Dr Bill Skarnes

Bill is project leader of the EU and National Institutes of Health (NIH) high-throughput gene knockout programmes and is exploiting embryonic stem cell technologies to study cell fate decisions in the early mouse embryo.

Bill is a Senior Investigator at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Bill received his BSc and MSc in Microbiology and Immunology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. In 1992, he received his PhD in Molecular and Medical Genetics from the University of Toronto where he pioneered gene trapping technology in mouse embryonic stem (ES cells) in the laboratories of Alex Joyner and Janet Rossant. Gene trapping represents the most efficient method for the generation of reporter-tagged mutations in mammalian cells and this work, first described in 1989, laid the foundation for subsequent large-scale efforts that have created a extensive public resource of mutant ES cells for over half of the genes in mice. During his post-doctoral training in Rosa Beddingtons laboratory at the University of Edinburgh, Bill developed an abiding interest in the mouse embryo and has focused his research on the study of novel genes required for early embryonic development.

In 1997, Bill joined the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley as an Assistant Professor in the department of Molecular and Cell Biology and was designated a Searle Scholar in 1998. At Berkeley, his laboratory continued to develop gene trapping technology and, together with Marc-Tessier Lavigne, demonstrated the value mutant ES cell resources in gene-based, phenotype driven-screens for genes that perturb brain wiring and embryonic development. This approach has been taken up on broader scale by industry and by academia to begin to address the function of all genes in the mammalian genome. In support of this activity, Bill initiated the NIH-funded BayGenomics high-throughput gene trapping programme with colleagues in the Bay Area. This and other public gene trap resources have greatly accelerated the identification of new genes in the mouse that are highly relevant to our understanding of normal human development and disease.

Bill returned to the United Kingdom in 2003 to take up an appointment as a Senior Investigator at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Building on the success of the BayGenomics program, he established the Sanger Institute Gene Trap Resource, providing thousands more gene trap mutant ES cells for the scientific community. Working closely with Allan Bradley, Bill is now project leader of the EU and NIH high-throughput gene knockout programmes that collectively aim to complete a public resource of ES cells harboring mutations in all protein-coding genes. In addition, his laboratory continues to take advantage of ES cell technologies to address the function of genes required for cell-fate specification in the early mouse embryo.

[Wellcome Library, London]

Bill's Project
Mouse Developmental Genetics
Research Area
Mouse & zebrafish genetics
* quick link - http://q.sanger.ac.uk/8oo5gk9i