CBRI Seminar – Quin Wills – 3rd June, 2016

UOM-Hallmark_CompBiol-CMYK-REVNature, Nietzsche and Nurture: single-cell sequencing, imaging and culture of gene edited macrophages to study inflammation

Quin Wills (Oxford University, UK)

Friday 3rd June, 2016


ESJ King Theatre, Medical Building, The University of Melbourne


Technical improvements in single-cell perturbation, live-cell imaging and single-cell sequencing are enabling the detailed dissection of heterogeneous inflammatory cell states. Combining all three modalities with the new Polaris lab-on-chip platform, we are performing temporal studies of CRISPR-edited macrophage responses to inflammatory perturbation and HIV infection. While macrophages have poorly understood predetermined inflammatory phenotypes (their ‘nature’), they are also highly plastic to microenvironmental cues (‘nurture’). I’ll discuss surprising results around a third axis (which I call the ‘Nietzsche effect’) that can now be studied thanks to single-cell approaches.



Being trained in clinical medicine, molecular genetics and the quantitative sciences (computational biology, mathematics and statistics), my long-standing interest is in single-cell genomics. While some geneticists emphasise the transformative role of big data epidemiology as a precision medicine tool, my research goals lie with sequencing and editing biology at the resolution of single cells to study complex processes. Put another way, I study within-patient variability and use reverse genetics –  rather than traditional between-patient genetic variability –  as my tools to dissect function. As a Career Development Fellow helping steer Oxford’s new £5M funded Single-Cell Biology Consortium, I’m developing experimental and computational techniques in this fledgling field.

Enquiries: Andrew Siebel (asiebel@unimelb.edu.au)