNAS Early Edition my colleagues and I have a paper published reporting the genome evolution of Staphylococcus aureus during the transition from prolonged nasal carriage to invasive disease. Since Staph. aureus, a major bacterial cause of life-threatening infections, is carried without symptoms by a quarter of healthy adults, a natural question is to ask what genetic changes - if any - accompany the transition to invasive disease. The opportunity to pursue this question arose from a detailed epidemiological investigation of asymptomatic Staph. aureus nasal carriage set up by colleagues of mine including Derrick Crook and Kyle Knox. The study has recruited over 1,000 participants in Oxfordshire since it began running in October 2008. One participant developed a bloodstream infection that was indistinguishable from the strain of Staph. aureus persistently carried in the nose for the previous 13 months. Members of the Modernising Medical Microbiology consortium, led by Derrick and Rory Bowden, sequenced the genomes of 68 bacterial colonies isolated from the nasal and blood samples from this participant, and 101 colonies from nasal samples from two other participants that did not go on to develop disease. Bernadette Young and Tanya Golubchik analyzed the genome evolution of these bacterial populations, discovering an unusual pattern in the mutations that occurred between nasal carriage and invasive disease: mutations that led to prematurely truncated proteins were significantly over-represented, including one in a gene previously associated with virulence in bacteria. To know more, read the full open access article.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

SMBE 2012: Microbial Genome Evolution Symposium

Along with my colleagues Xavier Didelot, Ed Feil, Eduardo Rocha and Howard Ochman, I will be organizing a symposium on Microbial Genome Evolution at the 2012 meeting of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution in Dublin, Ireland. The deadline for abstract submission is 27th January 2012. This is the synopsis for our symposium:
High-throughput sequencing makes it possible for the first time to sequence hundreds of microbial genomes rapidly at low cost. These methods have huge potential to significantly improve our understanding of microbial evolution, so that many research projects have recently been set up to generate and analyze such data. This symposium will provide an overview of the progress made by such projects, as well as the many challenges they pose. It is now possible to identify the vast majority of SNPs within large population samples of microbial isolates. These datasets are illuminating the molecular, ecological and population-level dynamic processes occurring over short time scales in natural populations inhabiting a range of habitats from the clinic to the environment. We aim to  explore these recent advances and the development of new methods of analyses required to fully exploit these extremely large sequence datasets. Relevant topics include quantifying the variation in the rates of recombination and mutation between closely related lineages, the evolution of base composition, the relative power of drift and selection, examining the acquisition of adaptive traits (e.g. antibiotic resistance, host adaptation, metabolic flexibility, regulatory changes) within a phylogenetic framework, and the distribution of variation over time and space (phylogeography). The role of phage and conjugative elements in structuring populations as both vehicles for gene flow and parasitic elements will also be considered. The symposium will focus on variation within natural populations rather than experimental evolution.