Megan Druce: from Cum Laude MSc to a Scholarship for a PhD in Germany...

Author: Megan Druce - 2016-04-18

During my undergraduate and BSc Honours, I studied Genetics and developed an interest in human diseases, particularly their genetic basis. This led me to applying and subsequently becoming part of the MRC Flagship Program at Africa Centre. Within this program, I began my Masters in Human Genetics under the supervision of Prof. Tulio de Oliveira (Africa Centre) and Dr. Paula Sommer (UKZN). I worked on a collaborative project with the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB) to develop two HIV bioinformatics resources; one housed in ViralZone (HIV virus) and one within BioAfrica (HIV-1 proteome). During this time I had the opportunity to work in Switzerland at SIB with the Swiss-Prot ViralZone group to begin the development of the ViralZone HIV Resource. In South Africa, I focused on upgrading the BioAfrica HIV-1 Proteome Resource with current data and additional information

Both of these resources are very popular and were presented in two international conferences. The ViralZone HIV Resource has been presented at the 12th Basel Computational Biology Conference (Basel, Switzerland) and the Biocuration 2016 conference (Geneva, Switzerland). The BioAfrica HIV-1 Proteome Resource was presented by myself at the 6th ACM Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology and Health Informatics (Atlanta, Georgia) and published in the BCB15 Proceedings. Furthermore, a manuscript describing the upgrade to the BioAfrica resource was accepted for publication by the DATABASE (Oxford) journal.

In addition to carrying out Masters-related work, I took part in several courses including a Wellcome Trust and Sanger Institute course titled ?Advanced Course on Genomic Epidemiology in Africa?, a South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI) course titled ?Bioinformatics Support Platform Introduction to Bioinformatics Course? and a K-RITH, Harvard and Ragon Institute funded course titled ?Intermediate Biostatistics Course?, among others. Both of my supervisors supported my attendance to these courses and, when necessary, Africa Centre provided additional funding.

I have since completed my Masters degree, graduating with Cum Laude, and have been accepted into the international PhD program at the German Cancer Research Institute (DKFZ). I will begin my PhD at DKFZ in July under the supervision of Dr. Michael Milsom from the Heidelberg Institute for Stem Cell Technology and Experimental Medicine (HI-STEM) and Prof. Dr. Benedikt Brors from the Applied Bioinformatics group at DKFZ. My PhD will involve the analysis of the hematopoietic stem cell ageing process and its involvement in leukemogenesis.

'I am very thankful to my supervisors and everyone at Africa Centre, UKZN and SIB who have guided and supported me during my Masters career. I am especially thankful for the wonderful opportunities I was given and the freedom to seek additional training. This has helped shape me into a better scientist and helped me gain a position at one of the worlds most prestigious cancer research institutes.'

More Information:

- Publication: Improving HIV proteome annotation: new features of BioAfrica HIV Proteomics Resource

- Web resource: The BioAfrica HIV proteome resource.

- Blogs: Experience of 3 UKZN/Africa Centre students at the 7-week national bioinformatics workshop 2015

- News: First two South African MSc students graduate from the MRC Flagship Program: Inspiring blogs about their experiences and achievements.


Blogs: Megan Druce: from Cum Laude MSc to a Scholarship for a PhD in Germany...

KRISP has been created by the coordinated effort of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the South African Medical Research Countil (SAMRC).

Location: K-RITH Tower Building
Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, UKZN
719 Umbilo Road, Durban, South Africa.
Director: Prof. Tulio de Oliveira