Student Inspiration Award (Postgraduate), Adrian Baez-Ortega Winner 2019

Adrian Baez-Ortega is a computer science graduate from Spain whose postgraduate work reflects the increasing value of bioinformatics – a combination of biology and information technology – in the diagnosis and treatment of canine disease.

After taking his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of La Laguna he enrolled at the University of Cambridge to conduct a PhD in biological sciences, which he is due to complete later this year.

Working as part of the Transmissible Cancer Group with Dr Elizabeth Murchison, Adrian has been studying the evolution of canine transmissible venereal tumours, a condition that has infected domestic dogs for the past 8,000 years and is found in around 100 countries worldwide.

On completing his doctorate, Adrian hopes to continue this research into areas which will have a direct influence on the health of future generations of dogs. He plans to explore the ways that the virus which causes these tumours interacts with its host and how it avoids being destroyed by the canine immune system.

He has developed a computational approach which identifies exactly which genes are active in biopsy samples taken from tumours submitted by vet practices in more than 40 different countries. Understanding which genes contribute to the survival of the virus is certain to have fundamental importance in developing new methods for treating this disease.

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