Friday, 22 October 2021 12:00


Presentation 1 (12h00-12h40) – Dr Virag Sharma

Harnessing the Potential of Comparative Genomics to Discover Compensatory Mechanisms for Disease Prevention and Treatment

Presentation 2 (12h40-13h00) – Dr Marcus O’Mahony

Putting Data Analytics to Use Across Pharma and Biopharma Manufacturing – from Good Practices to Impactful Use Cases

ABSTRACT – Presentation 1

Comparative analysis of a set of genome sequences, also known as comparative genomics, allows the identification of conserved and diverged sequence elements across genomic sequences. Conservation of sequence over large evolutionary time scales is associated with function and this supposition forms the basis of comparative gene annotation approaches. However, considerably less attention has been paid to those elements that diverge during the course of evolution and become non-functional. A rather extreme example of the loss of function following sequence divergence is the inactivation of an ancestral protein-coding. This presentation will focus on the methods that have been developed in the past to identify inactivated genes from genome alignments, and how losses of these genes have been able to confer different morphological, physiological, and metabolic adaptations. The presenter will discuss the surprising discovery of losses of numerous genes in non-human species whose loss-of-function mutations are associated with diseases in human population, and how these findings might lead us to the development of newer therapies for disease prevention and treatment.

ABSTRACT – Presentation 2

Data analytics is defined as a composite concept extending from data acquisition and collection, right the way through to making predictions, recommendations and decisions based on the analysis of the data (ISO 20546:2019). The statistical and mathematical basis for analysing and finding patterns in complex multivariate data sets has been understood for several decades. More recently this is often referred to as machine learning or artificial intelligence. Only in the last decade has it become clear that the ever-expanding volume and diversity of data will provide opportunities to transform data to knowledge and generate significant value, enabling more sustainable practices for industry and society. This talk will highlight some of the technical findings from a recent guide developed in collaboration with the pharma and biopharma industry on what good and successful practices in data analytics currently look like. The analysis and modelling of pharmaceutically relevant large and multivariate data will also be highlighted. Insights are provided which support new analytical measurement technology, understanding variation in raw input material and its impact to product quality and the measurement of inline powder flow properties.


Dr Virag Sharma did his PhD at University College Cork (School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology) and subsequently moved to Dresden in Germany to start his post-doctoral studies. He worked with Dr Michael Hiller at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, and later with Professor Ezio Bonifacio at the Center for Regenerative Therapies. Most of his post-doctoral work has been focused on understanding the genotypic basis of various phenotypes that are observed in different mammalian species. He joined the Department of Chemical Sciences, UL as a Lecturer in September 2021. He intends to continue his work in the field of comparative genomics to improve the understanding of genetic mechanisms in non-human species that allow them to bypass disease phenotypes and translate this knowledge to humans.

Dr Marcus O’Mahony is a Senior Research Fellow with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology Centre (PMTC) at the University of Limerick. Marcus supports the Data Analytics research theme within the PMTC, while also supporting industry partners in their strategic research needs. He received his PhD from the University of Limerick and later completed his postdoctoral research in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT. While at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Marcus became a subject matter expert in the development and continuous manufacture of oral solid dosage drug products where he also led an interdepartmental data science initiative. He has published 14 journal articles, as well as a book chapter, has a h-index of 12, and he has licensed two patents in the area of pharmaceutical manufacturing. Marcus is passionate about developing new pharmaceutical manufacturing technologies for the benefit of both business and patient.

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