Stephen Bustin - Biography#

Stephen Bustin obtained his PhD in Molecular Genetics from Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland. His early work accomplished the first cloning of a gene in Ireland and led to the development of Bacillus subtilis as an alternative cloning host. He carried out post-doctoral research at the UK Animal Virus Research Institute on cloning and sequencing Foot and Mouth Disease Virus, before moving to the corporate research facility at Amersham International plc, focusing on inventing and researching new technologies for nucleic acid amplification, gene synthesis and cloning. During that time he visited the Protein Research Institute in Puschchino, USSR twice and collaborated on a project designed to synthesise proteins on a preparative scale in a continuous cell-free translation system. He also obtained a patent for lyophilising PCR reagents. He returned to academic research as Senior Lecturer at the then London Hospital Medical College (1989), where his research concentrated on methods to improve the reliability of colorectal cancer prognostic tests. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer (1995) and then Reader (2002) and Professor of Molecular Science (2004) at Queen Mary University of London after the merger of the Medical School with QMUL. In 2012 he moved to Anglia Ruskin University’s Chelmsford Campus as Professor of Allied Health and Medicine and since 2014 is Professor of Molecular Medicine at ARU, where his research interests centre around developing novel approaches for the early diagnosis of infectious diseases.

Professor Bustin was an expert witness advising the UK High Court on PCR technology in the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine - Autism class action (2003-2007). In 2007 he also was an expert witness for the US Dept of Justice and testified at the MMR trial in Washington DC in 2007. His evidence was mainly responsible for discrediting the molecular evidence presented in favour of a link between the MMR vaccine, a new type of gastrointestinal disorder and autism in children. He has also acted as an expert witness in several international patent and criminal trials in the UK, Switzerland and New Zealand.

He has authored numerous papers, review articles and book chapters aimed at improving the reproducibility and robustness of molecular methods, especially those based on the use of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and has presented hundreds of talks and workshops worldwide on this subject. He has published three books, (i) the “A-Z of quantitative PCR” (2004), universally known as the “qPCR bible”, (ii) “The PCR Revolution” (2011) and (iii) “PCR Technology” (2013). He led an international consortium developing the MIQE guidelines for the use and reporting of real-time (2009) and digital PCR (2013). During the COVID-19 pandemic he published several papers highlighting the importance of correct testing for SARS-CoV-2, debunking the false information surrounding the validity of qPCR testing and developed a novel five-plex assay targeting the virus. He is currently developing a sub five-minute combined extraction, RT and PCR test for point-of-care diagnosis. He has given numerous TV and radio interviews on COVID-testing.

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