I am Damian Kao and I am a third year PhD student in Aziz Aboobaker's lab at the University of Nottingham. Our broad research topic is regeneration. Specifically, we use the freshwater flat worm (Schmidtea mediterranea) as our model organism to study the mechanism underlying regeneration. We tackle the complexities of our research with a combination of molecular experiments and next generation sequencing.
My undergraduate degree was in genetics and I've held lab technician jobs in a couple of Drosophila labs. My benchwork experience mainly consist of molecular cloning work, animal dissections, and embryo injections. When I joined the Aboobaker lab, I had the choice to analyze a large amount of RNA-seq data. Given my experience with programming and web development, I felt it was a great opportunity to get into the bioinformatics field.
My work now consists mainly of analyzing the large amount of sequencing data produced at different regenerating conditions. Processing and analyzing the data is a constant learning process as new technologies/methodologies comes out every week. However, coupling the massive amount of sequencing data with biological knowledge is a far more daunting task. I hope to be able to further develop my biological knowledge and effectively bridge the gap between informatics and theory.
My secondary interest lies in data visualization and communication. With the exponentially rising amount of sequencing data, it is becoming more important to be able to tame this deluge of information and display it in an accessible way. I feel the traditional tables/figures or supplemental excel files that researchers commonly find in publications are just not enough to convey the data. There is a gold mine of information that most publications are only showing a few facets of. To that end, I am currently working on a way to use client-side browser technology to display large amounts of biological information such as NGS data.
ABOOBAKER AA and KAO D. A lack of commitment for over 500 million years: conserved animal stem cell pluripotency. EMBO Journal (in press)
SOLANA J, KAO D, MIHAYLOVA Y, JABER-HIJAZI F, MALLA S, WILSON R and ABOOBAKER A, 2012. Defining The Molecular Profile Of Planarian Pluripotent Stem Cells Using A Combinatorial RNA-Seq, RNAi And Irradiation Approach.Genome Biology. 13(3), R19 (In Press.)
BLYTHE, MJ, KAO, D, MALLA, S, ROWSELL, J, WILSON, R, EVANS, D, JOWETT, J, HALL, A, LEMAY, V, LAM, S and ABOOBAKER, AA, 2010. A Dual Platform Approach To Transcript Discovery For The Planarian Schmidtea Mediterranea To Establish Rnaseq For Stem Cell And Regeneration Biology Plos One. 5(12)
BSc Genetics, University of California Davis
PhD Genetics, University of Nottingham (current)
Graphic Designer, Winter@ctive Communications
Lab Technician, University of California Davis
Database Engineer, Shriner's Hospital Northern California
Lab Technician, University of California Irvine