Biology has become increasingly quantitative in the past 20 years. Collaborations among mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists and biologists are becoming an essential part of modern biological sciences.

With massive amounts of data generated daily, we are pressed to develop theoretical frameworks for interpreting information and using it to solve applied problems. At the RVC we are striving to encourage collaboration among researchers in various quantitative fields to advance our understanding of biology.

The RVC Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health Group has strong methodological expertise in risk analysis, spatial analysis, social network analysis, animal health economics, etc. We also have the international renowned the Centre for Animal Welfare that adopts an interdisciplinary approach to answering fundamental questions about how animals perceive and process information about their world and the implications of this for their management, as well as tackling the science and application of welfare assessment. The research team at the Structure and Motion Laboratory includes biologists, engineers and computer scientists to study locomotion, social behaviour, gait analysis, etc.

In addition to these established research centres, RVC has also strong expertise in bioinformatics, statistics, comparative genomics, and image processing and analysis.

Academic specialists in the quantitative disciplines mentioned above include:

  • Professor Lucy Davison is a vet with a special interest in the genetics and genomics of complex diseases such as diabetes mellitus in companion animals, humans and model organisms. Currently her research group (Senior bioinformatician: Dr Marsha Wallace) has expertise in whole genome and exome sequencing analysis, genome-wide association studies and their follow-up, mutation detection in neoplastic tissues and gene expression analyses including single cell RNA-Sequencing.
  • Professor Oliver Pybus has broad expertise in quantitative biology, particularly in phylogenetics, population genetics, computational immunology, molecular evolution, and virus genomics. He develops methods for measuring and tracking pathogen transmission.
  • Dr Denis Larkin is an expert in comparative genomics, and is interested in Comparative Mammalian Genomics, Chromosome Analysis, and Evolution. Dr Larkin holds several BBSRC funded research projects and was the primary researcher for the Evolution Highway website that provided a visual means for simultaneously comparing genomes of multiple amniote species.
  • Dr Ruby Chang, a Chartered Statistician, provides basic and advanced statistical training and consultancy for research and academics staff and postgraduate students. She also provides external training and consultancy regarding statistical data analysis, study design and sampling strategies.
  • Dr Dong Xia works with integrate data sets generated from multiple omics platforms with systems modelling. His research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions using high-resolution approaches coupled to bioinformatics and machine learning approaches.
  • Dr Androniki Psifidi is a quantitative geneticist interested in: the dissection of the genomic architecture and the study of the underlying molecular mechanism of resistance to important animal diseases and zoonoses; the use of animals as study models of human disease; the study of host-pathogen-microbiome interactions.
  • Mr Noel Kennedy works in applied machine learning with an emphasis on natural language processing in the clinical domain. He has worked on automated clinical coding, information retrieval and negation detection. He is a member of the VeNom clinical coding group and the tech lead on the VetCompass project.

The RVC is also part of the UCL led BBSRC funded Doctoral Training Partnership ( where the emphasis is on training in mathematical biology.

RVC Quantitative Biology Resources Contacts

RVC High-Performance Computing Cluster

Supercomputing is key to various applications in quantitative, bioinformatics research such as mining and interpreting next generation sequencing data, understanding the structures of biologically important molecules, as well as performing mathematical modelling and computer simulations on animal locomotion analysis. At RVC, we host a cluster facility dedicated to quantitative research that comprises of two head nodes and nine compute nodes, providing a total of 536 compute cores and 4.5 TB of memory. The 64-bit Linux operating system supports a diverse range of applications and simulation software as well as a comprehensive software development environment used in quantitative biology research. For more information and arrange access, please contact Dr Dong Xia

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