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Dr Nick Furnham

PhD

Associate Professor
in Computational and Structural Biology of Infectious Disease

Room
361

LSHTM
Keppel Street
London
WC1E 7HT
United Kingdom

Tel.
8374

Nicholas has expertise in microbial biology, computational biology, machine learning / AI, genomics and structural biology.

He joined the School as an independent investigator supported by a MRC Strategic Skill Fellowship in Methodology Research. Prior to this he was a staff scientist / post-doctoral research in the group of Prof. Dame Janet Thornton at the European Bioinformatics Institute (an outstation of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory). He completed his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Sir Tom Blundell in the Biochemistry Department at Cambridge University after a MSc. in Bioinformatics at Exeter University. His original undergraduate training in Biological Science at King’s College London. 

Affiliations

Department of Infection Biology
Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases

Centres

Antimicrobial Resistance Centre (AMR)

Teaching

Nicholas runs the Novel Drug Discvery and AMR module that is open to several of the ITD faculty MSc programs. He also co-organises the Programming module (Python and R), one of the core modules of the Health Data Science MSc. run in the EPH faculty. Nicholas also contributes lectures and practical classes to several other MSc. modules including Pathogen Genomics, Molecular Biology and Recombinant DNA Techniques and Advanced Training in Molecular Biology.


In addition, he supervises research students and those interested in undertaking a PhD or MSc project should contact him directly.

Research

Dr. Furnham’s research group is focused on the development and application of computational methods, combined with experimental validation and discovery, to important questions in infectious disease biology. The group takes an interdisciplinary approach combining biology and chemistry with computer science (machine learning and AI) in projects addressing antimicrobial resistance and the development of novel therapeutics for infectious diseases. 

The Furnham group leads several projects including:

  • understand the molecular consequences of genomic variance identified through GWAS studies to predict novel drug resistance profiles to aid resistance surveillance and antimicrobial stewardship;
  • the development of novel therapeutics using a combination of structure led high-throughput fragment based screening with pharmacogenomics and high-content screening. This has been applied to developing new anti-schistosomal agents and was nominated for a Newton Prize;
  • the development of a resource, FunTree (www.funtree.info), which brings together on a large-scale from thousands of genomes protein sequences, structures, taxonomy, phylogenetic analysis and comparisons of protein function.

Prior projects have included putting allergy into its evolutionary context by establishing molecular similarities between known allergens and proteins in pathogens. We verified these predictions experimentally to show new pathogen proteins cause allergy like immune responses, demonstrating that allergy is the price we pay for evolving immunity to these pathogens. This work has received interest in the wider media with reports in Science and the Smithsonian (amongst others).

Research Area
Bacteria
Drug discovery and development
Drug resistance
Helminths
Viruses
Chemotherapy
Medicines
Methodology
Protozoa
Modelling
Discipline
Bacteriology
Biochemistry
Genetics
Molecular biology
Pharmacology
Bioinformatics
Disease and Health Conditions
Infectious disease
Tuberculosis
Allergy
Hospital acquired infection
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
Schistosomiasis
Tropical diseases
Country
Brazil
United Kingdom
Netherlands
Region
World

Selected Publications

Schistosomiasis Drug Discovery in the Era of Automation and Artificial Intelligence.
Moreira-Filho JT; Silva AC; Dantas RF; Gomes BF; Souza Neto LR; Brandao-Neto J; Owens RJ; Furnham N; Neves BJ; Silva-Junior FP
2021
Frontiers in immunology
Prediction of rifampicin resistance beyond the RRDR using structure-based machine learning approaches.
Portelli S; Myung Y; Furnham N; Vedithi SC; Pires DEV; Ascher DB
2020
Scientific reports
Combining structure and genomics to understand antimicrobial resistance.
Tunstall T; Portelli S; Phelan J; Clark TG; Ascher DB; Furnham N
2020
COMPUTATIONAL AND STRUCTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY JOURNAL
Genome-wide analysis of multi- and extensively drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Coll F; Phelan J; Hill-Cawthorne GA; Nair MB; Mallard K; Ali S; Abdallah AM; Alghamdi S; Alsomali M; Ahmed AO
2018
Nature genetics
Computationally-guided drug repurposing enables the discovery of kinase targets and inhibitors as new schistosomicidal agents
Giuliani S; Silva AC; Borba JVVB; Ramos PIP; Paveley RA; Muratov EN; Andrade CH; Furnham N
2018
Understanding molecular consequences of putative drug resistant mutations in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Portelli S; Phelan JE; Ascher DB; Clark TG; Furnham N
2018
Scientific reports
Comparisons of Allergenic and Metazoan Parasite Proteins: Allergy the Price of Immunity.
Tyagi N; Farnell EJ; Fitzsimmons CM; Ryan S; Tukahebwa E; Maizels RM; Dunne DW; Thornton JM; Furnham N
2015
PLoS computational biology
Exploring the evolution of novel enzyme functions within structurally defined protein superfamilies.
Furnham N; Sillitoe I; Holliday GL; Cuff AL; Laskowski RA; Orengo CA; Thornton JM
2012
PLoS computational biology
Missing in action: enzyme functional annotations in biological databases.
Furnham N; Garavelli JS; Apweiler R; Thornton JM
2009
Nature chemical biology
Assembly and channel opening in a bacterial drug efflux machine.
Bavro VN; Pietras Z; Furnham N; Pérez-Cano L; Fernández-Recio J; Pei XY; Misra R; Luisi B
2008
Molecular cell
Structure and mechanism of drug efflux machinery in Gram negative bacteria.
Pietras Z; Bavro VN; Furnham N; Pellegrini-Calace M; Milner-White EJ; Luisi BF
2008
Current drug targets
Is one solution good enough?
Furnham N; Blundell TL; DePristo MA; Terwilliger TC
2006
Nature structural & molecular biology
See more Publications