Dr Simon Wagstaff

Head of Scientific Computing

Simon Wagstaff graduated in Biochemistry from Bath University in 1994 and obtained his PhD from Liverpool University in 1998. He then worked on the identification and commercialisation of novel markers of skeletal remodelling and on the molecular mechanisms underpinning skeletal remodelling and tumour proliferation.

After a 4 year break from full-time research as a Lecturer at Liverpool Hope, he joined the Alistair Reid Venom Research Unit, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, in 2004 to work on an exciting new research program exploiting 'omics' technologies to improve the understanding and treatment of snake envenoming.

Simon established LSTM’s Bioinformatics Unit in 2011 and has since been engaged in a broad range of new collaborative research projects throughout LSTM’s portfolio.


My main research interests are in the development and deployment of bioinformatics tools to translational tropical medicine. Initially this focused on snake venoms - a fascinatingly complex cocktail of components with the potential to interact with numerous other molecules distributed across diverse taxonomic groups. Like many biological samples, these complex cocktails are particularly amenable to a combination of high throughput sequence analysis, proteomic and metabolomic studies which we are applying to identify and characterise venom components and design new treatment for the immunotherapeutic treatment of snake bite.

Bioinformatics tools such as the design and construction of project-specific data management tools, protein and metabolite identification, sequence analysis, mapping, assembly, annotation and network analysis are applicable to a broad range of research questions.

I’m engaged in a number of collaborative projects with other research groups in LSTM, notably the exploitation of bioinformatic tools and network analysis to deduce complex relationships between ‘omics’ and high throughput screening datasets.

I'm particularly interested in new methods to integrate and visualise complex data from multiple sources.

As Head of Scientific Computing, I work closely with research groups across the institute to ensure that they have access to the best available computational tools and technologies to support their research.


Co-convenor of Trop970 (Applied Bioinformatics). Contributions to other modules throughout the MSc portfolio.

Selected publications

  • Cook DA, Samarasekara CL, Wagstaff SC, Kinne J, Wernery U and Harrison RA (2010). Analysis of camelid IgG for antivenom development: Immunoreactivity and preclinical neutralisation of venom-induced pathology by IgG subclasses, and the effect of heat treatment. Toxicon [Epub ahead of print].

    Cook DA, Owen T, Wagstaff SC, Kinne J, Wernery U and Harrison RA (2010). Analysis of camelid antibodies for antivenom development: Neutralisation of venom-induced pathology. Toxicon [Epub ahead of print].

    Cook DA, Owen T, Wagstaff SC, Kinne J, Wernery U and Harrison RA (2010). Analysis of camelid IgG for antivenom development: Serological responses of venom-immunised camels to prepare either monospecific or polyspecific antivenoms for West Africa. Toxicon [Epub ahead of print].

    Currier RB, Harrison RA, Rowley PD, Laing GD and Wagstaff SC (2010). Intra-specific variation in venom of the African Puff Adder (Bitis arietans): differential expression and activity of snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs).Toxicon 55: 864-873.

    Fasoli E, Sanz L, Wagstaff SC, Harrison RA, Righetti PG and Calvete JJ (2010). Exploring the venom proteome of the African puff adder, Bitis arietans, using a combinatorial peptide ligand library approach with elution at different pHs. Journal of Proteomics 73: 932-942.

    Casewell NR, Harrison RA, Wüster W and Wagstaff SC (2009). Comparative venom gland transcriptome surveys of the saw-scaled vipers (Viperidae: Echis) reveal substantial intra-family gene diversity and novel venom transcripts.BMC Genomics 10: 564.

    Harrison RA, Hargreaves A, Wagstaff SC, Faragher B and Lalloo DG (2009). Snake envenoming: a disease of poverty. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 3: e569.

    Wagstaff SC, Sanz L, Juárez P, Harrison RA and Calvete JJ (2009). Combined snake venomics and venom gland transcriptomic analysis of the ocellated carpet viper, Echis ocellatusJournal of Proteomics 71: 609-623.

    Wagstaff SC, Favreau P, Cheneval O, Laing GD, Wilkinson MC, Miller RL, Stöcklin R and Harrison RA (2008). Molecular characterisation of endogenous snake venom metalloproteinase inhibitors. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 365: 650-656.

    Wagstaff SC, Laing GD, Theakston RDG, Papaspyridis C and Harrison RA (2006). Bioinformatics and multi-epitope DNA immunization to design rational snake antivenom. PLOS Medicine 3: e184.

    Wagstaff SC and Harrison RA (2006). Venom gland EST analysis of the saw-scaled viper, Echis ocellatus, reveals novel α9β1 integrin-binding motifs in venom metalloproteinases and a new group of putative toxins, renin-like aspartic proteases. Gene 377: 21-32.

    Juárez P, Wagstaff SC, Sanz L, Harrison RA and Calvete JJ (2006). Molecular cloning of Echis ocellatus disintegrins reveals non-venom-secreted proteins and a pathway for the evolution of ocellatusin. Journal of Molecular Evolution63: 183-193.