Epigenetics is the study of heritable modifications to gene expression which are not a consequence of any changes in the DNA sequence. Whether repressing specific genes, or inactivating entire chromosomes, the epigenome seems to be highly dynamic in its regulation of gene expression.
I’m investigating the role that epigenetic modifications play in regulating the transcriptional machinery. Cytosine methylation (5mC) has been extensively studied for almost 70 years and is the most common epigenetic mark with over 70% of all CpGs being symmetrically methylated in mammals. Hydroxy-methylation, 5hmC, is the second most common epigenetic modification and has been associated with highly expressed genes. My project involves elucidation of the effect that methylation (5mC) and hydroxy-methylation (5hmC) have on different stages of transcription, e.g. initiation and elongation, through computational analysis of polymerase occupancy assays.
I did a BA in Mathematics at Trinity College Dublin, with a focus on statistics and data analysis. After completing a summer internship in the Huber group at EMBL, Heidelberg, I decided to delve into bioinformatics through an MPhil in Computational Biology at Cambridge University. I’ve always been interested in biology so applying the skills learnt during my undergraduate to genomic data seemed like a very logical step.