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Meet The Team

Meet our People

Julia Miskelly

Julia graduated from the University of Dundee in 1995 with a degree in Biochemistry. During her undergraduate degree she developed an interest in gene transcription which led to doctoral work on Pol I transcription, completing a PhD in 2001 in Professor Joost Zomerdijk’s group.

Julia subsequently moved to Queens University Belfast in 2002, where she was involved in understanding the mechanism of transcriptional regulation by the breast cancer susceptibility gene BRCA1.

In 2005, Julia focused her studies to developing chIP-seq protocols and taught on workshop courses at EMBL. Since 2010 Julia has been developing NGS processes for the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology,  and in 2014 was seconded to Almac diagnostics as Team Leader for NGS development in Internal Products . In 2017 was appointed manager of the newly founded FMHLS Genomics Core Technology Unit.

Simon McDade

Dr McDade is a lecturer and group leader in the centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology. Work in his Functional Genomics Group (FGG) is focussed on applying cutting edge genomics technologies and aligned integrative computational strategies to investigate transcription factor function and de-regulation in disease, with a particular interest in the p53 family. 

Prior to Dr McDade’s academic appointment, he undertook postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Professor Dennis McCance dissecting the roles played by p63 and its isoforms in differentiation, growth control and disease.  Dr McDades interest in genomics stems from work as a visiting scientist in Prof Alan Ashworth’s and Dr Chris Lord’s research group at the Institute for Cancer Research, where he developed protocols for ChIP-seq of p63 and p53 in primary cells.

Simon McDade

David Simpson

Dr Simpson obtained a BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences (1988) and PhD in Molecular microbiology (1995) at the University of Leicester. Following postdoctoral positions in the Department of Ophthalmology at Queen’s University Belfast studying diabetic retinopathy he was appointed as a Lecturer in 2001. He studied the regulation of retinal gene expression and inherited retinal degeneration and was amongst the first to exploit next generation sequencing (NGS) techniques to screen panels of candidate genes for the inherited retinal disease Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).

As a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Experimental Medicine he extended his interest in the molecular cell biology underlying diabetic vascular complications, specifically the role of microRNAs in regulating gene expression in the retina and vasculature. His molecular biology experience led him to champion uptake of NGS technology and he was instrumental in establishing the Faculty Genomics Core Technology Unit which he continues to lead academically with Dr McDade. He is currently using NGS to profile small RNAs in model systems and in blood and urine as potential prognostic markers for cardiovascular disease. Most recently he has driven investment in single cell RNA-Sequencing and is applying this new technology to a range of pathologies, specifically to study how individual cells in the retina are affected by diabetes as an approach to find new ways to treat the disease.

David Simpson

Hossein Esfandiary

Hossein graduated with a BSc (Hons) Degree and PhD from the University of Ulster in Biomedical Sciences.  Hossein then spent several years working for the department of research and development quality control at Randox laboratories.  Hossein then undertook a research fellow position at Queen’s University Belfast in the field of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. He went on to become an HCPC-Registered Clinical Scientist and has gained extensive experience in clinical diagnostic genetic testing at Belfast Regional Genetics Centre and Sheffield Children’s Hospital Molecular Genetics Laboratory.

Hossein then took on the responsibility of managing the former Genomics Core Technology Unit based at Belfast City Hospital where he gained valuable experience in sanger sequencing technology and applications.

Pauline Erwin

After graduating from the University of Ulster with a Bsc (Hons) degree in Medical Laboratory Science in 1988, Pauline started work for QUB in the Department of Surgery, RVH. Her main research interest was inflammation and infection. She completed her PhD in 'Lipopolysaccharide Binding Proteins in Acute Phase Serum' in 1996.

In 2006 Pauline changed direction and joined the Genomics Core Technology Unit as a senior technician. After retraining she worked with many external and internal customers of the unit offering a genomic service including sequencing, fragment analysis, genotyping, gene expression and methylation analysis. The unit has since combined with the new FMHLS GCTU in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology where she has extended her training to include Next Generation Sequencing.

Marc Fuchs

Marc studied Zoology, Ecology and Molecular Biology at Heidelberg University, where he spent time focusing on classical Sanger sequencing of zoological specimen and Protein analysis of fungi. Marc then took up position in Parasitological research with the Biological School of Sciences in Belfast, where he applied his experience with Sanger sequencing and quantitative gene expression analysis.

After establishing an enzyme activity assay in Health Sciences to screen for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, he moved on to the clinical genetics laboratory in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, where he gained extensive  experience in Next Generation Sequencing, working up NGS methods on three sequencing platforms: the Ion Torrent PGM and Illumina’s Miseq and Nextseq500. Aside from gaining experience in custom panel design, Marc also performed downstream analysis of NGS data using analysis platforms such as IVA,  CLC Workbench and Partek.

Marc was recruited to the genomics core in 2017 and has developed an array of NGS workflows on our various liquid handling platforms. 

Sarah Maguire

Sarah graduated from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth with a degree in Genetics and Bioinformatics. She undertook a PhD focusing on comparative genomics of fungal species at University College Dublin. She graduated in 2013 and began a post-doc at the Institute of Cancer Research working with the Complex Trait Genetics and Functional Genomics teams.

Her research focuses on the genetics and genomics of cancer predisposition. Its specific aim is to translate findings from large-scale epidemiological studies to establish correlations with tumour phenotypes and to determine the causal relationships between genomic variation and functional aetiological mechanisms.

In August 2017 she relocated to the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology and, along with her research, is responsible for the development and maintenance of analysis pipelines for the Genomics Core Technology Unit

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