Helen Horkan

Helen is a PhD student, funded through the SFI Centre for Research Training in Genomic Data Science. She graduated in 2019 with a BSc in Medical Genetics from the University of Huddersfield. During her undergraduate studies she undertook a year-long research placement investigating metabolic pathways in choanoflagellates using computational techniques to mine transcriptomes. Following this she pursued a computational undergraduate thesis, calculating sequence divergence and divergence times in Apodemus, based on whole-genome high-density genotyping data from RADSeq.

Helen’s PhD research focuses on unlocking the secrets of extreme longevity in Hydractinia. Using a combination of in vitro, in vivo, and in silico techniques, she aims to identify genes associated with DNA damage response. Rather than looking at the entire organism, Helen’s approach is to study DNA repair in a cell type-specific manner. Animals like Hydractinia, where age-related deterioration does not seem to occur, offer the opportunity to discover novel mechanisms that support genome stability.

In her spare time she enjoys rock climbing and refereeing roller derby internationally.

Read Helen’s posts on Twitter @HHorkan

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