Professor Adrian Bird - Associate Faculty

Adrian's research group is interested in the way chemical marking of chromosomes influences genome activity in normal cells and in disease. As a member of Associate Faculty he aims to pursue research projects in collaboration with Sanger scientists, taking advantage of the Institute's strength in large scale genetics and genomics.

Adrian is based in the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, Edinburgh University, where he holds the Buchanan Chair of Genetics. He graduated in Biochemistry from the University of Sussex UK and obtained his PhD at Edinburgh University.

Following postdoctoral experience at the Universities of Yale and Zurich, he joined the Medical Research Council's Mammalian Genome Unit in Edinburgh. In 1987 he moved to Vienna to become a Senior Scientist at the newly-founded Institute for Molecular Pathology.

Adrian's research focuses on the basic biology and biomedical significance of DNA methylation. His research team identified CpG islands as gene markers in the vertebrate genome and discovered proteins that read the DNA methylation signal to influence chromatin stucture. Mutations in one of these proteins, MeCP2, cause the autism spectrum disorder Rett Syndrome.

His team also established a mouse model of Rett Syndrome and showed that the resulting severe neurological phenotype can be cured. Awards include the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine (1999), the Charles-Léopold Mayer Prize of the French Academy of Sciences (2008) and the Gairdner International Award (2011). He was a governor of the Wellcome Trust from 2000-2010 and is currently a trustee of Cancer Research UK.

Selected Publications

  • Cell type-specific DNA methylation at intragenic CpG islands in the immune system.

    Deaton AM, Webb S, Kerr AR, Illingworth RS, Guy J, Andrews R and Bird A

    Genome research 2011;21;7;1074-86

  • Orphan CpG islands identify numerous conserved promoters in the mammalian genome.

    Illingworth RS, Gruenewald-Schneider U, Webb S, Kerr AR, James KD, Turner DJ, Smith C, Harrison DJ, Andrews R and Bird AP

    PLoS genetics 2010;6;9;e1001134

  • CpG islands influence chromatin structure via the CpG-binding protein Cfp1.

    Thomson JP, Skene PJ, Selfridge J, Clouaire T, Guy J, Webb S, Kerr AR, Deaton A, Andrews R, James KD, Turner DJ, Illingworth R and Bird A

    Nature 2010;464;7291;1082-6

  • Neuronal MeCP2 is expressed at near histone-octamer levels and globally alters the chromatin state.

    Skene PJ, Illingworth RS, Webb S, Kerr AR, James KD, Turner DJ, Andrews R and Bird AP

    Molecular cell 2010;37;4;457-68

  • A novel CpG island set identifies tissue-specific methylation at developmental gene loci.

    Illingworth R, Kerr A, Desousa D, Jørgensen H, Ellis P, Stalker J, Jackson D, Clee C, Plumb R, Rogers J, Humphray S, Cox T, Langford C and Bird A

    PLoS biology 2008;6;1;e22

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