Modupeh pursues his long-term interest in bioinformatics

Modupeh Betts is a Trainee Bioinformatician within the Nutrition Theme of MRC Unit The Gambia (MRCG). Modupeh has been recently awarded an exciting fellowship with the Nutrition Theme as a Trainee Bioinformatician within the Epigenetic Mechanisms linking Pre-conceptional nutrition and Health Assessed in India and Sub-Saharan Africa (EMPHASIS) grant. EMPHASIS is focused on investigating whether the micronutrients received by mothers before conception has influenced the epigenome and/or health of their now 8-9 year old children. Changes in epigenetic signatures, such as DNA methylation, between intervention and control groups will be correlated with health outcomes.

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Modupeh Betts, Trainee Bioinformatician

Modupeh is currently involved in data collection at Keneba field station and will be undertaking a full-time MSc Bioinformatics in the UK in the fall, 2016. He will be line managed by EMPHASIS project PI, Dr Matt Silver, who is also a Bioinformatician and Statistical Geneticist. Modupeh has had a long term interest in bioinformatics and the fellowship presents a unique opportunity to develop his bioinformatics expertise and work with leading scientists in discovery research. Modupeh travelled to India in February 2016 to attend the first annual EMPHASIS meeting.

Modupeh joined MRCG as a Laboratory Technician in Dr Martin Antonio’s Molecular Microbiology Group in December 2006. Modupeh graduated with distinction in the MRCG sponsored 4-year Foundation Degree in Biomedical Science in July 2012. He subsequently earned a scholarship from MRCG to complete BSc Biomedical Science full-time at Kingston University, London where he graduated with first class honours in 2013. Modupeh successfully returned to Dr Antonio’s group as a Scientific Officer under the supervision of Dr Brenda Kwambana-Adams.

Modupeh’s career progression is one of the success stories of MRCG’s strategy of identifying, training and retaining indigenous talent to support the continuity of research. The numerous technical training opportunities and skills Modupeh acquired over the years within the molecular sciences group have had a significant impact on the recently concluded 3-year Global Enteric Multicentre study (GEMS) and the 2-year Vaccination and Paediatric Microbiome Project (VPM).

Modupeh received training in South Africa in 2010 which led to the publication of the first data on circulating pre-vaccination rotavirus genotypes in The Gambia in 2013. He attended the Wellcome Trust Advance Course on ‘Pathogen Genomics’ in 2014 in Malawi and also had six weeks training in January 2015 at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, UK. He has most recently been involved in a milestone achievement of preparing 16S metagenomics libraries for Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) in-house at the MRCG.