The Molecular lab team

Raju Misra

Head of division

Raju joined the NHM as Head of Division in 2017. With a PhD in Bioinformatics, Genomics and Proteomics from the University of York, Raju started his career as a bioinformatician with organisation such as GSK, HPA and the University of Oxford. Later becoming deputy head of Genomics Research at PHE. Since joining the NHM he now works on applied biomedical and environmental R&D.

Andie Hall

Research assistant

Andie has worked in Molecular labs at the NHM since 2004, first in Entomology, then Zoology. With a BSc in Zoology & MSc in wildlife management from the University of Reading, she began her career in R&D of pharmaceuticals. Andie’s focus is on HTS (Illumina & nanopore) for researchers, students & commercial projects. She works on all sample types from environmental to tissue, eukaryote & prokaryote, though specialises in insects.

Clementine Geeves

Laboratory assistant (Darwin Tree of Life project)

Clementine joined at the end of September 2020 and her main role will be to barcode sequence samples and collections for the Darwin Tree of Life. She obtained a BSc in Biomedical Sciences and before joining the NHM she worked at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, maintaining labs and equipment as part of the Facilities Team and has had 3 year of lab experience in a HTS facility at the Oxford Genomics Centre.

Elena Lugli

Research assistant

Elena has been part of the Team since 2015 working in both lab operations & research. She has a degree in biochemistry and a DPhil in fungal pathogens from the University of Oxford, continuing her academic career at New York University’s medical centre & the Kennedy Institute, University of Oxford. While at the museum she has worked on an incredible range of diverse species, though parasites and pathogens remain her favourites.

Yuen Ting

Senior research assistant (Robotics)

Ranbir Bailey

Lab manager

Ranbir’s primary focus is lab operations (facility management, health & safety, user support), but she also carries out research on NHM collections. She obtained a BSc in Biomedical Science & MSc in Biomedical Research from King’s College London, starting her career working on the genetics of breast cancer at the Ludwig Institute, UCL. She later worked on the development of clinical grade lentiviral vectors to target cancer at UCL’s Division of Infection & Immunity, before moving into divisional lab management.

Sarah Walkington

Molecular biologist (Implementation)

Sarah joined the museum in 2018 after completing her PhD in Molecular Microbiology at Royal Holloway, University of London. After working initially to cover both R&D and lab operations, she is now a specialist in next generation sequencing technologies and helps to support the work of NHM researchers through development of new innovative methods in genomics and molecular biology. She is currently working on applying robotic automation to a range of different sequencing applications and assists on museum-wide projects, including Urban Nature Project and Darwin Tree of Life.

Piotr Cuber

Research Assistant (Darwin Tree of Life Project "DToL")

Piotr joined the Molecular Biology Lab in August 2020. His primary focus within the lab was on development, validation, and optimization of a new method for characterization of air-borne pathogens with the application of next-generation sequencing through the DARPA AirSeq project. Currently, his role focuses on further development and optimization of DNA barcoding methods for the DToL project. Piotr has a PhD in Biomedical Sciences, his thesis investigated ticks and certain tick-borne pathogens. He continued his work with various invertebrates at the University of Gdansk, then at the Pirbright Institute where he worked on mosquito gene drive systems.

Thomas Creedy

Bioinformatician

Thomas joined the Molecular Labs in May 2022 as a Bioinformatician. He started out as an arthropod community ecologist, moving into the molecular ecology realm with a PhD at the NHM on metabarcoding rainforest canopy arthropods. After postdocs working on metagenomics for island biogeography and climate change impacts on cocoa, he currently works on developing pipelines for the analysis of amplicon data, genome skims and ancient DNA.

Darren Chooneea

Senior molecular biologist

Dr Darren Chooneea completed a PhD in infectious diseases, microbiology, and proteomics at Public Health England. He is currently based at the NHM within the Molecular Laboratories. He is involved in numerous projects working on a range of sample types from human stool, FFPE samples, various tissues, hair, blood, and various environmental samples. He enjoys public engagement, method development, and pushing the limits of technology.

Silvia Salatino

Computational biologist

Silvia’s primary focus is developing computational pipelines to analyse sequencing data from several applications, including DNA metabarcoding, functional transcriptomics, and de novo assemblies. Before joining the NHM, she earned a PhD in Bioinformatics in Switzerland and spent five years working at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford.

Claire Griffin

Sequencing assistant

With an BSc Honours Degree in Applied Biology, Claire came to the Museum in 1999 after working in Pathology & Oncology at Charing Cross Hospital. She is the Senior Sanger Sequencing Technician, specialising in DNA extraction from difficult or degraded material. She is a key figure in the operation and management of high throughput pipelines, undertaking frequent commercial projects. Claire liaises closely with staff and students- providing support and training in various technologies and techniques.

Carla Gustave

Lab assistant

Carla has an Honours degree in Biology from the University of Manchester and previously worked as a lab scientist and trainer at the Alderley Park COVID-19 Lighthouse Lab.  This involved RNA extractions and qPCRs to analyse patient samples. At the NHM, she assists with lab operations and management, as well as helping out on numerous R&D projects.

Owain Powell

Lab assistant (Urban Nature Project)

Owain graduated from the University of Reading with a degree in Chemistry, worked in a chemists, and volunteered at a local foodbank before joining the team this year. He works on an offshoot of the Urban Nature Project (UNP) enabling underrepresented audiences to connect with nature, the museum, and its gardens. In the lab he conducts eDNA soil analyses to detect changing biodiversity in London community gardens. 

Molecular lab selected publications 

Comparing the accuracy and efficiency of third generation DNA barcode sequencing: Oxford Nanopore Technologies versus Pacific Biosciences (Preprint). Piotr Cuber, Darren Chooneea, Clementine Geeves, Silvia Salatino, Thomas J Creedy, Claire Griffin, Laura Sivess, Ian Barnes, Ben Price, Raju Misra. BioRXiv doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.07.13.499863

Air pollution induces Staphylococcus aureus USA300 respiratory tract colonization mediated by specific bacterial genetic responses involving the global virulence gene regulators Agr and Sae. (2022)  Jo Purves, Shane J. K. Hussey, Louise Corscadden, Lillie Purser, Andie Hall, Raju Misra, Liza Selley, Paul S. Monks, Julian M. Ketley, Peter W. Andrew and Julie A. Morrissey. Environmental Microbiology 00(00), 00–00 doi:10.1111/1462-2920.16076.

Unprecedented frequency of mitochondrial introns in colonial bilaterians. (2022) Helen Louise Jenkins, Rachael Graham, Joanne Sara Porter, Leandro Manzoni Vieira, Ana Carolina Sousa de Almeida, Andie Hall, Aaron O’Dea, Simon Edward Coppard &  Andrea Waeschenbach . Sci Rep 12, 10889 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-14477-3

Revision of the World Species of Megaphragma Timberlake (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) (2022). Polaszek A, Fusu L, Viggiani G, Hall A, Hanson P, Polilov AA. Insects. 13(6):561. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13060561

The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Halting Sustainable Development in the Colca y Volcanes de Andagua UNESCO Global Geopark in Peru. (2022). Andrzej Gałaś , Roya Elaine Haghighat-Khah, Piotr Cuber , Melvin Benavente , Denise Gorfinkiel and Slávka Gałaś. Prospects and Future Sustainability 14, 4043 https://doi.org/10.3390/su14074043

Diversity and Phylogeny of Novel Cord-Forming Fungi from Borneo. (2022). Foster, R.; Hartikainen, H.; Hall, A.; Bass, D.  Microorganisms 10, 239. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms10020239

Comparative Genomics Analysis Demonstrated a Link Between Staphylococci Isolated from Different Sources: A Possible Public Health Risk. (2021). Cave, R., Misra, R., Chen, J., Wang, S. and Mkrtchyan, H.V.  Frontiers in Microbiology (12)257 DOI 10.3389/fmicb.2021.576696​

DEFRA Centre of Excellence for DNA Methods: Evaluation of DNA barcode libraries used in the UK and developing an action plan to fill priority gaps. Natural England Joint Publication JP035. (2020). ​Ben Price, Andy Briscoe, Raju Misra and Gavin Broad https://nhm.openrepository.com/handle/10141/622857

The levels of sICAM-1, sELAM-1, TNFα and sTNFR1 proteins in patients with colorectal adenocarcinoma in tumor and corresponding normal mucosa (2020).​Joanna Katarzyna Strzelczyk, Piotr Cuber, Benjamin Bochon, Krzysztof Gajdzik, Janusz Strzelczyk, Łukasz Krakowczyk, Andrzej Wiczkowski, Aleksander Jerzy Owczarek and Zofia Ostrowska. Acta Biochimica Polonica Epub: No 5449. Vol. 67. https://doi.org/10.18388/abp.2020_5449

Mitochondrial and plastid genome variability of Corallina officinalis (Corallinales, Rhodophyta) (2020) Chris Yesson, Xueni Bian, Christopher Williamson, Andrew G Briscoe & Juliet Brodie Applied Phycology, 1:1, 73-9,  DOI: 10.1080/26388081.2020.1827940​

Treatments for Lipid Oxidation in Taxidermy and Impact on DNA Recovery (2020) Lu Allington-Jones & Ranbir Bailey Studies in conservation. DOI: 10.1080/00393630.2020.1855858

Development of a Molecular Snail Xeno-monitoring Assay to Detect Schistosoma haematobium and Schistosoma bovis Infections in their Bulinus Snail Hosts. 2020. Tom Pennance, John Archer, Elena Birgitta Lugli, Penny Rostron ,Felix Llanwarne, Said Mohammed Ali, Amour Khamis Amour,Khamis Rashid Suleiman, Sarah Li , David Rollinson, Jo Cable, Stefanie Knopp, Fiona Allan, Shaali Makame Ame  and Bonnie Lee Webster. Molecules 2020, 25, 4011; doi:10.3390/molecules25174011

Metabarcoding unsorted kick-samples facilitates macroinvertebrate-based biomonitoring with increased taxonomic resolution, while outperforming environmental DNA (2020) Lyndall Pereira-da-Conceicoa, Vasco Elbrecht, Andie Hall, Andrew Briscoe,  Helen Barber-James, Benjamin Price. Environmental DNA. 2020;00:1–19. DOI: 10.1002/edn3.116  ​

The first mitochondrial genomes of endosymbiotic rhabdocoels illustrate evolutionary relaxation of atp8 and genome plasticity in flatworms (2020). Marlies Monnens, SofieThijs, Andrew G Briscoe et al. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules Volume 162, 1 November 2020, Pages 454- 469. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2020.06.025

Polaszek A, Noyes JS, Russell S, Ramadan MM (2020) Metaphycus macadamiae (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) – a biological control agent of macadamia felted coccid Acanthococcus ironsidei (Hemiptera: Eriococcidae) in Hawaii. PLoSONE 15(4):e0230944. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230944

​The increased sensitivity of qPCR in comparison to Kato-Katz is required for the accurate ​assessment of the prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth infection in settings that have received multiple rounds of mass drug administration. Dunn, JC. Papaiakovou, M. Thwe Han, K. Chooneea, D…Misra, R. et al. Parasites & Vectors volume 13, Article number: 324 (2020) doi: 10.1186/s13071-020-04197-w

​Redefining Pyropia (Bangiales, Rhodophyta): Four New Genera, Resurrection of Porphyrella and Description of Calidia pseudolobata sp. nov. From China (2020). Li En Yang, Yin Yin Deng, Guang Ping Xu, Stephen Russell, Qin Qin Lu, Juliet Brodie . Journal of Phycology https://doi.org/10.1111/jpy.12992

Equivocal Evidence for Colony Level Stress Effects on Bumble Bee Pollination Services. (2020) Arran Greenop, Nevine Mica-Hawkyard, Sarah Walkington, Andrew Wilby, Samantha M Cook, Richard F Pywell and Ben A Woodcock. Insects , 11, 191; doi:10.3390/insects11030191 

Comparative Proteomic Profiling of Methicillin-Susceptible and Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. (2020) Xu Z, Chen J, Vougas K, Shah A, Shah H, Misra R, Mkrtchyan HV  Proteomics.  Jan;20(2):e1900221. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201900221.

Novel Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus CC8 Clone Identified in a Hospital Setting in Armenia. (2019) Jamrozy D, Misra R, Xu Z, Ter-Stepanyan MM, Kocharyan KS, Cave R, Hambardzumyan AD, Mkrtchyan HV.  Microbiology. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01592

Pooling as a strategy for the timely diagnosis of soil transmitted helminths in stool: value and reproducibility. Marina Papaiakovou, James Wright, Nils Pilotte, Darren Chooneaa et al. (2019). Parasites and Vectors. DOI:10.1186/s13071-019-3693-3

Integrated Approach Reveals Role of Mitochondrial Germ-Line Mutation F18L in Respiratory Chain, Oxidative Alterations, Drug Sensitivity, and Patient Prognosis in Glioblastoma (2019). Kathleen Keatley ,Samuel Stromei-Cleroux ,Tammy Wiltshire ,Nina Rajala,Gary Burton,William V. Holt,D. Timothy J. Littlewood, Andrew G. Briscoe et al  International Journal of Molecular Sciences 20(13):3364. DOI: 10.3390/ijms20133364

Deep-Sea anthropogenic macrodebris harbours rich and diverse communities of bacteria and archaea. (2018)​ Woodall, L.C., Jungblut, A.D., Hopkins, K., Hall. A., Robinson, L.F., Gwinnett, C., Paterson, G.L.J. Plos One. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0206220

Molecular laboratories

We carry out interdisciplinary research for all Museum departments.