Edinburgh Research Explorer

Prof Colin Semple

Personal Chair of Computational Biology

Profile photo

Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

Regulatory Genomics
Molecular evolution

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Edinburgh
Maintenance of inversion polymorphism in Drosophila
Bachelor of Science, Edinburgh Napier University
Biological Sciences


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 also a member of the Edinburgh-St Andrews MRC Molecular Pathology Hub, 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 regulatory 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. This can provide new insights into human evolution and help us interpret disease processes with abberant regulation, such as cancers.

Current Research Interests

Regulatory genomics in mammalian evolution and human disease

Research activities & awards

  1. Know your enemy: Unlocking the mysteries of the cancer genome

    Activity: Other activity typesTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Public lecture/debate/seminar

  2. Edinburgh Cafe Scientifique

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Public lecture/debate/seminar

  3. Why I became a scientist

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Schools engagement

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