Victoria is a bioinformatics PhD student working in the Translational Systems Biology Group at the Centre for Host-Microbiome Interactions. She uses bioinformatics techniques and high-performance computing to investigate the spread of antimicrobial resistance from metagenomic datasets. Previous research using metagenomics has focussed on characterising the resistome in the gut, but little has been done in other body sites and how this implicates resistance being acquired and maintained across the body. To investigate this further, Victoria has characterised the antimicrobial resistance gene (ARG) profiles, or “resistome”, in the oral cavity and compare this with the gut across human populations from China, Fiji and the US. This work can be found here.
Not only can ARGs in microbes spread across human populations, ARGs can also be transferred between microbes themselves. ARGs are associated to mobile genetic elements, such plasmids and transposons, that transfer between microbes via a process called horizontal gene transfer. Victoria is currently focussing on developing the first tool to identify transposons associated to ARGs from metagenomic data.
Phages are another type of mobile genetic element where whether or not they are involved in ARG transfer is still under contention. Victoria is working with Colin Hill’s lab at University College Cork to characterise phages in the oral cavity and gut, and their association with ARGs. Her supervisors are Dr David Moyes (KCL), Dr David Gomez-Cabrero (NavarraBiomed, Spain) and Prof Peter Mullany (UCL).
Alongside her PhD, Victoria is founder of Researc/hers Code, a community supporting women in computer science in research and academia. Researc/hers Code run workshops to help early-career researchers learn tech skills, including “Introduction to Machine Learning”, “Introduction to Linux with Azure” and “Creating your own personal website”. Victoria also hosts a podcast interviewing female researchers working with computer science and technology.
Victoria’s expertise in biotech and data science has led her to work at several start-ups, as President of Innovation Forum at King’s College London, as a Developer at Blue Ridge Bioinformatics, and as a Data Scientist for the AdTech start-up, LiveRamp.