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Alistair Miles

Bioinformatician

I studied Zoology at Cambridge but always had an affinity for computing since learning to program the ZX Spectrum I got as a Christmas present as a child. I decided to go into software engineering after university and in my early career was involved with the W3C, an organisation founded by Tim Berners-Lee to develop the technical foundations of the World Wide Web. I met many of the people who helped to create the Web and was inspired by their technical excellence and their deep commitment to openness.

I maintained an interest in biology and in 2009 moved to the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, where I could apply my experience in computing and the Web to problems in malaria research. I started out building Web-based systems for a project to bring together all of the world’s data on anti-malarial drug resistance. As part of Prof Dominic Kwiatkowski’s group I also got exposed to high-throughput DNA sequencing and the study of genetic variation, and got hooked by the combination of big data and fascinating biology.

I now work on the genetics of malaria-carrying mosquitoes. As part of the Ag1000G project I’m using whole-genome DNA sequencing to learn more about how resistance to insecticides evolves in one mosquito population and spreads to others. I’m also building an open-access online resource of data on genetic variation in mosquitoes across Africa, to support research in all areas of mosquito biology, including the development of new mosquito control methods.

Alistair Miles
Bioinformatician

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