Today we say farewell to Arjun Sharma & Suman Virdee. Arjun joined the lab as a second year volunteer, staying to perform a Biochem 3R06 research project. He has been very active in our Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database project, co-developing our CARD*Shark text mining tools for computer-guided curation of literature in PubMed, pipelines for our clinical isolate genome sequencing work, and developing novel algorithms for predicting glycopeptide resistance from genome assemblies. He was the recipient of an IIDR Summer Student Fellowship and leaves the Biochemistry program to enter medical school at the University of Toronto. Suman joined the lab in the 4th year of the Biomedical Discovery & Commercialization program, performing her thesis research on RNA-Seq bioinformatics workflows in a collaboration between our lab and the laboratory of Dr. Kristen Hope (McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute), extending her research into the summer by winning a CIHR Summer Undergraduate Research Award. Suman finished her degree and this September starts in the McMaster Master of Science in Global Health program. Bon chance Suman & Arjun!
Suman Virdee – Developing a Galaxy based Pipeline for RNA-Seq Analysis in Stem Cell Biology
Kirill Pankov – The Cytochrome P450 (CYP) Superfamily in the Cnidarian Phylum
Jonsson Liu – Clinical virulence detection and Clostridium difficile clonality
Annie Cheng – Predicting Plasmid-Mediated Antimicrobial Resistance from Whole Genome Sequencing
Godwin Chan – Using the Galaxy Platform to Increase Accessibility for Structure Determination via Cryo-Electron Microscopy
3rd year Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences student Tammy Lau has joined us for her Biochem 3A03 (Biochemical Research Practice) course. Tammy will be collaborating with Dr. Lesley MacNeil in development of a bioinformatics pipeline for a new technology for tissue-specific expression profiling in the important model organism C. elegans. Support from this project comes from a new Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (McMaster) Research Grant. Welcome Tammy!
The completion of the human genome project in 2001 sparked the beginning of a sequencing revolution with applications that are only now being realized by researchers. The decreasing cost of DNA sequencing has ignited a continuous generation of genomic data with a limited number of researchers able to manipulate the output. Consequentially the demand to examine this genetic information has forced bioinformaticians to improve the analytical tools involved in sequence analysis. Galaxy is a user-friendly analytical platform where researchers without a computational background can navigate their way through an investigation and use various analytical tools and workflows to assist them with their genomic research (1). Galaxy enables the addition of novel software into the environment by individual users to fill in the gaps of tools that haven’t been created by the Galaxy team. This project will focus on a particular analytical gap concerning tools related to antibiotic resistance, phylogenetics, and bacterial virulence. Currently, the proposed software to be adapted to the galaxy setting includes a resistance gene identifier (RGI) associated with the comprehensive antibiotic resistance database (CARD) (2), a single nucleotide polymorphism identifier (BANSP) , and novel virulence factor identification software associated with the virulence factor database (VFDB) (3). The combination of Galaxy’s existing ToolShed and these unique additions will create a comprehensive analytical environment that can be applied to realistic situations. One such situation that this project will concentrate on refers specifically to the outbreaks of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) in the health care system.
The loss of effective antimicrobials is reducing the ability to protect the global population from infectious diseases, leading to profound impacts on the healthcare system, international trade, agriculture, and environment. The field of antibiotic drug discovery and the monitoring of the dynamic and new antibiotic resistance elements have yet to fully exploit the power of the genome revolution. The curation and directed development of the Comprehensive Antibiotic Database (CARD) will advance the understanding of the genetics, genomics, and threat severity of antibiotic resistance, while simultaneously improving its ability to accurately predict and screen for antibiotic resistance genes within raw genomes. Strategically advancing the Antibiotic Resistance Ontology (ARO), the unique organizing principle of the CARD, allows the value of big data in disparate realms of research to be used and understood by the multidisciplinary efforts working to combat the emergence and prevalence of the ESKAPE pathogens, a critical driving force of the global health crisis.
I spent July travelling to two great meetings in the British Isles. First was the Galaxy Community Conference in Norwich, UK which provided a crash course on the Galaxy Platform for data analysis – data intensive biology for everyone! We will definitely be using Galaxy for projects in 2015-2016. Second was the 2015 Annual Conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology / European Conference on Computational Biology joint meeting in Dublin, Ireland. This meeting covers a very broad spectrum of computational biology and our work on the CARD was well received. I also got a change to attend the Bio-Ontologies SIG for the first time, which provided a lot of perspective for our ontology development efforts. And yes, I had a few pints with colleagues…
- McArthur, A.G. 2015. Flash Update – The Antibiotic Resistance Ontology. Presentation at Bio-Ontologies 2015, Dublin, Ireland.
- McArthur, A.G., Waglechner, N., Nizam, F., Pereira, S.K., Jia, B., Sardar, D., Westman, E.L., Pawlowski, A.C., Johnson, T., Lo, R., Courtot, M., Brinkman, F.S., Williams, L.E., Frye, J.G., & Wright, G.D. 2015. The Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database. Poster Presentation at the 23rd Annual International Conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology, Dublin, Ireland.
Amos Raphenya and Pearl Guo have joined the McArthur Lab! Amos graduated from McMaster with Bachelor of Computer Engineering in 2008 and joins the lab as a core software engineer, for both our drug resistance and ecotoxicogenomics projects. Pearl just finished her second year at the University of Waterloo’s Computer Science co-op program, with a minor in Bioinformatics. Pearl will be performing a 3 month co-op position in the lab, with a focus on algorithms for prediction of glycopeptide resistance.