Insight – Genomics and microbiology
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Insight – Genomics and microbiology

It’s not exaggerating to say that when I
started in microbiology, Louis Pasteur could have been quite happy in
my laboratory – glass plates, growing bacteria, instant gardening. Then about five to seven years ago we started moving into molecular and
all these fancy machines arrived. They looked like American fridges, producing results that I didn’t really understand. It took a lot of work to try and get
up to speed with it, so when the opportunity came to do the Genomics
Programme, I seized it because I just I’ve got to understand, really understand, what
I’m doing. Increasingly I’m doing more genomic
interpretation of results, we’re doing viral loads, we’re doing molecular
testing for all sorts of things – even diarrheal illnesses that, in the old days,
we were looking down the microscope and staining. We can have much finer, much
more discriminating, results with the new genomic techniques that we’re using. I think it’s really tempting as a microbiologist to think I’ll just go and
do the DNA course – learn how to do some PCR – just get the basic sorted, but I
can’t quite believe how enriching this is to do the whole thing. Because it’s
not just one part it’s the whole human genome, human diseases in
everything, it’s an entirety. Microbiology and infection is just one small part of that. I can’t believe that I can work so hard and be so tired, and yet be so happy
at the end of the day for doing something. It just seems bonkers but it
is mind-blowing. It’s fantastic.

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