After graduating from my first degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at University of East Anglia in 2001, I 'converted' to 'dry' science by completing an MSc in Bioinformatics at University of East Anglia, where I started to look into predicting protein disorder from amino acid sequences (2001-2002). I consolidated this conversion by studying for my PhD in Bioinformatics at Manchester University from 2002-2005 (PhD awarded 2007). My PhD focused upon the prediction of transcriptional units by integrating genomic and transcriptomic data. Directly following my PhD, from 2005, I worked as a Research Associate in Bioinformatics at the University of Surrey, where I was involved in the storage and analysis of the high-throughput data generated by the Streptomyces coelicolor International research consortium ActinoGEN. In 2009 I became an academic at the University of Surrey, appointed to Senior Lecturer in 2016.
My research focuses on exploiting data for furthering understanding of biological systems. My research programmes can be broadly classified into; 1) deployment of computational approaches for the analysis, interpretation and exploitation of large-scale biologically derived data, and 2) the development of computational tools and algorithms for the analysis of biological data.
I have led the bioinformatics component of interdisciplinary projects that have thus far attracted >£4.5M and produced more than 29 published, peer-reviewed outputs, the majority of which are recognised as being in top quartile journals.
I have acted as a panel member of the BBSRC BBR panel in 2017 and 2018, and as a 'roving' machine learning expert panel member in BBSRC responsive mode research committee meetings (2017). I have assessed interdisciplinary research proposals for; BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, Royal Society and the Irish research council.
I am a review editor for the journal Frontiers in Genetics (Bioinformatics and Computational Biology section), and have acted as a reviewer for the journals Nucleic Acids Research, Bioinformatics, BMC Bioinformatics, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Future Microbiology, Frontiers journals, and F1000 Research.
I have acted as a member of the organising committee for Translation UK 2016, and Technical co-chair of 2012 IEEE Symposium on Computational Intelligence in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology.
My current funded projects include:
£94k MRC iCASE Studentship. 'Hospital sink microbiomes and their contribution to the spread of antimicrobial resistance'. J Ritchie (PI), E Laing, G Moore (PHE).
£482k Alborada Trust. 'Well foal project', assessing microbiota influences on foal health and performance. C Proudman (PI), R La Ragione, E Laing, R Ellis (APHA), F Steinbach (APHA).
£16k UK Space Agency. 'Validation of blood transcriptome-based biomarkers for the effects of microgravity on human physiology'. S Archer (PI), D Dijk, E Laing, C Moller-Levet
£94k Pirbright Institute/BBSRC PhD Studentship in collaboration with Merial Animal Health. ‘Using a ‘Vaccinomics’ approach to investigate foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) vaccine quality and characterise immune escape mechanisms’. D King (PI, Pirbright), G Freimanis (Pirbright), E Laing (Surrey).
£454k BBSRC-European Space Agency (AO-13-BR). ‘The effects of bedrest on the circadian organisation of the human blood transcriptome as a model for temporal dysregulation during long-term spaceflight and ageing’. S Archer (PI), D Dijk, E Laing, CP Smith, N Santhi.
£94k BBSRC iCASE PhD Studentship (BB/K01160X/1). The development of a microbial community for increasing wheat crop yield’. Laing E (PI), Avignone-Rossa C, Hodgson S (Symbio Ltd).
My teaching activities are interdisciplinary in nature; teaching computational approaches to those with a biological/health background, and biological principles to those with a computational/theoretical background.
I have created new innovative, interdisciplinary teaching programmes and courses to close the recognised skills gap in computational approaches and quantitative analyses in the life and health sciences, for which I have gained the support of BBSRC and industry.
I currently teach at all HE levels in relation to; bioinformatic approaches, statistics, molecular biology and genetics, and systems biology.
Based on requests, I have run ad hoc workshops related to statistical analysis and computational programming for external institutions and research groups.
I have acted as a reviewer for the textbooks "Introduction to Genomics", by Lesk, Oxford University Press" and "Systems biology in Environmental Research, From the Genome to Epigenome", by Fry, Elsevier.
My current PhD projects include:
David King (Co-supervisor, collaboration with Don King and Graham Freimanis, Pirbright Institute and colleagues in Merial): Using a ‘Vaccinomics’ approach to investigate foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) vaccine quality and characterise immune escape mechanisms
Indre Navickaite (Principal superivosr, collaboration with Claudio Avignone-Rossa and colleagues in Symbio Ltd): The development of a microbial community to improve wheat crop yield
Nadia Mohammed (Co-supervisor, collaboration with Jenny Ritchie and Ginny Moore (PHE)): Hospital sink microbiomes and their contribution to the spread of antimicrobial resistance
Nouf Algnami (Co-supervisor, collaboration with Lillian Tang): Deep Learning to exploit human transcriptomic data