Edinburgh Research Explorer

Prof Kim Summers

Personal Chair of Comparative Genetics

Education / Academic qualification

1976Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Australian National University
Biochemical genetics of eye pigmentation in the Australian Sheep Blowfly, Lucilia cuprina.
1971Bachelor of Science, Australian National University
A biochemical and genetic study of eye pigment mutants of Drosophila melanogaster

Professional Qualifications

1992Postgraduate Diploma of Education, PG Dip Ed
1975Post Graduate Diploma in Human Biology, PG Dip Human Biol

Current Research Interests

Genetics, genomics and transcriptomics of disease in animals and humans

Research Interests

My interest is in the molecular genetics of disease in humans and animals. I have a particular interest in inherited cardiovascular and ocular disease and have worked on the human conditions Marfan syndrome and long QT syndrome for a number of years. Recently I have begun collaborating with veterinary scientists to study canine genetic diseases, including mitral valve disease in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and cardiac arrhythmias in Labrador Retrievers. We are applying techniques of human genetics to the understanding of the inheritance of these conditions in dogs, with the aim to use the information gathered from affected dogs to develop an understanding of parallel conditions in humans. As part of this work we are studying the expression of genes which are critical to the development and functioning of the muscles of the heart and arteries, the skin, bones and adipose tissue. These studies will indicate candidate genes which may be responsible for related genetic diseases in humans and animals.


Kim Summers was educated in Canberra, Australia where she was awarded a BSc (with 1st Class Honours) in 1974 and a PhD in 1979, both in the area of Biochemical Genetics. She also completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Biology at the University of Oxford in 1976 and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education at The University of Queensland in 1992.

Following the completion of her PhD she returned to Oxford as a postdoctoral fellow in Biological Anthropology and subsequently in Genetics. She then took up a research fellowship at the Australian National University in Human Genetics and followed this with further appointments at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, Texas, USA) and The University of Queensland, Australia, using the developing technologies of molecular medicine to understand the genetic basis of disease in humans.

Professor Summers spent six years as Director of Genetic Education with the Queensland Clinical Genetics Service, an experience which provided a strong understanding of the issues facing families with an inherited disease. She is still a regular contributor to newsletters of support groups for genetic conditions and committed to public engagement with science.

Following her appointment at The Roslin Institute she has continued to study the molecular basis of diseases affecting the development of the heart, eyes and bones, using animal conditions with similar clinical signs. She collaborates extensively with clinical colleagues of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

She was also extensively involved in the initiation, development and delivery of the MSc in Animal Biosciences, an innovative taught programme to prepare students for a career in animal research. Recently she has represented the University of Edinburgh in developing the International MSc in Infectious Diseases and One Health, which was awarded funding under the prestigeous Erasmus Mundus scheme of the EU.



Lectures to first and second year R(D)SVS veterinary science students on genetics and animal breeding and molecular genetics.

Director of three courses within the MSc in Animal Biosciences programme


1977-79 Part time demonstrator in biochemistry and genetics, A.N.U.

1980 Part time lecturer in human biology, Oxford Polytechnic.

1980-82 Part time tutor and demonstrator in genetics, Oxford University.

1985-86 Designed and lectured in 3 week course Modern developments in human genetics, A.N.U.

1986 Tutorial sessions with final year high school students on recombinant DNA technology and genetic engineering.

1989-90 Lectured in Population Genetics (ZL323), The University of Queensland.

1990 Lectured in Animal Molecular Genetics (BC305), The University of Queensland.

1992 Completed Diploma of Education, The University of Queensland.

1997-2003 Lessons to high school biology students on Clinical Genetics

1997-99 Lectured in Introduction to Medicine (MD200) Genetic basis of human disease, The University ofQueensland.


1997-2004 Lectures in Advanced human genetics, Clinical genetics and Genetic counselling for Griffith University Diploma in Genetic Counselling


1998-99 Lectures on Developments in clinical genetics in Grad Dip Pharmacy course, The University of Queensland.

1999-2000 Miniworkshop on Ethics in Science for BC317, The University of Queensland

2001-07 Lectures and assignment on Medical ethics and research for BIOL3012, The University of Queensland

2004-07 Lecture series to first year undergraduates in BSc course BIOL1011 Genetics and Evolution, on macromolecules, molecular genetics, population genetics, The University of Queensland.

2004-07 Lecture series to second year undergraduates in BSc course BIOL2009 Molecular Genetics, on DNA structure and function, The University of Queensland. Convenor of course.

2004-07 Lecture series to second year dentistry students on molecular genetics, The University of Queensland.

2005 Lecture series to second year veterinary science students on diseases of aging, The University of Queensland.

2004-07 Designed and presented BIOC6017 Introduction to Molecular Biology Techniques, for graduate coursework program in molecular biology, The University of Queensland. Convenor of course.

2004-08 Designed and presented BIOC7001 Advanced DNA Technology, for graduate coursework program in molecular biology, The University of Queensland. Convenor of course.

Supervisor or co-supervisor of thirteen PhD students; member of fourteen PhD student committees; supervisor for four honours students, one BMedSci student, one MMedSci student, thirty postgraduate course work MMolBiol and MBiotech students (25 to 100% of a semester).

Highlighted research outputs

  1. The challenges of pedigree dog health: approaches to combating inherited disease

    Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

  2. A promoter-level mammalian expression atlas

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Population structure and genetic heterogeneity in popular dog breeds in the UK

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Genome-wide analysis of mitral valve disease in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Recent developments in the diagnosis of Marfan syndrome and related disorders

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  6. Molecular genetics of long QT syndrome

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

View all (124) »

Highlighted research activities & awards

  1. Honorary Professor

    Activity: Awards and AccoladesAppointment

View all (9) »

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