Dr Francesc Coll
BSc MSc PhD
Francesc is a computational biologist with expertise in bacterial genomics and clinical microbiology. He joined the London School in July 2016 as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Prof. Sharon Peacock's lab funded by a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship. He is currently working in the application of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in bacteria to identify the genes that make bacteria resistant to antibiotics and able to cause infections. Since he joined Sharon’s group in 2014 at the University of Cambridge, he has worked in the genomic epidemiology of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Vancomycin-resistance Enterococcus faecium, two major nosocomial pathogens. In October 2014, he completed his Ph.D. at the School under the supervision of Prof. Taane Clark, which focused on strain genotyping and drug resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis using whole genome sequencing. He obtained his degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia in 2010, Spain, followed by an MSc in Bioinformatics in Cranfield University, UK.
Francesc has taught in multiple short courses on bioinformatics and microbial genomics including:
- Genomic Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases (GEID 2017) in Manila, Philippines (July 2017)
- Kenya-United Kingdom Staphylococcus aureus training collaboration (KUK-SATC) workshop in Nairobi, Kenya (February 2017)
- Genomic Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases (GEID 2016) in Bangkok, Thailand (March 2016)
- Pathogen genomics and genomic epidemiology of infectious diseases in London, UK (September 2012, 2013 and 2014)
- High throughput sequencing in disease studies in London, UK (September 2012, 2013 and 2014)
The introduction of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in microbial genetics has recently become possible as a result of falling DNA sequencing costs. GWAS in pathogenic bacteria have the potential to shed light on the genes that make bacterial strains resistant to antibiotics, able to cause infection and colonise and transmit within and beyond their host population. Despite the potential of GWAS to characterise the genetic determinants of bacterial phenotypes, its wider adoption is hindered by limited expertise and lack of methodologies suitable to bacterial genomes.
Francesc wants to develop robust GWAS designs suitable for bacterial genomes and provide practical guidelines for future studies. He will evaluate the performance of different GWAS designs using large bacterial collections with available whole-genome sequences (WGS) and antimicrobial resistance phenotypes. He will also develop and release software tools implementing the GWAS methods.
In broad terms, his research interests focus on integrating whole-genome sequences from bacterial strains with other types of data - epidemiological, clinical and phenotypic - to glean biological insights in the area of clinical bacteriology.