Viral diagnostic testing

Ulster University, led by Professor Colum Walsh, has helped resource and establish vital new types of viral diagnostic tests


Working in close partnership the clinicians and biomedical scientists at the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT), scientists from Ulster University led by Professor Colum Walsh have helped resource and establish vital new types of viral diagnostic tests.

These new tests, which are based on the reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technique which is considered the gold standard, were identified and tested by Professor Colum Walsh, who is based in the Biomedical Sciences Research Institute at Coleraine (BMSRI), and is the Diagnostics Lead in the COVID-19 Consortium.

He has been working throughout with Prof. Tony Bjourson, Dr Vanesa Devine (C-TRIC), Dr Taranjit Singh Rai (C-TRIC, Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine), Dr. Rachelle Irwin, Dr. Coral Lapsley and Dr. Andrew English (Centre for Personalised Medicine (CPM), C-TRIC), as well as the clinicians and biomedical scientists within the WHSCT, to develop new workflows for COVID-19 testing and help train staff at Altnagelvin Hospital’s laboratories.

Together they have boosted viral testing more than 10-fold at the hospital and helped it cope with the second wave of infection.

Related staff

Professor Colum Walsh

Professor of Genetics

School of Biomedical Sciences

Areas of expertise

Molecular diagnostics, genetic epidemiology, virology, bioinformatics


Dr Taranjit Singh Rai

Lecturer in Cellular Ageing

School of Biomedical Sciences


Dr Andrew English

Research Associate in Biomarkers for Personalised Medicines

School of Biomedical Sciences


Dr Rachelle Irwin

Lecturer in Genomic Medicine

School of Biomedical Sciences