Adam Dawe, PhD | Bioinformatics Consultant


I got hooked on Biochemistry at the age of 13 when I first picked up a copy of Scientific American in the school library. I am still fascinated by the endless variety and complexity of the chemistry that results in life itself. Every molecule in every organism in every community has its own story from hints of past challenges and lifestyles, to current strategies and possible futures – it’s impossible to be bored or not to occasionally be drawn back to ponder on the meaning of it all.

In parallel with my interest in Biochemistry, I have also had a shadow career in IT which began when I started programming for fun at the age of 9. About 15 years ago, before my lab-based PhD and while temping in London at a small financial company, I was introduced to the world of designing and working with databases – something to which I would keep returning and have since found immensely useful in a scientific context. This experience also eventually gave rise to strong interests in data security and standards, and open source software.

Despite enjoying lab work, I found myself increasingly being drawn to the more informatics aspects of analyses. I therefore left the lab to come back to South Africa to do a series of postdocs at the South African National Bioinformatics Institute, followed by another in the Middle East, and haven’t looked back since.


My research experience covers a wide range of projects and topics including: bacterial metagenomics; effects of mobile phone radiation on stress responses in nematodes; managing and curating an HIV molecular integration database; text- and data-mining; various plant-based bioinformatics analyses; identification of proteolytic enzymes from stressed breast cancer cells and investigating differences in gene expression between fertile and non-fertile human spermatozoa. I’m very comfortable operating in cross-disciplinary environments and have worked with, amongst others, biophysicists, engineers and medical doctors. I’ve also been effective when working both in teams and on my own.


In addition to the consultancy, I am an independent, self-funded scientist with a strong interest in all things toxic (ecotoxicogenomics and systems toxicology). I attribute my fascination with toxins to a more fundamental interest in how complex systems (or aspects thereof) can be selectively altered or made to fail, as well as how to prevent this.


PhD (2005) (Molecular Toxicology), University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
Investigation of the Biological Effects of Radiofrequency Fields Using the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

BSc Honours (1997) (cum laude) (Biochemistry), University of Natal, South Africa
Identification of a Putative Matrix Metalloproteinase From a c-Ha-ras-Transformed Breast Cancer cell line.

BSc (1996) (summa cum laude) (Biochemistry & Plant Molecular Biology), University of Natal, South Africa