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Prof Francois Balloux

Prof Francois Balloux

Chair in Computational Biology Systems Biology

Genetics, Evolution & Environment

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Oct 2011

Research summary

Over recent years, we have witnessed tremendous progress in genomic technologies. As a result we are now in a position to sequence large numbers of genomes from a variety of organisms in no time and at reasonable cost. However, genomic data in itself does little more than clogging up computers.

In order to extract meaningful biological information from genomic data, we need dedicated methodological tools. This is where we fit in and our mission statement is to harness genomic information by developing, refining and applying computational tools to genomic datasets to address important and interesting scientific questions.

Our core interest is to use genomic data to reconstruct the past population history of a variety of organisms. We work on the reconstruction of infectious disease outbreaks and epidemics of human and wildlife pathogens. Over recent times we have been increasingly focusing on the factors that allow some lineages to be more successful than others. One aspect of this work is the prediction of drug resistance and virulence factors.

Our work spans a large spectrum ranging from the fundamental (e.g. reconstructing historical plague pandemics) to the applied (e.g. tracking nosocomial infections in a hospital ward). Indeed, we do not feel there must be a divide between fundamental and applied science, and while our research is primarily driven by scientific curiosity, we aim at contributing with our work to the genomic revolution in medicine, public health and conservation biology.

Teaching summary

I am course organizer for BIOL0021 Advanced Human Genetics: Research Principles. I also contribute to teaching in other third year and postgraduate courses.

Biography

I studied at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and obtained a Masters and PhD from the same institution in 1996, and 2000, respectively. I then spent two years in Edinburgh as a postdoc.

In 2002,  I was offered a lectureship in the Department of Genetics in Cambridge where I stayed for five years. I moved to the newly formed MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling within the Department of Infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London in 2007. 

I joined the UCL Genetics Institute (UGI) as a professor of Computational Systems Biology in 2012 and became Director of the Institute in 2015.

Publications