THE ROSLIN INSTITUTE: Principal Investigator (1988 to date); Director ARK-Genomics (2000 to date)
I was initially appointed in 1988 to work on the control of muscle gene expression in poultry. There were major advances being made in human genetics at the time, with whole genome mapping studies. I felt this was a direction in which farm animal genetics should be moving, and so in 1993 I changed my direction of research into Avian Genomics. Research fell into two mutually dependent paths: development of tools for genome analysis and there use to characterise genetic traits, mostly quantitative in nature. Since this period I have led UK and International efforts in chicken and comparative genomics, both developing genome resources and using this information to map and characterise genetic traits. In the last few years my research has focussed more and more at the genome level, initially with the creation of the ARK-Genomics functional genomics project (www.ark-genomics.org) and lately with my role in the chicken and other avian genome projects. Through the development of chicken gene expression arrays, whole genome mapping and application of bioinformatics tools my research is now focussed on the role of the innate immune system in disease resistance in poultry.
CLINICAL RESEARCH CENTRE (MRC): Senior Postdoctoral Scientists (1987-1988)
I was offered a long-term position within the MRC to join the department of molecular genetics (Head: Prof. James Scott, FRS) at the Clinical Research Centre (London). I joined Dr Woo, to examine the molecular regulation of the acute phase response in humans and was responsible for one research technician. We used a model system based on the serum amyloid-A gene family, for which the function in autoimmune disease was also under study in the group. This was a small, productive group but came to an end due to closure of the Clinical Research Centre in the late 1980’s. At this time a principal investigators post became vacant at the Roslin Institute, I applied and joined the Institute.
HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Research Associate (1985-1987)
I joined Dr Dzau’s division of cardiovascular medicine to lead a group (One research technicians and two research fellows) to examine the molecular biology of the renin-angiotensinogen in human and mouse. During this period I worked closely with the physiology group in the division led by Dr Pratt, together we set up a new molecular genetics laboratory. My research involved structural and gene expression studies aimed at discovering the mechanisms of gene control of the human and mouse renin genes. This work led to many scientific publications and participation in international workshops, such as the Gordon Conferences. In addition, by working with Dr Dzau within the Harvard Medical School system I learnt a lot about project management (staff, science and research funding) and the politics of scientific research. This period marked a significant change in my confidence and naturally led onto my ambitions to lead my own group.
ICI/UNIVERSITY OF LEICESTER JOINT LABORATORY: Research Associate (1980-1985)
The ICI (now AstraZeneca)/University of Leicester Joint Laboratory was a research group funded by ICI, initially for five years but was a success and continued for a further three years. I worked within the molecular genetics group, and was responsible for a technician and the occasional honours graduate student. The research was varied and started with a physical mapping project on specific regions of a bacterium (M. methylotrophus) used within ICI as a source of protein. During this time I set up genomic cloning and DNA sequencing techniques in the laboratory. The focus of the laboratory moved onto the study of mammalian (mostly mouse) genes and proteins of pharmaceutical importance. It was during this time that the group made significant advances in the regulation and structure of the renin gene family in the mouse. I made significant contributions to the structure of the mouse renin gene in various strains and the evolution of the aspartyl protease family. This work laid the foundation for my move to Harvard to join Dr Dzau’s team to study the molecular biology of the human renin-angiotensin system.
susceptibility to ascites (Burt-Roslin)
Membership of Professional Bodies:
1988- British Society for Cell Biology
1991- World Poultry Science Association
1992- International Society of Animal Genetics
1993- European Cell Biology Organisation
1995- Human Genome Organisation
2002- Founding member of the International Cytogenetics and Genome Society
2003- International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB)