Meet the Team
Please find information and links to our team's University pages below
Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine
Professor Bernard Keavney
Bernard is a British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at The University of Manchester, and a Consultant Cardiologist at Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust. He is also Honorary Professor of Medicine at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. His main research interest is in the genetics of complex cardiovascular diseases. He has made many contributions to this field. Most recently he and his colleagues published the world's first genome-wide studies of congenital heart disease, which have identified regions of the human genome that are important in heart development. He has also contributed to the identification of novel genes for inherited diseases by next-generation sequencing. Bernard practised as a Consultant Interventional Cardiologist between 2000 and 2013, maintaining a very active practice (in the top 10% of all national operators by procedure volume) alongside his research programme. More recently, his clinical focus is on genetic cardiovascular diseases where, together with colleagues, he seeks to implement an integrated research-driven service, drawing on local excellence in genetics and clinical cardiology, for affected families. Bernard currently contributes to the research community through his service on the UK Medical Research Council's Population and Systems Medicine Board and as the Chair of the UK Biobank International Scientific Advisory Board. He has held a number of similar positions previously in his career, including National Lead for the Cardiovascular Domain of the Genomics England Clinical Interpretation Partnership (GeCIP).
Dr. Liqun Zhang
As the lab manager, Liqun ensures the smooth running of the lab, and oversees the health & safety and the wellbeing of lab users. She also undertakes research projects; in particular, epigenetic analysis of candidate genes implicated in ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy, mainly using molecular biology and histology techniques.
Dr. Richard Monaghan
Richard is a specialist Molecular and Cell Biologist with a broad and detailed understanding of human population genetics and genomics. His latest work focuses on the pathological action of disease predisposing variants in rare conditions of the cardiovascular system, specifically familial congenital heart defects. Richard has over ten years postdoctoral experience, supervising and mentoring multiple PhD, Masters’, and Medical Degree lab-based research projects. His early research career began with first author publications in the world leading Nature Cell Biology journal, looking at regulation of subcellular metabolic homeostasis with links to mammalian healthspan, along with a timely companion review article, surmising a global molecular mechanistic concept that has become widely accepted. As well as being the PDRA Representative for his Division, and an Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Champion for his School, Richard also contributes directly to undergraduate teaching as a second year Biomedical Sciences tutor.
Dr. Steph Baross
Steph researched the genetic causes of congenital heart disease (CHD) using whole genome sequencing data from the 100,000 Genomes Project for her PhD. By identifying rare genetic changes, which are more common in individuals with CHD, she could identify genes linked to CHD. Using whole genome sequencing, she is able to look at variants in the non-coding genome, as well as the coding exome, for the first time, in order to study the role these regions play in heart development.
Dr. Gennadiy Tenin
Gennadiy uses large-scale genetic data from patients with congenital heart defects to find mutated genes leading to the disease. He then uses a mammalian animal model (mice) to both confirm the effect of the mutations and understand the molecular mechanisms governed by the genes involved in cardiac development.
Honorary Senior Research Fellow
Dr. Munkit Choy
Munkit is a research fellow with an interest in understanding the cardiovascular system using genomic approaches. He has a track record of investigating the epigenomic and transcriptomic regulation in heart failure. He is currently working on the mechanistic insights (chromosomal interaction and non-coding RNA) into the non-coding genetic variants associated with congenital heart diseases.
Dr. Yingjuan Liu
Yingjuan is looking into the biological function of long non-coding RNA with in vitro human cell line models. The aim of her work is to understand the regulatory function of lncRNA in cardiovascular development. Yingjuan uses GapmeR and CRISPR/Cas9 technologies to induce the repression or deletion of lncRNA and, thus, determine its influence on core cardiac gene networks and the process of cardiomyocyte differentiation.
Miss Claudia-Ioana Fifirig
Claudia is a research assistant with an interest in investigating the molecular underpinning of cardiovascular development and the resulting congenital diseases when the developmental processes go wrong. Currently she is working alongside other members of our lab on a project focused on analysing the involvement of an epigenetic modifier gene in CHD.
Honorary Research Associate
Dr. Simon Frain
Dr Frain, after a medical career in cardiology and then general practice, has worked in the Keavney Group on several projects. These range from a project deeply rooted in genomics through to electronic healthcare record-based research using data from the half a million participants in UK Biobank and the 13 million patients in one of the UK’s Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) data sets as seen in the publications listed below. His skills include data analysis using R; describing the relevance of medical conditions to individual pieces of research; and assessing the medical and health policy implications of results.
BHF PhD Student
Mr. Hayden Jones
Hayden’s doctoral research project is centred on examining the role of a specific long non-coding RNA in the development of atrial fibrillation (AF), a medical condition that afflicts over 33 million individuals globally. Recent investigations have uncovered three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within a region of linkage disequilibrium that are correlated with an elevated risk of AF, indicating that this locus may be implicated in the pathogenesis of the disease. The primary objective of Hayden’s research is to elucidate the function of the transcript and to identify novel enhancer regions within the locus. To accomplish this, Hayden employs an array of sophisticated techniques, including CRISPR interference (CRISPRi), CRISPR-mediated gene knockouts, RNA sequencing, molecular cloning, among others. The application of these techniques will provide valuable insights into the mechanisms by which this locus operates and its contribution to the disease process.
A*STAR PhD Student
Mr. Dom Byrne
Dom's project focuses on using UK Biobank data to train deep-learning models to predict CHD risk from patient genomic data with a view to improving genetic counselling capabilities and identifying novel genetic factors. As part of the A*STAR PhD programme, Dom will spend two years in Singapore.