Dr Gemma Murray

MPhys, MA, MPhil, MSc, PhD

Fellow (B), Tutor

College Roles

  • Wheldale Onslow Research Fellow (B)
  • Assistant Tutor (Undergraduates)

University Roles

  • Research Associate, Department of Veterinary Medicine

Contact

Email: ggrm2@cam.ac.uk

Biography

Dr Gemma Murray studied physics at the University of St Andrews, and philosophy of physics and mathematics at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Cambridge. She moved into the field of evolutionary biology and population genetics at the University of Edinburgh, where she completed a master’s degree, and undertook research on the genetic susceptibility to infectious disease in East African cattle.

She moved to the University of Cambridge for her PhD, where she developed methods of analysing genome sequences to understand the adaptation of bacterial pathogens to new host species, and the dynamics of disease outbreaks. Following her PhD, Gemma moved to the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she undertook research on the extinct passenger pigeon, using DNA from museum specimens to assess what factors may have led to its extraordinarily rapid decline.

Gemma is now the Wheldale Onslow Research Fellow at Newnham College and a Research Associate in the Department of Veterinary Medicine.

Research Interests

Dr. Gemma Murray is an evolutionary biologist, and is currently investigating why and how bacteria evolve to cause disease in their hosts. Her approach involves analysis of natural populations of bacterial pathogens, and their close commensal relatives. She uses genome sequence data to understand the structure, and evolutionary dynamics of these populations. Her work is highly collaborative, and involves working with scientists from other disciplines to better understand the ecologies of her study systems, and to develop applications of her research.

Gemma’s current focus is the bacteria Streptococcus suis, a globally important pathogen in pigs, that has a substantial impact on antibiotic use and animal welfare in pig farming, and which can also cause serious infections in humans. Her work on this pathogen has contributed to the development of a vaccine and new diagnostic tests.