Edinburgh Research Explorer

Elaine Nimmo

(Former employee or visitor)


After studying Molecular Biology at Glasgow, I worked in bacterial genetics for several years before moving to London to do my PhD at St Mary’s in Human Genetics with Keith Johnston and Bob Williamson. In 1991 I moved to the MRC HGU Edinburgh where I worked on telomeres in S.pombe for the next 11 years before joining Jack Satsangi’s group working on the genetics of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

I am interested in understanding the pathways involved in susceptibility to IBD.  Using a yeast two hybrid screen I identified several proteins that interact with NOD2, the strongest susceptibility gene for Crohn’s disease.  This has allowed us to look at the various pathways in which NOD2 may play a role and has led to a number of grant awards.

Recently the group has developed an interest in epigenetic regulation of gene expression and how this may influence the development of IBD or act as a biomarker for disease.  Genome wide studies of DNA methylation in patients and healthy controls has indicated differences which we are further investigating.

My research in a nutshell

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) encompasses both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and is a common inflammatory condition affecting 1 in 250 people in Scotland. It is thought that both genes and environmental factors (such as diet or smoking) may influence whether or not you develop the disease. Over that last 15 years many of these genes have been identified and one of them is NOD2.  I have taken the NOD2 protein and identified other proteins that stick to it as these other proteins may also be involved in the development of disease. We are studying these other proteins to see what role they play in cells in the gut and to see if they are working properly in cells taken from patients with IBD.

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