Computational Biologist joins IFR and TGAC to better understand gut diseases.

Tamás Korcsmáros

Tamás Korcsmáros

Tamás Korcsmáros has been appointed as a Computational Biology Fellow at The Genome Analysis Centre and in the Institute of Food Research (IFR), from 17 March 2014.

Tamás’ joint appointment builds on TGAC’s computational biology strengths and the IFR’s expertise in gut bacteria research to better understand how certain diseases of the gut develop.

During his appointment as a Computational Biology Fellow at TGAC, joint with the Institute of Food Research (IFR), Tamás will study systems regulation of cellular self-eating, or autophagy, in humans.  Autophagy is an important mechanism biological systems use to get rid of dead or malfunctioning cells. In the gut, host-pathogen interaction is important for intestinal homeostasis; malfunction of autophagy is related to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and cancer progression. A better understanding of the effect of particular bacterial species on the regulation of human intestinal autophagy could help to identify prognosis markers for IBD and colon cancer. By applying network methodologies Tamás will investigate how foodborne pathogens or probiotics affect autophagy, and how antibiotics treatments could influence intestinal autophagic activity by changing the gut microbiota.

Tamás started his research at Semmelweis Medical University and went on to graduate as a biologist from the Eötvös Lorand University in Budapest. During his PhD studies, Tamás developed the gap-filling signalling and network database (SignaLink) and subsequent Network Biology research group (NetBiol). His current research is focused on the regulation of autophagy in cancer, and the group performs systems-level analyses to facilitate follow-up experiments within the nematode C. elegans, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and utilising human clinical and cell culture data.

In Budapest, Tamás lectured undergraduates and established a bioinformatics Masters course in systems biology. He has been a trainer for numerous Institutions, including: TGAC, FEBS and EMBL-EBI. Tamás is also the Chairman of the Research Student Foundation, supporting 5000 secondary school research students.

The fellowship programme is a new venture for TGAC, working with our Norwich Research Park (NRP) partners. The programme offers outstanding early-career computational biologists the opportunity to establish themselves as scientific leaders within a dynamic research environment.

Director at TGAC, Mario Caccamo, said: “I am thrilled to welcome Tamás to the NRP as our second appointment of the TGAC fellowship programme in computational biology. Tamás will develop bioinformatics methods by applying his expertise to key priority areas for both TGAC and IFR, where his research will contribute to improve our understanding of the dynamics of the gut microbiome.”

Professor Simon Carding, who leads IFR’s research programme on Gut health and Food Safety, said: “We’re very excited about working with Tamás. The complexity of the gut microbiota and its interactions with our bodies demand the sort of network biology approaches Tamás brings. This really demonstrates how the complementary expertise of the Norwich Research Park partners works together to tackle these sorts of complex problems and, eventually, improve health.”

The Fellowship is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, who provide strategic funding to the IFR and TGAC.

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