New DDLS Fellow: Abhishek Niroula
Meet Abhishek Niroula (GU), our latest SciLifeLab & Wallenberg National Program for Data-Driven Life Science (DDLS) fellow, in our lates Q&A-style article. Abhishek will be joining the DDLS Precision medicine and diagnostics research area.
Abhishek studied BSc microbiology in Nepal and MSc Bioinformatics in Finland. In 2012, he moved to Lund as a PhD student, where he used machine learning to understand the effects of genetic variations on human diseases. After his PhD, Abhishek worked as a Bioinformatician, analyzing diverse omics data. In 2018, he went to the Broad Institute for postdoc training, supported by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. At Broad, Abhishek worked on large genomic projects using biobank data and population cohorts to study pre-cancer in blood. After two years, he returned to Lund to continue his work on pre-cancer.
How do you think your expertise can contribute to the program?
I have a background in bioinformatics and human genomics. My research focuses on acquired genetic changes in blood and their impact on health using omics data in large biobanks. I look forward to multidisciplinary collaborations within and beyond the DDLS program and contributing to training young DDLS researchers.
Shortly describe your research in an easy to understand way
I study how acquired genetic alterations in blood cells can cause cancer and chronic diseases in aging. Clonal hematopoiesis (CH) is a pre-cancer state in which cancer-associated genetic alterations are present in a significant fraction of the blood cells of healthy individuals. CH is associated with a 10-fold higher risk of blood cancer. Since blood interacts with diverse tissues, CH also increases the risk of chronic diseases in various tissues (e.g., cardiovascular, lung, liver, and kidney).
My research aims to understand how CH initiates, evolves, and leads to diseases. We will combine genetic and health data from large biobanks and population cohorts to characterize and understand the mechanisms of how CH and blood malignancies develop. We aim to identify new markers for detecting CH and early blood cancer diagnosis and find ways to prevent and treat CH-mediated diseases.
How do you think the program and interactions with the other DDLS-Fellows will benefit you?
The funding from the DDLS program to establish my research group is generous. I am sure the training programs, networking events, and graduate school will promote the professional development of DDLS fellows and our team members. The diverse experience and expertise of the DDLS fellows will provide opportunities for collaborations and mutual support.
Name one thing that people generally do not know about you.
I like playing chess.
Where do you see yourself in five years regarding the DDLS aspect?
I want to develop robust methods to analyze omics data to facilitate biomedical research, understand disease pathogenesis, and find ways to treat them. The plethora of omics data in large cohort studies provides opportunities for data-driven research. New and improved technologies will generate new types of data at a greater speed. We will need new methods and systems for managing, analyzing, and interpreting these data.
In one word, describe how you feel about becoming a DDLS-Fellow.
Photo: Johan Wingborg
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