Chris Upton

Biochemistry & Microbiology


The primary focus of research in my lab is Viral Bioinformatics: The application of computer technology to the management of biological information. Computers are essential for gathering, storing and analyzing the vast amount of biological and genetic information that is being generated by new high-through-put technologies in the biosciences (DNA sequencing; DNA-chip; proteomics). The knowledge we gain from Bioinformatics research can be applied to a variety of research areas, including the process of gene-based drug discovery.

Specifically, my group is developing specialized software to help automate the process of genomic analysis and predicting gene function in large virus genomes (poxviruses, herpesviruses, baculoviruses). These large viruses have 100-200 genes and the function of many of the proteins produced by the viruses remains a mystery. We have used viral sequences to discover novel similarities with human genes and, conversely, known human proteins to predict the function of virus proteins. The software helps us analyze the numerous virus genomes that have recently been completely sequenced and also aids in the annotation of newly sequenced genomes. We have a strong interest in the evolution and structure of viral genomes.