Colin Semple


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Regulatory Genomics
Molecular evolution

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Personal profile


Since 2001 I have led the Bioinformatics Analysis Core at the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM), one of the largest UK MRC research establishments supporting approximately 500 scientists. We provide computational collaborative expertise to IGMM experimental research groups, and also large research consortia such as the Scottish Genomes Partnership. I am a committee member of the Genetics Society, the EpiGeneSys EU-wide network of excellence in epigenetics and systems biology, various MRC review panels and journal editorial boards. My PhD was in population genetics at the University of Edinburgh (1994), followed by postdoctoral stints at the University of Michigan and Trinity College Dublin exploring the first genome sequences derived from yeast and worms. In 1998 I joined the MRC Human Genetics Unit, studying the initial human genome sequence to understand human disease predisposition. These interests have continued to the present, with a current focus on gene regulation and structural variation in cancers and developmental disorders.

My research in a nutshell

The genes embedded in your genome have complex patterns of activity and particular constellations of genes must be active at particular times for biological processes, such as embryonic development, to conclude successfully. I am interested in the fundamental biology of gene regulation: when, how and why genes are turned on and off. We try to understand the mechanisms underlying gene regulation, using computational analyses of genomic datasets, and how these mechanisms are impacted by alterations in the structure of the genome. This can provide new insights into human evolution and help us interpret disease processes with abberant regulation, such as cancers.

Current Research Interests

Genome structure, mutation and human disease

Cancer genomics and tumour evolution

Population genomics in human isolate populations

Regulatory genomics and mammalian evolution

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 1 Jan 1994

Bachelor of Science, Edinburgh Napier University

Award Date: 1 Jan 1990


  • QH426 Genetics
  • QH301 Biology


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