Dr Várnai received a PhD in computational physics from the Engineering Department, University of Cambridge in 2011. She developed an adaptive QM/MM technique for molecular modelling of reactions in solution.
From 2011 to 2014, Dr Várnai was a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Systems Biology Centre, University of Warwick. She worked on method development for ab-initio protein structure prediction and protein-protein interaction prediction from evolutionary information of protein sequences, using Bayesian methods and molecular modelling.
From 2014 to 2016, Dr Várnai was a Research Fellow, then from 2016 to 2019 a senior research scientist at the Nuclear Dynamics Programme of the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, UK. Her research focussed on statistical analysis and molecular modelling of chromatin structure based on next generation sequencing data for chromosome conformation capture (Hi-C and single-cell Hi-C) experiments. In close collaboration with experimentalists, she studied structural changes of the genome and its interplay with epigenetic marks and gene expression throughout the cell cycle and in pre-implantation embryonic development of mice, as well as the role of cohesin complex in the formation of chromatin structure.
In 2019, Dr Várnai joined the University of Birmingham as a Research Fellow in Bioinformatics. Her role focussed on the computational biology aspect of often large collaborative research projects with microbiologists and clinicians. She also provided data analysis and experimental design advice as well as bioinformatics analysis quotes for grant applications, and she managed and delivered bioinformatics service.
In 2022, Dr Várnai has joined the faculty of the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences as an Assistant Professor in Bioinformatics in a Research & Teaching role.