Genetics

Hand holding a glass test tube with genetic hexagons in the background

The Genetic Research Group aims to bring together people from different disciplines of genetics including medical, biological, environmental and forensic. Within the group we aim to share ideas and promote intra- and interdisciplinary collaboration to develop project in genetics, increase the possibility of funding and publish in high impact journals.

The Genetics research area is part of the Biomedical Research Group and the Forensic & Investigative Sciences Research Group.

We offer a Biomedical Science PhD or Forensic & Investigative Sciences PhD, and a range of innovative research project opportunities for postgraduate researchers in Biomedical Science or Forensic Science.

For more information, contact Dr Nathalie Zahra at nathalie.zahra@aru.ac.uk or Dr Krithika Sundararaman at krithika.sundararaman@aru.ac.uk

Dr Krithika Sundararaman

Dr Krithika Sundararaman is a geneticist with research interests in medical genetics, in particular, in understanding the genetic cause of rare diseases. She has worked on genetics of epilepsy, and on understanding the genetics of complex disease including type 2 diabetes. She has also worked in the fields of population genetics and human evolutionary genetics during her PhD.

Dr Claire Pike

Dr Claire Pike is a senior academic at ARU with academic interests are related to the epigenetic regulation of gene expression, study on genes that are found to be recurrently targeted by structural changes, signalling factors that maintain integrity of the mammary epithelium, and the effects of their dysregulation. She also carries out research in breast cancer genetics, looking at finding ‘drivers’ of tumorigenesis in genetically dissimilar cases.

Dr Francesca Panin

Dr Francesca Panin is a pharmacist with a PhD in neuroscience and research experience in pre-clinical and clinical neuropharmacology. Her areas of expertise include pharmacology, neuroscience, sleep, drug addiction, cognitive neuroscience and neurogenetics.

Dr Bas Boots

Dr Bas Boots' academic interests are related to linking microbes, animals, plants and ecosystem functioning: from genes to ecosystems. Microbial communities associated with animals, including insects, bivalves and cattle. Development of technologies to detect pathogens and antimicrobial resistance in the environment. Impacts of anthropogenic pressures (e.g. pollutants) on ecological processes in aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Biogeochemistry, biodiversity and ecology of soil, water and sediment.

Dr Nathalie Zahra

Dr Nathalie Zahra has worked in various fields of genetics including environmental, biomedical and forensic, mostly focusing on the technology used for the analysis of genetic markers for the various applications. At ARU she is part of the forensic and investigative studies team, teaching mostly forensic biology. Her research interest includes fingerprints analysis, analysis of genetic markers for trace biological material and fingermarks. She also carries out research related to forensic genetics and society, and the use of forensic phenotypic markers for investigative purposes.

Dr Julia Mantaj

Dr Julia Mantaj’s primary research focuses on the development of physiological two-dimensional models (e.g., mammary, intestinal) using human-derived organoids as the next generation of improved in vitro models. Her research interests also include the development of hydrogel-based systems for rectal delivery of cell therapy for the restitution of injured colonic mucosa in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

PhD researchers:

Minakshi Singh. Thesis title: MicroRNA profiling for the identification of forensically significant body fluids in mixed samples. First Supervisor: Dr. Nathalie Zahra. Contact: ms2237@pgr.aru.ac.uk

Read more about more about members of the genetics research group.

  • Genetics of neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Sleep genetics
  • Epigenetics
  • Genetics of breast cancer evolution and chemoresistance
  • Forensic DNA Phenotyping
  • STR Profiling from compromised biological material
  • microRNA for body fluid identification
  • Environmental genetics
  • Cell therapy in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Bioinformatics
Read more about more about the research interests of the genetics research group.

Maria Cristina Cioclu, Antonietta Coppola, Manuela Tondelli, Anna Elisabetta Vaudano, Giada Giovannini, Krithika S, Michele Iacomino, Federico Zara, Sanjay M Sisodiya, Stefano Meletti. 2021. Cortical and Subcortical Network Dysfunction in a Female Patient With NEXMIF Encephalopathy. Frontiers in Neurology, DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2021.722664.

Zagaglia S, Steel D, Krithika S, Hernandez-Hernandez L, Custodio HM, Gorman KM, Vezyroglou A, Møller RS, King Frcpch MD, Hammer TB, Spaull R, Fazeli W, Bartolomaeus T, Doummar D, Keren B, Mignot C, Bednarek N, Cross JH, Mallick AA, Sanchis-Juan A, Basu A, Raymond FL, Lynch BJ, Majumdar Frcpch A, Stamberger H, Weckhuysen S, Sisodiya SM, Kurian MA. 2021. RHOBTB2 mutations expand the phenotypic spectrum of alternating hemiplegia of childhood. Neurology, doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000011543.

Gibson SJ, Zahra N, Freeman PJ, Howard C, Lancaster O, Veal C, Fontdevila MC, Paredes R, Noguera-Julian M, Slater A, Brookes AJ. Array-based dynamic allele specific hybridization (Array-DASH): Optimization-free microarray processing for multiple simultaneous genomic assays. Anal Biochem. 2021 Aug 1;626:114124. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2021.114124. Epub 2021 Feb 16. PMID: 33607059.

D’Arcy, M.S., Pike, C.V.S., Coussons, P.J., 2021. A novel combined resveratrol/berberine phytochem therapeutic using the HePG2 cell line as a model for the treatment of hepatocarcinoma. Cell Biology International. 45(12): 2409-2509.

Read more about more about the key publications of the genetics research group.

Pike, C.V.S., 2022. Heads of University Centres of Biomedical Sciences Annual Conference. Bristol, UK.

Nathalie Zahra was interviewed by ITV about the use of the latest technology in forensic genetics in the cold case of murder of Rikki Neave (March 2022).