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Dr Anna V. Protasio

Dr Anna V. Protasio

Research Group Leader in Computational Biology

Division of Microbiology and Parasitology

Tennis Court Road

Office Phone: 01223 333328


I have a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Cambridge (Christ's College m. 2007) and the Wellcome Sanger Institute. During my graduate studies I investigated changes in gene expression of the parasite Schistosoma mansoni in the invasion of its human host. Back in 2007-2011, I pioneered the use of next generation sequencing technologies and related bioinformatics to the annotation of genes and quantification of gene expression. I later moved to investigating the role of microRNAs in parasite development. My current interests are in the non-coding genome and most particularly on transposable elements. 

Research Interests

Transposable elements (TEs) are mobile genetic entities that exist in almost all genomes. They constitute almost 50% of the human genome and have a life cycle very similar to that of viruses, with the exception that they rarely exit the cell. Instead, TEs replicate and insert themselves in the genome, potentially disrupting the normal function of the cell. Because of their self-replicating capacity TEs are often considered invaders and even parasites of the “host” genome.

I am interested in investigating the mechanisms by which the ‘host genome’ controls the activity of these TEs. This can be imagined as a sort of arm’s race, where TEs and the host genome fight for the genomic space. My work involves using computational biology tools (bioinformatics) to integrate data from genomes, next generation sequencing, RNA biology and more with the aim of understanding how these mechanisms have evolved in species of parasitic flatworms of clinical and veterinary importance.