The Grand Locus / Life for statistical sciences


About me

I am a scientist who loves biology and mathematics. As of late I also got into computers and the Internet.

It all started when I first heard of Darwin and the Theory of Evolution. I got fascinated by the idea that our parents, grand parents, and a whole bunch of people that we will never meet survive a little bit in each one of us, or at least in our DNA. From that moment I wanted to understand the message etched by our ancestors in every single cell of our body, and quite naturally ended up studying DNA.

Today I am the head of a research team at the CRG in Barcelona. Our main focus is to understand how the regulatory genome is decoded by the cell, or in other terms, how cells know what to do with their DNA.

I started this blog because I love writing and sharing knowlege. I try to keep it diverse, in the limit of my own interests so my research is only a small fraction of it.


You can contact me by for any matter related to the blog. If you have comments or feedback about the content, I also invite you to post them on the forum directly.

Post update and subscription

You may have noticed the Subscribe... section in the top left corner. You can click on the RSS or the email icon to be notified of new posts, either in your favourite reader, or directly by email. The atom feeds contain only an abstract of the post because the optional sections and the mathematics formulas read very poorly in a reader or in a mail.

As of today, the feeds are powerd by FeedBurner, which belongs to Google. Unfortunately, Google does not seem to be enthusiastic about the RSS technology and they threaten to discontinue this service. If that happens, I will provide other ways to keep you up-to-date. Besides, I always announce new posts on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

About the blog

A pimiento next to the title of the post means that the article is about statistics or that it involve some mathematics. I try to make the content accessible for everybody, but most likely, you will need to spend some time on the hardest sections if you want to understand them in full. The articles with two pimientos will be of interest for those who want a deep technical understanding.

For the sake of readability, I try to put the technical parts out of the way. A message says when a blog post contains a technical section. If you like challenges, or you want to go deeper, you can click on the Penrose triangles to show them.

Whatever you think about The Grand Locus, or about a particular post, I'd be happy to .


The design of The Grand Locus is the work of Brit Pavelson. I asked her to do something old-fashioned and never seen for a scientific website. She mixed in her very strong personal style and came up with this. First I found it too aggressive, but eventually I recognized the balance and the simplicity of the graphics. I started developing the app with a design in the line of her prototype and I am quite happy the way it came out.

Behind the scene, The Grand Locus is a Python app powered by Google App Engine. I put the code of the blog on Github where you can download or fork it. The code is itself a fork of Bloggart, an app written by Nick Johson. I have never met you Nick, but if you ever read this, here is a big thank word for you. I probably learned more Python from you than from anyone else, I owe you big time.

Google App Engine is a cloud service from Google. The nicest thing about it is that you do not have to pay for it, but for some reason it is a bit buggy and slow at times. It even happens that the server is down, which means that you might experience some slowness or difficulties with connecting to The Grand Locus. For now problems seem to be the exception more than the rule. Please if you experience recurrent problems.

For handling scientific content, I took a lot of inspiration from Stack Exchange, where I am active mostly on Cross-Validated. The occasional LaTeX math formulas are handled by mathjax and the syntax highlighting in the code uses Pygments.

I am also using the Markdown interpreter Showdown, qTip2 for context bubbles, and of course jQuery.

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Blog roll
Simply Stats
Ivory Idyll
Bits of DNA