Dr Ben Elsworth, BSc, MRes, PhD
Bioinformatics Research Officer,
Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Dr Elsworth graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a BSc in Zoology in 2003, obtained a Bioinformatics MRes with distinction from the University of York in 2007 and completed his PhD at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh in 2013. This latter project involved being the sole bioinformatician in the assembly and annotation of the first annelid genome using purely high throughput sequencing (HTS).
His first postdoctoral position was working in conjunction with the University of Cambridge on a second genome project, that of a developmental model butterfly. Both genome projects involved implementing bleeding edge techniques and writing novel software solutions where necessary; many of which are used regularly by researchers worldwide. A new role in the Tumour Progression group at the Garvan Institute will provide the opportunity to apply this experience and knowledge to a more focused biological problem.
With five years experience handling, storing, analysing and visualising HTS data, Dr Elsworth’s research interests lie firmly in the field of modern day sequencing-related bioinformatics. This involves being at the forefront of data generation technology, analytical methods and software design. Moreover, Dr Elsworth has demonstrated that combining all these facets, and bringing multiple data types together into a centralised resource provides an excellent environment to interrogate and analyse large and diverse volumes of data using complex queries. This approach not only provides the ability to observe the system as a whole, but also to delve into the hidden nuances within. Previous projects have demonstrated how this methodology can also allow project collaborators and ultimately the community to access the data in an instant and powerful way.
Key bioinformatics discoveries have included identifying the limitations of HTS with regards to genome and transcriptome studies. This led to the development of a novel algorithm to improve de novo HTS genome assemblies using transcriptome data and a new genome exploration environment. Biological insights within annelids have also been obtained, notably a plant cell wall degrading enzyme unique to earthworms and an expansion of P450 enzymes, which agrees with an observed adaptation to extreme environments.