Nicholas Clifton

Nicholas is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Exeter Medical School funded by a Career Development Award from the Medical Research Council. He leads research focused on patterns of gene expression and their association with psychiatric disorders.

Nicholas has a background in Neuroscience, which he studied at the University of Nottingham before undertaking a Wellcome Trust Integrative Neuroscience PhD in the Neuroscience & Mental Health Research Institute at Cardiff University. He went on to take up an Early-Career Research Fellowship and a Research Fellowship at Cardiff before acquiring his Career Development Award.

Morteza Kouhsar

Dr. Morteza Kouhsar received his MSc in Computer Science from Tarbiat Modares University in Iran. Studying in the field of computational biology motivated him to join the Laboratory of Systems Biology and Bioinformatics at the University of Tehran. He received his Ph.D. in Bioinformatics from the University of Tehran in 2019. After a year of cooperation with Amirkabir University of Technology and Sharif University as a lecturer and researcher, he moved to the UK and joined the Medical College of the University of Exeter. Now he is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Complex Disease Epigenetics Group at the medical college of the University of Exeter.

Morteza’s main background is Biological Network and Omics data analysis. He is also interested in Graph Theory and Algorithms, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, and their application in Bioinformatics.


  • PhD (2013 – 2019) Bioinformatics.
  • MSc (2011 – 2013) Computer Science.
  • BSc (2006 – 2010) Computer Science.


Windhy Cahyadi

Windhy is currently studying Medical Sciences and began a PTY placement under the supervision of Emma Dempster in September investigating cell-free DNA methylation patterns as potential biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease.

Giulia Pegoraro

Giulia completed a BSc in Bioinformatics at the University of Verona. She continued her studies there with an MSc in Molecular and Medical Biotechnology with Bioinformatics curriculum.  During this time, she was granted an Erasmus studentship at Bielefeld University, where she worked on her thesis project about the identification of leaderless transcripts in prokaryotes. Subsequently. Giulia completed an internship in EMBL Rome, where she approached the analysis of epigenetic data.

After graduation, she was employed for one year as a bioinformatician in a biotechnological Start-up in Milan, where she could deepen the use of statistical approaches in data analysis.

Giulia is particularly interested in genetics, epigenetics and transcriptomics especially related to human pathologies.

Her PhD is on Molecular characterisation of the role of systemic infections in Alzheimer’s disease brain.

Katie Curtis

Katie is currently studying Medical Sciences and began a PTY placement under the supervision of Jon Davies in September researching the epigenetics of foetal neurodevelopment.

Alice Franklin

Alice Franklin
Alice graduated from the University of Exeter with a BSc Honours degree in Natural Sciences, during which she developed a strong interest in the use of bioinformatics to understand human health and disease.
Her final year undergraduate research project focused on the evaluation of a novel statistical deconvolution tool for epigenetics research. After graduation, she joined the Complex Disease Epigenomics Group as a graduate research assistant where she is focusing on the DNA methylation changes that occur during human fetal development.

Luke Weymouth

Leonard Steg

Leo is a placement student at the Epigenomics group. With the internship, he is completing his Master’s degree in Fundamental Neuroscience at Maastricht University, the Netherlands. He grew up in Erlangen, Germany, and went to Innsbruck, Austria, for his undergraduate in Molecular Medicine. In Innsbruck, he discovered his passion for Neuroscience, while working on a CRISPR-Cas9 construct to knock-down transcripts involved in memory formation. Within his time in Maastricht he worked on DNA methylation data to investigate possible biomarker for the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Here in Exeter he will explore the epigenetic changes during differentiation and ageing of IPSC-derived neurons under the supervision of Katie Lunnon. By using different compounds to induce ageing, he wants to develop a human neuronal model for ageing-related diseases and neurodegenerative diseases.

Darren Soanes

Darren graduated with a BA in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford in 1991, before taking a PGCE in Secondary Science at the University of Sussex. He
spent four years as a Science teacher at a secondary school in Eastbourne before moving to the University of Exeter to study for an MSc in Biological Research
Methods in 1996. After that he stayed in Exeter and undertook a PhD in the laboratory of Nick Talbot studying the gene expression of the pathogenicity factor MPG1 in the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. He stayed in Nick Talbot’s group as a postdoctoral research fellow where he moved from lab-based research to bioinformatics. Darren acted as bioinformatics support for the group, analysing both transcriptomic and genomic sequence data, as well as teaching colleagues how to analyse their own datasets. He was also involved in a number of other projects analysing sequence data from species of fungal phytopathogens, as well as providing online resources for the fungal community and contributing functional annotation to a number of fungal and microbial genome sequencing projects. Since the availability of next-generation sequencing, Prof. Talbot’s group has sequenced over a 100 strains of M. oryzae from different host species and different geographical locations. Darren was involved in comparative genomic analysis of this data in order to model the evolution of M. orzyae and guide the breeding of plants that have increased resistance to this fungus. In 2018, Darren joined the Exeter Sequencing Service, processing raw sequence data and aiding researchers in their own analyses. Darren has experience in analysing multiple types of sequence data including genomic, RNA-seq, ChIP-seq and metagenomics / microbiome. He has also taught on MSc in Bioinformatics and BSc in Biological Sciences programs, as well as providing bioinformatics training courses for staff and PhD students. Darren joined Katie Lunnon’s group in 2019 where he will be using micro-RNA and RNA-sequencing of blood samples to investigate inflammatory mechanisms in patients with mild cognitive impairment and to determine if this accelerates conversion to Alzheimer’s Disease.

Yaseen Ahammed

Yaseen is a third year BSc Medical Sciences (Pharmacology and Therapeutics) student at the University of Exeter. He started his Professional Training Year (PTY) with the Complex Disease Epigenetics Group under the supervision of Asami Oguro-Ando. His project involves “Investigating the biological pathways of JAKMIP1 using Integrative network analysis associated with 15q duplication syndrome”.