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.