Edinburgh Research Explorer

Wendy Bickmore

Director of Human Genetics Unit

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Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Edinburgh
Bachelor of Arts, University of Oxford

Biography

Wendy Bickmore is the Director of the MRC Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.  After an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at Oxford, she obtained her PhD at Edinburgh University.  During postdoctoral training, she became fascinated by the structure and organization of chromosomes in the nucleus and as an independent fellow of the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine (1991-1996) she went on to show that different human chromosomes have preferred positions in the nucleus, related to their gene content. As an MRC group leader she then investigated how individual genes are organized and packaged in the nucleus and how they move in the cell cycle and during development. Current research in Wendy Bickmore’s laboratory focuses on how the spatial organization of the nucleus influences genome function in development and disease. Wendy is also co-director of the Edinburgh Super-Resolution Imaging Consortium (ESRIC: https://www.esric.org). Wendy is an EMBO member and a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Academy of Medical Sciences. She is an editor on many journals including PLoS Genetics and Cell.

My research in a nutshell

Despite its immense length, the linear sequence map of the human genome is an incomplete description of our genetic information. This is because information on genome function and gene regulation is also encoded in the way that the DNA sequence is folded up with proteins within chromosomes and within the nucleus. Our work tries to understand the three-dimensional folding of the genome, how this controls genome functions in normal development and how this may be perturbed in disease. We examine how the spatial organisation of the human and mouse genomes is changed, for example, during development and in certain genetic diseases. An important research question for the lab is how enhancers in the the non-coding genome activate their target genes which are often located far away in the linear genome.

We take a multidisciplinary approach, using cytological, genetic, genomic, and molecular methods to understand human and mouse genome organisation. A prominent feature of our work is the use of light microscopy to investigate genome spatial conformation and organisation.  We also use synthetic biology to artifically control the expression or silencing of genes, to test our hypotheses.

 

Highlighted research outputs

  1. DNA Methylation Directs Polycomb-Dependent 3D Genome Re-organization in Naive Pluripotency

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Developmentally regulated Shh expression is robust to TAD perturbations

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Decreased enhancer-promoter proximity accompanying enhancer activation

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Nuclear pore density controls heterochromatin reorganization during senescence

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Histone H3 globular domain acetylation identifies a new class of enhancers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  6. BRD4 interacts with NIPBL and BRD4 is mutated in a Cornelia de Lange-like syndrome

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  7. Shh and ZRS enhancer colocalisation is specific to the zone of polarizing activity

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  8. The E3 ubiquitin ligase activity of Ring1B is not essential for early mouse development

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  9. Chromatin decondensation is sufficient to alter nuclear organization in embryonic stem cells

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  10. Recruitment to the Nuclear Periphery Can Alter Expression of Genes in Human Cells

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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