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Inaugural Lecture for Professor Claude Chelala - Mon voyage sans frontières
Mon 24 April 2017, 17:00 – 18:00 BST
I was born in Batroun, a small Maronite coastal town of north Lebanon. I trained in Radiation Biology and became interested in Bioinformatics during my PhD studies in Paris, France. During that time I gained experience in both basic and computational sciences completing my doctoral thesis in 2002 as well as my training in Structural Bioinformatics. My first postdoctoral experience focused on functional genomics and systemic biology for Health at the CNRS. Afterwards, I joined the Pasteur Institute to work on the development and application of integrative and computational bioinformatic solutions to the large-scale analysis of genetic variation, integration with clinical data and the association with diabetes and infectious diseases.
Joining Barts Cancer Institute (BCI) at QMUL in 2006 offered me the opportunity to establish an interdisciplinary research team and translate my work from a substantial basic/computational research platform into a translational/patient setting. Current projects are focused on next-generation sequencing/array data analysis/integration, biobanking, databases and software development. We harness large complicated high-throughput data to uncover meaningful information that could be used to develop targeted therapeutics and diagnostic tools for the benefit of cancer patients.
A main aspect of my research involves designing and setting up a bioinformatic platform for the organisation, integration and mining of complex –omics and clinical data sets. This model was applied to pancreatic and breast cancers and is unique in providing an integrative and analytical bioinformatics platform with a back-end Tissue Bank resource. I also am studying the field cancerisation effect in breast cancer and the epithelia/stroma signatures that characterise this effect. Building on my previous experience in the study of genetic variations and bioinformatics sequence analysis, we designed and implemented SNPnexus as a dedicated resource allowing scientists to functionally annotate sequence variations. I am actively working toward the consolidation of my research group as a world-class reference group in using cutting-edge NGS, proteomics, liquid biopsy technology and computational biology to help improve diagnosis and treatment of patients with pancreatic cancer.
In 2009, I was offered an honorary position at the American University of Beirut (AUB) to contribute my expertise and develop Bioinformatics research programs. In 2011, I became the Bioinformatics Academic Lead at BCI to develop and promote teaching and research in cancer Bioinformatics. In 2013, I became the co-Lead of the Computational Biology Centre for the Life Science Initiative (LSI) at QMUL to facilitate the development of a state-of-the-art computational biology research at LSI.