Research

I was a PhD student in Aziz Aboobaker’s lab, and am now a visiting scientist with Research Associate status in Zoology@Oxford. 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.

I have a strong background in web development with javascript/html/css. I am also proficient in python, perl, R and the various tools/analysis used in the NGS field.

 

Publications

KAO D, FELIX D, and ABOOBAKER AA. The planarian regeneration transcriptome reveals a shared but temporally shifted regulatory program between opposing head and tail scenarios. BMC Genomics.2013, 14:797.

ABOOBAKER AA and KAO D. A lack of commitment for over 500 million years: conserved animal stem cell pluripotency. EMBO Journal

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

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)

Email

damian.kao@gmail.com

Website

http://blog.nextgenetics.net

Education

BSc Genetics, University of California Davis

PhD Genetics, University of Nottingham (current)

Professional Experience

Graphic Designer, Winter@ctive Communications

Lab Technician, University of California Davis

Database Engineer, Shriner’s Hospital Northern California

Lab Technician, University of California Irvine

Nationality

American