About Us | Meet the Team

We currently have five staff, headed by Dr. Nicholas Helps. Working closely as a team we undertake all the day-to-day operations within the facility, such as intake and processing of samples, data analysis and financial tracking – and of course, customer service!

We are a dynamic team always looking for a challenge.


Nick Helps

Name: Nick Helps

Title: Head of Facility

Year Joined: 1998

I am originally from the south of England and undertook my initial university studies in Bristol where I obtained a first class honours degree in Biochemistry. I then moved to Leicester, where my PhD studying involved a highly conserved gene identified in a screen for metastasis-related cell products. Following my doctoral work I moved to Dundee and undertook six years of research in the laboratory of Professor Tricia Cohen, where I studied the function of protein phosphatases.

In 1998 I decided that I needed a change from academic research and was offered the opportunity to head up a new service undertaking DNA sequencing for the MRC Unit here in Dundee. From initial small-scale work undertaken by me and two other technical staff, I grew the business to offer DNA sequencing and related services to the entire School of Life Sciences and hundreds of external customers from all over the UK and beyond.

In my role as head of the facility I have to manage staff, install, run and maintain state of the art equipment and learn many other business functions. I am very proud of what my staff and I have achieved and that we offer a fast, efficient and friendly service to all our customers, whilst also supporting the important academic work of our parent laboratory.

Gary Hunter

Name: Gary Hunter

Title: Senior DNA Sequencing and Services Technician

Year Joined: 2002

I’m a Dundonian graduate of the University of Dundee. I was very excited to join Life Sciences here as a local boy and am proud that my development has paralleled that of the service itself – we now process 10 times more than when I started. As Senior DNA Sequencing and Services Technician, I am happily dedicated to maintaining Dr Helps’ very high standards. It’s been a fascinating journey as we’ve moved from electrophoresis based to capillary based sequencing and I’ve developed a wide range of alternative protocols and know-how which I enjoy sharing with our customers. The service is a great place to work as part of a wonderful team and each day brings a new challenge. When I’m not at work I’m a family man and I enjoy walking my dogs and a generally quiet life….when life allows!

Nick Helps

Name: Fiona Traynor

Title: DNA Sequencing and Services Technician

Year Joined: 2011

I grew up on the beautiful Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides and after secondary school moved to Glasgow to obtain my BSc before later on moving to Dundee to undertake my Masters degree. I joined the facility to continue my scientific career and my role combines routine sequencing work and doing customer invoicing and account management. I’ve learned a range of skills since joining from basic DNA sequencing sample prep to everything about finance that can help me answer complex customer questions about their accounts and I’m proud to be part of a system that helps our customers get an excellent service. I enjoy working in the facility as it’s a busy environment where teamwork is key and we do all get on really well together in our group. In my spare time I enjoy going to the cinema and local book group, making a variety of arts and crafts and spending quality time with my husband.

Dawn Rooney

Name: Dawn Rooney

Title: DNA Sequencing and Services Technician

Year Joined: 2002

I was born and educated in Dundee where after several years in industry I enjoyed being a full-time mother for my 3 children. When I returned to paid work it was initiaIly to the service industries before I successfully applied for a junior role in DNA Sequencing and Services.  It has worked out really well and my role has evolved – I’m now proficient in most areas of the service with a key role in plate preparation. My experiences elsewhere have sharpened my time management and attention to detail and it’s nice to have that discipline valued within the team. In my spare time my hubbie and I love spending time with our grandchildren – and then love handing them back! 

Fraser Hughes

Name: Fraser Hughes

Title: DNA Sequencing and Services Technician

Year Joined: 2012

I was born in Aberdeen where I lived for two years before moving to Arbroath and then Houston, Texas. I returned from Houston to gain a BSc (Hons.) in Biomedical Science from Abertay University. I joined the Sequencing Service to gain some laboratory experience out of university and to gain knowledge in a field I was very interested in. My role within the service is mainly to perform the bacterial mini and maxi preps. I have gained many new practical techniques in DNA purification and DNA sequencing. We all know each other well here in the DNA Sequencing and Services team and get along extremely well which makes this a great place to work. When I am not in the sequencing facility, I enjoy socialising with friends, going to the cinema and watching football.

Learn more about how to join our team.

Do you need any help? Please get in touch and we’ll be happy to lend a hand.