Dr Ewan Birney - Associate Faculty

Ewan Birney's group is using genomic data to study basic biological processes in human tissue and Medaka fish, including the effects of genetics on the size and shape of the skeleton, the presence and development of heart problems, and the effects of the genome's structure on whole organisms and individual cells.

Dr Ewan Birney is an Associate Director at EMBL-EBI (European Molecular Biology Laboratory-European Bioinformatics Institute) with a strategic brief across Bioinformatics Services. Ewan also has a small, active research group at the EBI, and it is via the work of this team that he became a formal member of Associate Faculty of the Sanger Institute in 2012.

Ewan graduated with a degree in Biochemistry from Oxford University in 1996, and received his PhD from the University of Cambridge working at the then Sanger Centre (now Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute) to develop algorithms for understanding genomes. He then became a Team Leader (Faculty) at the neighbouring EBI in 2000 where he has worked ever since. At the EBI Ewan was a co-founder of the Ensembl project to annotate the human genome, and has continued to have a strategic role in defining and delivering EBI services, in particular in the DNA area.

In 2003 Ewan was awarded the inaugural Francis Crick Lecture by the Royal Society. In 2005 Ewan was awarded the Chris Overton Prize and the Benjamin Franklin Award.

Ewan's research has focused in three areas:

  • algorithmic research into understanding genomic sequences
  • high-throughput data discovery projects on genomic function
  • using genetic variation to understand basic biological processes.

Algorithmic developments from his group have included multiple alignment programs (PECAN), assembly programs (Velvet) and compression methods (CRAM). Data discovery projects are associated mainly with a molecular understanding of non-coding DNA, in particular the ENCODE projects. For the genetic variation projects, the Birney group has published some initial studies using high-throughput chromatin technologies, and future projects include further work on human cell lines and model organism panels, in particular the Japanese Rice Paddy fish, Medaka.

Selected Publications

  • Mouse genomic variation and its effect on phenotypes and gene regulation.

    Keane TM, Goodstadt L, Danecek P, White MA, Wong K, Yalcin B, Heger A, Agam A, Slater G, Goodson M, Furlotte NA, Eskin E, Nellåker C, Whitley H, Cleak J, Janowitz D, Hernandez-Pliego P, Edwards A, Belgard TG, Oliver PL, McIntyre RE, Bhomra A, Nicod J, Gan X, Yuan W, van der Weyden L, Steward CA, Bala S, Stalker J, Mott R, Durbin R, Jackson IJ, Czechanski A, Guerra-Assunção JA, Donahue LR, Reinholdt LG, Payseur BA, Ponting CP, Birney E, Flint J and Adams DJ

    Nature 2011;477;7364;289-94

  • Heritable individual-specific and allele-specific chromatin signatures in humans.

    McDaniell R, Lee BK, Song L, Liu Z, Boyle AP, Erdos MR, Scott LJ, Morken MA, Kucera KS, Battenhouse A, Keefe D, Collins FS, Willard HF, Lieb JD, Furey TS, Crawford GE, Iyer VR and Birney E

    Science (New York, N.Y.) 2010;328;5975;235-9

  • Velvet: algorithms for de novo short read assembly using de Bruijn graphs.

    Zerbino DR and Birney E

    Genome research 2008;18;5;821-9

  • Identification and analysis of functional elements in 1% of the human genome by the ENCODE pilot project.

    ENCODE Project Consortium, Birney E, Stamatoyannopoulos JA, Dutta A, Guigó R, Gingeras TR, Margulies EH, Weng Z, Snyder M, Dermitzakis ET, Thurman RE, Kuehn MS, Taylor CM, Neph S, Koch CM, Asthana S, Malhotra A, Adzhubei I, Greenbaum JA, Andrews RM, Flicek P, Boyle PJ, Cao H, Carter NP, Clelland GK, Davis S, Day N, Dhami P, Dillon SC, Dorschner MO, Fiegler H, Giresi PG, Goldy J, Hawrylycz M, Haydock A, Humbert R, James KD, Johnson BE, Johnson EM, Frum TT, Rosenzweig ER, Karnani N, Lee K, Lefebvre GC, Navas PA, Neri F, Parker SC, Sabo PJ, Sandstrom R, Shafer A, Vetrie D, Weaver M, Wilcox S, Yu M, Collins FS, Dekker J, Lieb JD, Tullius TD, Crawford GE, Sunyaev S, Noble WS, Dunham I, Denoeud F, Reymond A, Kapranov P, Rozowsky J, Zheng D, Castelo R, Frankish A, Harrow J, Ghosh S, Sandelin A, Hofacker IL, Baertsch R, Keefe D, Dike S, Cheng J, Hirsch HA, Sekinger EA, Lagarde J, Abril JF, Shahab A, Flamm C, Fried C, Hackermüller J, Hertel J, Lindemeyer M, Missal K, Tanzer A, Washietl S, Korbel J, Emanuelsson O, Pedersen JS, Holroyd N, Taylor R, Swarbreck D, Matthews N, Dickson MC, Thomas DJ, Weirauch MT, Gilbert J, Drenkow J, Bell I, Zhao X, Srinivasan KG, Sung WK, Ooi HS, Chiu KP, Foissac S, Alioto T, Brent M, Pachter L, Tress ML, Valencia A, Choo SW, Choo CY, Ucla C, Manzano C, Wyss C, Cheung E, Clark TG, Brown JB, Ganesh M, Patel S, Tammana H, Chrast J, Henrichsen CN, Kai C, Kawai J, Nagalakshmi U, Wu J, Lian Z, Lian J, Newburger P, Zhang X, Bickel P, Mattick JS, Carninci P, Hayashizaki Y, Weissman S, Hubbard T, Myers RM, Rogers J, Stadler PF, Lowe TM, Wei CL, Ruan Y, Struhl K, Gerstein M, Antonarakis SE, Fu Y, Green ED, Karaöz U, Siepel A, Taylor J, Liefer LA, Wetterstrand KA, Good PJ, Feingold EA, Guyer MS, Cooper GM, Asimenos G, Dewey CN, Hou M, Nikolaev S, Montoya-Burgos JI, Löytynoja A, Whelan S, Pardi F, Massingham T, Huang H, Zhang NR, Holmes I, Mullikin JC, Ureta-Vidal A, Paten B, Seringhaus M, Church D, Rosenbloom K, Kent WJ, Stone EA, NISC Comparative Sequencing Program, Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center, Washington University Genome Sequencing Center, Broad Institute, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Batzoglou S, Goldman N, Hardison RC, Haussler D, Miller W, Sidow A, Trinklein ND, Zhang ZD, Barrera L, Stuart R, King DC, Ameur A, Enroth S, Bieda MC, Kim J, Bhinge AA, Jiang N, Liu J, Yao F, Vega VB, Lee CW, Ng P, Shahab A, Yang A, Moqtaderi Z, Zhu Z, Xu X, Squazzo S, Oberley MJ, Inman D, Singer MA, Richmond TA, Munn KJ, Rada-Iglesias A, Wallerman O, Komorowski J, Fowler JC, Couttet P, Bruce AW, Dovey OM, Ellis PD, Langford CF, Nix DA, Euskirchen G, Hartman S, Urban AE, Kraus P, Van Calcar S, Heintzman N, Kim TH, Wang K, Qu C, Hon G, Luna R, Glass CK, Rosenfeld MG, Aldred SF, Cooper SJ, Halees A, Lin JM, Shulha HP, Zhang X, Xu M, Haidar JN, Yu Y, Ruan Y, Iyer VR, Green RD, Wadelius C, Farnham PJ, Ren B, Harte RA, Hinrichs AS, Trumbower H, Clawson H, Hillman-Jackson J, Zweig AS, Smith K, Thakkapallayil A, Barber G, Kuhn RM, Karolchik D, Armengol L, Bird CP, de Bakker PI, Kern AD, Lopez-Bigas N, Martin JD, Stranger BE, Woodroffe A, Davydov E, Dimas A, Eyras E, Hallgrímsdóttir IB, Huppert J, Zody MC, Abecasis GR, Estivill X, Bouffard GG, Guan X, Hansen NF, Idol JR, Maduro VV, Maskeri B, McDowell JC, Park M, Thomas PJ, Young AC, Blakesley RW, Muzny DM, Sodergren E, Wheeler DA, Worley KC, Jiang H, Weinstock GM, Gibbs RA, Graves T, Fulton R, Mardis ER, Wilson RK, Clamp M, Cuff J, Gnerre S, Jaffe DB, Chang JL, Lindblad-Toh K, Lander ES, Koriabine M, Nefedov M, Osoegawa K, Yoshinaga Y, Zhu B and de Jong PJ

    Nature 2007;447;7146;799-816

  • Initial sequencing and comparative analysis of the mouse genome.

    Mouse Genome Sequencing Consortium, Waterston RH, Lindblad-Toh K, Birney E, Rogers J, Abril JF, Agarwal P, Agarwala R, Ainscough R, Alexandersson M, An P, Antonarakis SE, Attwood J, Baertsch R, Bailey J, Barlow K, Beck S, Berry E, Birren B, Bloom T, Bork P, Botcherby M, Bray N, Brent MR, Brown DG, Brown SD, Bult C, Burton J, Butler J, Campbell RD, Carninci P, Cawley S, Chiaromonte F, Chinwalla AT, Church DM, Clamp M, Clee C, Collins FS, Cook LL, Copley RR, Coulson A, Couronne O, Cuff J, Curwen V, Cutts T, Daly M, David R, Davies J, Delehaunty KD, Deri J, Dermitzakis ET, Dewey C, Dickens NJ, Diekhans M, Dodge S, Dubchak I, Dunn DM, Eddy SR, Elnitski L, Emes RD, Eswara P, Eyras E, Felsenfeld A, Fewell GA, Flicek P, Foley K, Frankel WN, Fulton LA, Fulton RS, Furey TS, Gage D, Gibbs RA, Glusman G, Gnerre S, Goldman N, Goodstadt L, Grafham D, Graves TA, Green ED, Gregory S, Guigó R, Guyer M, Hardison RC, Haussler D, Hayashizaki Y, Hillier LW, Hinrichs A, Hlavina W, Holzer T, Hsu F, Hua A, Hubbard T, Hunt A, Jackson I, Jaffe DB, Johnson LS, Jones M, Jones TA, Joy A, Kamal M, Karlsson EK, Karolchik D, Kasprzyk A, Kawai J, Keibler E, Kells C, Kent WJ, Kirby A, Kolbe DL, Korf I, Kucherlapati RS, Kulbokas EJ, Kulp D, Landers T, Leger JP, Leonard S, Letunic I, Levine R, Li J, Li M, Lloyd C, Lucas S, Ma B, Maglott DR, Mardis ER, Matthews L, Mauceli E, Mayer JH, McCarthy M, McCombie WR, McLaren S, McLay K, McPherson JD, Meldrim J, Meredith B, Mesirov JP, Miller W, Miner TL, Mongin E, Montgomery KT, Morgan M, Mott R, Mullikin JC, Muzny DM, Nash WE, Nelson JO, Nhan MN, Nicol R, Ning Z, Nusbaum C, O'Connor MJ, Okazaki Y, Oliver K, Overton-Larty E, Pachter L, Parra G, Pepin KH, Peterson J, Pevzner P, Plumb R, Pohl CS, Poliakov A, Ponce TC, Ponting CP, Potter S, Quail M, Reymond A, Roe BA, Roskin KM, Rubin EM, Rust AG, Santos R, Sapojnikov V, Schultz B, Schultz J, Schwartz MS, Schwartz S, Scott C, Seaman S, Searle S, Sharpe T, Sheridan A, Shownkeen R, Sims S, Singer JB, Slater G, Smit A, Smith DR, Spencer B, Stabenau A, Stange-Thomann N, Sugnet C, Suyama M, Tesler G, Thompson J, Torrents D, Trevaskis E, Tromp J, Ucla C, Ureta-Vidal A, Vinson JP, Von Niederhausern AC, Wade CM, Wall M, Weber RJ, Weiss RB, Wendl MC, West AP, Wetterstrand K, Wheeler R, Whelan S, Wierzbowski J, Willey D, Williams S, Wilson RK, Winter E, Worley KC, Wyman D, Yang S, Yang SP, Zdobnov EM, Zody MC and Lander ES

    Nature 2002;420;6915;520-62

* quick link - http://q.sanger.ac.uk/jy76y50a