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Chris Spencer awarded Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship

1 May 2012

Chris Spencer has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship to work on statistical methods for understanding the genetics of human disease phenotypes. Chris did a DPhil in population genetics with Gil McVean before joining Peter Donnelly’s group as a postdoc. Much of his recent work has focused on genome-wide association studies, as analysis team leader for the WTCCC2 consortium. This Fellowship will allow him to play a lead role in the MRC Centre for Genomics and Global Health, by developing and implement methods for bringing together genome-wide association data across diverse populations and multiple phenotypes. Although this is of general applicability, Chris will have a particular focus on malaria and his work will underpin the multi-centre GWAS studies being undertaken by MalariaGEN. Chris explains his work: 

“Recent advances in technology have meant that scientist can collect genetic information on a large number of individuals and correlate their DNA with specific diseases. This simple approach to identifying genes has been successful in elucidating some of the genetics of many common diseases, with the hope that the new understanding will help in treatment and prevention.  However, there is now an exciting opportunity to push this research even further. By looking at new populations, combining data across populations, or comparing data across multiple diseases we are likely to identify new susceptibility genes. Perhaps more interestingly, by comparing and contrasting studies, we can begin to understand the biological mechanisms that link different diseases and those that set them apart. The aim of my research is to help enable scientist to conduct these new studies, by developing innovative methods, through the process of studying the genetics of specific diseases, such as malaria and multiple sclerosis.”