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Personal profile


Joe Rainger is a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow (Round 2), Roslin Institute Fellow, and a University of Edinburgh ESAT Fellow. His research group aims to understand the complex processes that underly embryonic tissue fusion processes, with particular emphasis on ocular coloboma, but with overlapping interests in broader aspects of vertebrate eye development and the causes of ocular malformations. Joe is based at Roslin Institute, where he came in 2015 after winning a Fight for Sight Early Career Investigator fellowship. Prior to this, Joe trained as a doctoral student and post-doc in the labs of Profs David FitzPatrick and Ian Jackson at the MRC Human Genetics Unit, Edinburgh.

Research Interests

The Rainger group’s research is focused on understanding the genetic, molecular and cell-behavioural aspects that underpin fusion of tissues in the developing retina, and uses chicken embryology as a key experimental model system. Current focus is placed upon revealing specificities of gene transcription at defined stages of tissue fusion, and revealing the regulatory networks that control these transcriptional responses. This is combined with studies of intra- and inter-cellular molecular interactions and dynamic cell behaviours, and exploring the influence of non-genetic factors that may affect tissue fusion. Use is made of transgenic chicken lines from the National Avian Research Facility (NARF, Roslin Institute) and the development of novel transgenic resources to further understanding of tissue fusion mechanisms in the eye and other embryonic regions. Collaborations with clinical paediatricians and ophthalmologists are welcome to support the identification and experimental validation of causative genetic mutations in patients and families affected by a wide range of tissue fusion defects.

Education/Academic qualification

Molecular Genetics, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Award Date: 30 Jun 2009

External positions

Peer review college, UKRI


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  • PhD viva

    Joe Rainger (Examiner)

    21 Feb 2022

    Activity: Examination typesExternal Examiner or Assessor

  • PhD Viva

    Joe Rainger (Examiner)

    31 Aug 2021

    Activity: Examination typesExternal Examiner or Assessor