A needle in a stack of needles: using machine learning approaches to find RNA viruses in the gut microbiome


Microbiome science has entered the realm of big data, where information is coming faster and at larger volumes, making data processing and analysis a true bottleneck. To address this issue, the community needs automated approaches for detection and analysis of viruses from microbiome data. RNA viruses are particularly understudied as components of the microbiome, comprising potentially dangerous pathogens such as poliovirus, but also viruses that infect bacteria, and anything in between.

The Adriaenssens group at the Quadram Institute Bioscience (QIB), in collaboration with the School of Computing Sciences at the University of East Anglia, is looking to recruit a PhD student on a fully funded project. In this project, we will use machine learning approaches for the detection of RNA virus genomes in microbiome data and investigate their role in the human gut. The student will join the group of Dr Evelien Adriaenssens at QIB, specialised in gut viruses and viromics, with Dr Gavin Cawley, a specialist in machine learning, as second supervisor.

The ideal candidate has at a minimum an Upper Second class Honours degree (or equivalent) in Computer Science, with an interest in microbiome analyses, or a degree in Life Sciences with significant experience in programming. The PhD student will be based in the new purpose-built Quadram Institute building, located on the Norwich Research Park, where they will join a vibrant research community at the interface between fundamental and translational research into gut microbiology, health and disease. The QIB offers a wide range of training opportunities for its student cohort, laboratory and computational scientific support and funding to attend national and international conferences, preparing the student for any career of their choice.