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Oliver Britton, finalist in the UK ICT Pioneers awards, 2014


UK ICT Pioneers is a unique partnership between EPSRC and key stakeholders that aims to recognise the most exceptional UK PhD students in ICT-related topics who are able to communicate and demonstrate the excellence and exploitation potential of their research. The 2013/14 competition is being sponsored by: Dstl, HP, EPSRC, ARM, BCS and BT.  The competition is open to all second and third year UK postgraduate research students in ICT-related subjects including but not restricted to Electronics, Communications, Computer Science and Human-Computer Interfaces and Photonics. 

Using computational modelling and simulation, Oliver's DPhil project addresses a key part of understanding any biological system - how does the variability between different individuals causes differences in their behaviour. Variability exists at every scale of biology, from the abundances of proteins in single cells to the behaviour of individuals. Measuring and understanding this variability through direct experimental measurements is difficult, particularly in humans. This means we must currently rely on our understanding of the average behaviour of whole species, rather than on the behaviour of individuals, when we are trying to solve medical problems like whether a drug is safe for a given patient.  To begin to tackle this problem, Oliver has developed a computational methodology that integrates experimental data and computational simulations to investigate causes and modulators of biological variability.