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Professor Nicola Mulder BSc(Hons) PhD(Cape Town)

Computational Biology Group

Nicola Mulder

Head of Division, Computational Biology, Department of Integrative Biomedical Sciences, & Member of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM), Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town; President of the African Society for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

The Computational Biology (CBIO) Group is the centre of Bioinformatics activities at the University of Cape Town. It aims to perform world-class bioinformatics research and provide high quality bioinformatics education, training and services. Nicola Mulder’s main research interests lie in the areas of infectious diseases and human genetics.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis and host-pathogen interactions
Investigating several areas related to the molecular biology of the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB):

  • Gene duplication and family expansion in the mycobacteria, as up to half the genome of MTB is known to belong to expanded families. Performing functional and evolutionary analysis on the expanded families to determine how they evolved and whether they play a role in virulence.
  • A large percentage of the MTB genome, particularly those genes that are unique to the mycobacteria, are currently labelled as hypothetical proteins, which make functional analysis of these families a challenge. We are addressing this using an MTB functional interaction network we generated using a large-scale data integration approach. This network is being used to predict functions for uncharacterised proteins using the "guilt-by association" principle, and to identify key proteins that may be essential for the functioning of the biological system.
  • Together with collaborators in the Swiss-Prot group at the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), working on characterizing and annotating the complete metabolic pathways of the mycobacteria.
  • Using the MTB functional interaction network together with the human interactome to predict new host-pathogen interactions. We have used protein-protein interaction prediction methods as well as neighbourhoods of known host-pathogen interacting proteins to achieve this.

Human genetics and infectious diseases
Together with collaborators at Stellenbosch University, studying admixture in the Coloured population of the Western Cape and susceptibility to TB. We also work with the Human Genetics Department at UCT on general African genome variation and relation to disease. The group is currently working with Bioinformatics research groups around Africa, forming a bioinformatics network for the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) project.

Bioinformatics tools and support
In addition to research, we provide bioinformatics services to other researchers in the Institute. We are developing an annotation pipeline for the assembly and analysis of sequencing data, as well as visualisation tools for sequence and pathway data using the DAS (Distributed Annotation System) technology. We also work collaboratively with researchers requiring help with general bioinformatics problems and large-scale data analysis.




For an up to date publication list see:



Contact details:

Computational Biology Group
Room N1.05, Wernher & Beit North
Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Cape Town
Observatory 7925
South Africa

Tel:  +27 21 406 6058

Alternate site:


Group members:


Postdoctoral fellows and students:



The CBIO division at UCT leads H3ABioNet, an NIH-funded Pan African bioinformatics network for H3Africa.