Bioinformatics and Imaging

Professor Peter Hamilton, Lead Investigator

The Cancer Bioinformatics (CBI) group, which was established in 2009, forms part of the Clinical Research Division.  The group consists of scientists with expertise across a broad spectrum ranging from Computational Biology, Computer Vision and Machine Learning to Systems and Network Biology. 

In the era of high-throughput data, quantitative methods are key for elucidating biological processes.  For complex diseases like cancer the deciphering of molecular signatures and networks for diagnostic and treatment modalities form major challenges for translational and experimental cancer research. The aim of the group is to develop novel computational and statistical methods and to engage in interdisciplinary collaborative research by working closely together with biologists and clinicians across the CCRCB, providing the interface between data and understanding.

Developing innovative research programmes in Cancer Bioinformatics is a priority of the team.  Key research areas include:

  • Computational Biology and Biostatistics;
  • Pathway analysis, causal inference of regulatory networks and integration of genetics and genomics data;
  • Tissue Imaging, Analytics and Biomarker Discovery;
  • High-throughput analysis of genomic and image data;
  • Quantitative methods in disease-genes-drugs connection discovery;
  • Biomolecular Structure Prediction;
  • Data integration.

The research of the group spans a wide range from basic research and method development to their applications. The group has specific interests in drug resistance and various types of complex diseases like lung cancer, colorectal cancer, cervical cancer and haematological malignancies.

The group has a strong interest in Tissue Imaging and Pathology Informatics and works closely with the Northern Ireland Molecular Pathology Laboratory (NI-MPL) and the Northern Ireland Biobank (NIB) to achieve these goals.  It has one of the most extensive digital pathology laboratories in the UK, with scanning technologies, image and TMA management software and image analysis  capabilities for quantitative biomarker discovery, validation and translation.  The team have been developing new algorithms for biomarker measurements and a novel “integromics” platform for the management of phenotypic and genotypic data from cancer tissues.

In addition, the group takes a leading role in the education and mentoring of students and scientists to provide them with a deeper knowledge and understanding of modern quantitative methods as needed to cope with the data revolution in biology and medicine. Furthermore, the group aims to generate a public awareness of the current exciting developments in quantitative cancer research.