Principal Investigator and Chair in Food Systems Biology, Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS)

Personal Interests

Travel, Foodie, craft-beer, seeing a live music gig at least once a week, a retired radio presenter

Research Interests

  • Systems Biology
  • Non-coding RNAs
  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Micro- and nonoplastics
  • Racial differences in prostate cancer
  • Space-Omics
  • Epigenetics & addiction
  • Genotype-phenotype toolkits

Research Summary

My laboratory works in the field of systems biology the objective of which is the study of biological systems, including genes, RNAs, proteins, metabolites and cells in a focused manner, and organs, organisms and populations in a broader context.

Areas of research focus include:

  • Studying the effects of man-made contaminants (e.g. microplastics, persistent organic pollutants, xenobiotics) on marine and human health

  • Studying prostate cancer in the context of racial differences and nutritional deficiency

  • Examining the impacts of long term space travel – specifically the effects of nutrition, torpor, space radiation and microgravity on hepatic and intestinal biology

  • Developing a rat model of opioid abuse to better understand the biological basis for substance abuse disorders and advance development of preventive strategies and more efficacious treatments

  • Developing a robust toolkit for better integration of Omics data sets into genotype-phenotype predictions.

  • Studying the role of noncoding RNAs in the development of cancer and metabolic diseases

Working with the group

I am open to PhD applications from individuals holding or expecting to hold at least a 2.1 degree (or equivalent) in the fields of computer science, bioinformatics, biochemistry, microbiology or marine biology.

A strategy for obtaining funding for a PhD is required.

Applicants should be interested in computational biology approaches, multi-omics data integration and systems and network biology.

Individuals interested in working in my group at Queen’s University Belfast are welcome to contact me to discuss ideas and/or possible collaborations

Positions of Employment/ Honorary Fellowships/Awards:

Year Role Organisation
2020- Present CTO Altomics Datamation Ltd
2019-Present Fellow Royal Society of Biology
2019-Present Academic Staff Queen’s University Marine Laboratory
2018-Present Professor (Full) School of Biological Sciences & Chair in Food Systems Biology, Institute for Global Food Security, QUB, N. Ireland, UK.
2018-Present Adjunct Professor Department of Medicine, MUSC, Charleston, SC
2016-2019 Adjunct Professor Grice Marine Laboratories, College of Charleston, SC, USA
2016-2018 Head Laboratory for Marine Systems Biology, Hollings Marine Laboratory, SC, USA
2015-2018 Professor (Full) Department of Public Health Sciences, MUSC, Charleston, SC, USA
2014-2018 Director Center for Genomics Medicine, Bioinformatics, MUSC, Charleston, SC, USA
2014-2018 Professor (Full) Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), Charleston, SC, USA
2008-2014 Adjunct Professor Bioinformatics & Medical Informatics Research Center (BMIRC) and Computational Science Research Center (CSRC), San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA
2009-2013 Associate Professor Department of Medicine, UCSD, La Jolla, CA, USA
2003-2009 Assistant Professor Department of Medicine, UCSD, La Jolla, CA
2000-2013 Founding Director University of California San Diego (UCSD) Biomedical Genomics Facility, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
1998-2000 Senior Scientist Axys Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, MA; La Jolla, CA & San Francisco, CA, USA

Editorial Positions - Current

Year Role Title / Organisation
2020 - Present Special Issue Editor Genetic Analysis of Animal Models to Understand the Genomic Architecture of Substance Use Disorders - Frontiers in Psychiatry/Psychopharmacology
2020 - Present Editorial Board ACS ES&T Water
2020 - Present Special Issue Editor Systems Analytics and Integration of Big Omics Data - Genes (Basel), MDPI
2018 - Present Editorial Board Science of The Total Environment (STOTEN)
2017 - Present Editorial Board Biotech (Formerly High-Throughput) (Basel), MDPI
2017 - Present Editorial Board Genes (Basel), MDPI
2017 - Present Associate Editor Psychopharmacology (specialty section of Frontiers in Psychiatry – focus on Big Data)
2014 - Present Editorial Board Journal of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Obesity (J SciMed Central)
2007 - Present Editorial Board ‘Expert Review of Molecular Diagnostics’ (Taylor and Francis)
1998 - Present Editorial Board ‘Pharmacogenomics’ (PG) (ISSN 1462-2416)


  • B.Sc.(Hons) in Microbiology, 1985-1989

    National University of Ireland, Galway

  • Ph.D. Microbiology/Molecular Biology (Prof. Frank Gannon), 1989-1993

    National University of Ireland, Galway

  • Visiting Graduate Student, (Dr. Frank Talamantes, PI), 1992

    University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA

  • Post-doctoral Research Fellow Molecular Biology (Dr. Frank Lee, PI), 1993-1994

    DNAX Research Inst. (MERCK), Palo Alto, CA

  • Post-doctoral Research Fellow Molecular Biology/Bioinformatics (Dr. J. Fernando Bazan, PI), 1994-1998

    DNAX Research Inst. (MERCK), Palo Alto, CA