Harry Gray

SGX: Statistical Genomics
Telephone number: 01223 760715
Email Address: harry.gray@mrc-bsu.cam.ac.uk

Summary

I joined the BSU in 2015 as a student on the 4-year Wellcome Trust Mathematical Genomics and Medicine PhD programme. My overall field of research is the development of statistical methods for analysing genomic data. One important aim of this field is to create more efficient medical treatment for complex diseases (such as cancer). The idea is to stratify treatment for patients based upon their individual genomic profile - an initiative known as precision medicine. My work is conducted under the supervision of Prof. Sylvia Richardson, Dr. Catalina Vallejos, and Dr. Gwenaël Leday.

PhD project

In general, my project focuses upon exploring the interactions between biological molecules, how this information can then be used to infer properties of the underlying biological processes, and then how this relates to disease. Some challenges that I come across are:

  • high-dimensional statistics, where sample estimates cannot be used
  • integrating data-types that are heterogeneous both in biological meaning and format (e.g. continuous gene expression vs binary Hi-C)

At present, I have developed a Bayesian Model Averaging estimate for the covariance matrix of these biological molecules, which can be thought of as a proxy for quantifying their interactions. This estimate is important since it is central for follow-up analyses such as PCA or network reconstruction, and is applicable to any other context outside of genomics too.

In future work I plan to reconstruct networks from these covariance matrices for each available data type of a complex disease, and then to integrate them into a unifying multilayer network framework, which can take into account the biological association between data types.

Bio

During the first year of my programme, I audited the Computational Biology MPhil., and completed two research projects in order to gain general exposure to this field. My first project was completed here at the BSU and formed the basis of my PhD project. I did the second project at the BMU, where I analysed an fMRI dataset of individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions under Dr. Rolf Ypma.

In 2014, I completed my undergraduate degree in mathematics at King's College London. during this time, I completed two research projects in analytic number theory (Dr. Igor Wigman) and survival analysis (Prof. Ton Coolen), for which I was awarded an EPSRC bursary and the KCL Leyton Science Research Award, respectively.