Wharton Chan

MBiochem Research Student

HLA typing and its effects in expression patterns



My current project involves investigating the effects of HLA typing on gene expression across a variety of cell types; this involves using genotype and expression (microarray) data that has been previously generated by two studies in the group (Fairfax et al 2014, Science; Fairfax et al 2012, Nature Genetics). The idea is first to HLA-type the samples, then conduct trans and cis eQTL studies to understand its effects on genes, as well as investigate if this applies across cell types or not. The latter part of this study may also involve experimental validation of any targets of interest identified.

This project is the research component of the 4 years MBiochem degree at University of Oxford, where the final year involves a 5 month research project. My past research experiences has been majorly bioinformatics focused: I was part of the Flint Group in this centre where I worked in mitochondrial genetics and its effects on Major Depression Disorder (Cai N. et al., Genetic control over mtDNA and its relationship to major depressive disorder, Current Biology (2015) – in press) using the CONVERGE dataset; I have also worked in the Stegle Group in EMBL-EBI, investigating indirect genetic effects using candidate genes. In terms of experimental biology, I briefly worked with the Wang Group in Duke-NUS, conducting knockdown studies in bat cell lines with interests in comparative immunology.

Keywords: Genetics, Bioinformatics, Immunology, Psychiatry/Behaviour