FOR most of my professional career I have worked as a biomedical scientist in the University of Glasgow. During much of this time I taught and conducted biological research in the late, lamented Department of Biochemistry, where my areas of interest included protein biosynthesis, ribosomal protein phosphorylation, the protein kinases of DNA viruses, actin gene structure, and virus genomes.
If asked what were the most significant contributions of my laboratory to science, I would mention two. First, identifying which proteins are phosphorylated on eukaryotic ribosomes and establishing a relationship between the phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 and cell growth. Second, showing that certain large DNA viruses encode protein kinases related to the cytoplasmic serine/threonine protein kinases of eukaryotes. If asked what my biggest scientific disappointments were, I would say they were not being able to discover the functional significance or the phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6, and not being able to establish functions for the viral protein kinases.
About ten years ago I obtained an MSc in Information Technology, after which I deserted the laboratory bench for the computer, turning my energies (including those apportioned to teaching) to Bioinformatics. Most of this has involved development of software for the desktop or for the web browser, and is described on other pages. My software does not implement new algorithms, involve complex mathematical concepts, or introduce new methods of visualization. Rather, it attempts to apply my experience as a biological scientist and understanding of human–computer interaction to making ‘usable’ software — software in which data can be retrieved in as straight-forward a manner as possible, and is then presented in a visual and comprehensible way. Whether or not the software has achieved these aims is for the user to judge.