Current Lab Members
Professor of Chromatin Biology
“I grew up in London and moved to Edinburgh in 1992 to study Biochemistry at University. To be honest the reason I came to Edinburgh was to go climbing in the Highlands, but the problem with Edinburgh is that you never want to leave!
Most of my training was undertaken in Edinburgh; I did a PhD with Jim Allan in Biochemistry and Austin Smith at the Institute for Stem Cell Research and then did my postdoc training with Wendy Bickmore at the MRC Human Genetics Unit. After that I received a fellowship from the Wellcome Trust to start my own lab and now I have a senior fellowship from the MRC.
I love doing experiments but when I’m not in the lab I like walking/climbing, making things in my workshop and wood carving.”
Senior Post-doctoral Fellow
I am originally from Ballaghaderreen in the west of Ireland but am now almost as long in Edinburgh as I was in Ireland! This is a hard city to leave! I first moved here in 1999 after graduating from University College Dublin with a BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology. As part of the final year project I became very interested in molecular biology and thoroughly enjoyed laboratory research and this influenced my decision to do a PhD. Over the next few years I investigated the relationship between loss or mutation of the tumour suppressor gene Apc and breast cancer and obtained my PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2003.
Since then my research has evolved from broadly investigating transcriptional mechanisms in breast cancer to more focused studies on how chromatin structure influences transcription. I joined Nick’s lab in 2008 and have developed many of the chromatin structural assays in the lab including FISH and biotinylated trimethylpsoralen mapping of DNA supercoiling across the genome. I am now a senior member of Nick’s research team and am currently investigating centromere chromatin structure.
Out of the lab I am kept busy by my two daughters but I always find time to swim.
Honorary Research Fellow
“I consider Dunkeld in Pethshire as my home town as we settled there in 1952 and I still have family in the area. I first came to Edinburgh in 1966 to attend University, obtained a BSc and PhD in Zoology and learnt about DNA. After two years at the University of California in San Diego I moved to the Department of Biophysics at Kings College in London where my interest in chromatin started. I returned to Edinburgh University in 1992 joining the Department of Biochemistry, where I obtained a Readership, before transferring to the Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology.
I was awarded an Honorary Fellowship when I retired in 2011 and this allows me to continue my interest in chromatin. I joined Nick Gilbert’s group at the MRC Human Genetics Unit in 2014.
I enjoy walking, I play golf and snooker and I have been drawing and painting since I decided to go to University instead of Art School.”
I grew up in sunny Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where I completed a BSc. in Clinical Laboratory Sciences at King Saud University. During my undergraduate study I did an internship at Prof. Vincent Dion’s lab where I investigated the role of the NuRD complex in trinucleotide repeat instability as a model to understand the connection between chromatin structure and DNA repair mechanisms and have since been fascinated by chromatin.
I first joined the Gilbert lab in 2017 to complete a MSc by research where I worked on developing a novel in-vitro method to study chromatin structure. I now joined the PhD program where I will be employing biophysical and molecular methods to understand the effect of DNA sequence and nucleosome binding affinity on higher-order chromatin folding.
Outside the lab I like making art, digging for interesting music and enjoying nature.
I grew up here in Edinburgh and was keen to stay in the city for my studies so was excited to be accepted into the University of Edinburgh for my undergraduate degree. I actually began my studies in a Geology degree but after thoroughly enjoying my outside biological courses I moved on to a Genetics degree.
I originally began working in Nick Gilbert’s lab in 2017 as an Honours student looking at changes in large-scale chromatin structure after changing the transcriptional state of genes. I am now a PhD student and have continued my research into chromatin structure with additional focus on the mechanisms behind chromatin decompaction upon gene activation.
I love listening to music so in my spare time go to gigs and festivals whenever I can, as well as play video games.
I grew up in Leicester (yes, the Midlands does exist) and did my BSc in Natural Sciences at Durham University. I undertook a summer placement at the University of Leicester where I studied real time transcription initiation using single molecule imaging. I joined the IGMM in 2017 as a rotation PhD student, and decided to stay in the Gilbert after that where I will be investigating the properties of SAF-A and its role in chromatin organisation using super resolution imaging. In my spare time I liked to travel, game and watch horror films.
Post-Doctoral Research Assistant
I grew up in Italy near Venice and was trained as theoretical physicists in Padova. I moved to the University of Warwick in 2011 for a DTC in Complexity Science and then started my PhD on “Topological Interactions in Ring Polymers” in 2012. For my PhD reserach I was awarded the Springer “Outstanding Thesis Prize” and the Institute of Physics “Ian Macmillan Ward Prize” from the polymer physics group.
I am currently part of Prof. Marenduzzo’s group in the School of Physics and Astronomy and recently started to collaborate with Prof. Gilbert’s lab to understand genome organisation from a polymer physics perspective.
I spend my spare time with my family, either hiking in the highlands, walking around Edinburgh or rock climbing.
Cross-Disciplinary Post-Doctoral Fellow (XDF)
I grew up in Vicenza, a city in the northeast of Italy. I got both my BSc and MSc in Physics at the University of Padova, where I focused my interest in Theoretical and Computational Soft Matter Physics. I then moved to Trieste where I obtained the Ph.D. title in Physics and Chemistry of Biological Systems at SISSA. During that period, I mainly worked on the characterisation of knots properties in biomolecules through the application of statistical mechanics method and the development of coarse-grained models. I have recently been hired as Cross-Disciplinary Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Edinburgh to take on problems in biomedical research. Here, I am currently focusing my research interests in chromatin organisation and I am rotating in different laboratories to complement my computational background with biological and medical knowledge. In my spare time I like to go for a beer (or two) with friends, I love playing videogames and watching tv series.
I grew up in Burgas, Bulgaria - just an hour away from Sunny Beach. After having enough of beaches and a nice warm weather, I enrolled at The University of Manchester for a BSc in Biotechnology. There, I had a summer project in Prof. Dave Thornton’s group which involved the characterization of FCGBP protein in Xenopus tropicalis. I also had a placement year further up north at Randox Laboratories in Antrim, Northern Ireland, where I successfully purified a MBP-tagged protease for use in the lab. My final year project involved more protein purification to characterize the Mycobacterium tuberculosis cytochrome CYP138 in Prof. Andrew Munro’s group.
For my PhD I decided to go live even further up north in the gorgeous city of Edinburgh. After three rotations in the MRC Human Genetics Unit, I decided to join the Gilbert group to look at chromatin dynamics at mitotic exit.
In my free time I enjoy making things (baking, drawing, figurines), playing (keyboard, video games) and practicing Bulgarian folk dancing
I grew up in Suzhou, China, a city near Shanghai. I came to Edinburgh to study biological sciences and later decided to specialise in Genetics. I love the city for its international environment and friendly people and now it becomes my second home.
I first joined the Gilbert lab as a summer student to look at how gene expression states affect large-scale chromatin structures and I later helped look at the roles of SAF-A proteins in the regulation of the chromatin structure. Now I am back to do my honours project continuing the research on the relationship between gene expression and chromatin structures.
When I am free, I like spending time with my family and travelling around to explore different cultures and food. I enjoy doing yoga and I recently started to learn dancing tango.
Past Lab Members
Current position: Group Leader
I grew up in Tokyo, Japan. I started chromatin study in the Dr. Obuse’s lab, Hokkaido University in 2006. I continued research in the Dr. Obuse’s lab for my Master thesis (2007-2008) and Doctoral thesis (2009-2010). After gaining a PhD from Hokkaido University in 2010, I performed 2 years of postdoctoral research with Dr. Obuse, during which the research objective was to understand the maintenance and regulation of heterochromatin. I focused on functional analysis of HP1 (heterochromatin protein 1) and HP1 binding proteins.
I joined the Gilbert lab in 2013 and started to understand molecular mechanisms responsible for regulating large-scale chromatin structure. I found SAF-A protein regulates interphase large-scale chromatin structure though oligomerisation with chromatin-associated RNAs. Now I am investigating “chromatin-mesh” forms by SAF-A oligomer and chromatin-associated RNAs.
In my spare time, I started to go to the gym to get in shape!
Clarissa K L Ng
Current position: Post-doctoral Fellow
Born in Hong Kong in 1981 and moved to sunny Sydney, Australia at the age of 11, Clarissa completed her B.Sc. with honours in Chemistry in 2002, followed by a M.Sc. by research in 2005 (novel antifungal agents, under the supervision of Prof. Katrina Jolliffe and Dr. Fred Widmer) at the School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney. She then moved to the Faculty of Pharmacy of USYD, where she obtained her PhD working on novel conformationally restricted GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) analogues under the supervision of A/Prof. Jane Hanrahan and Prof. Mary Collins (Chebib).
Clarissa spent 9 exciting months in the far flung city of Copenhagen, Denmark in 2006/07 for part of her PhD research, working on imidazole acetic acid analogues of GABA under the supervision of A/Prof. Bente Frølund at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. After graduating from her PhD in 2010, she carried out some independent voluntary research on the design and synthesis of novel bicyclic analogues loosely based on Zolpidem at the Faculty of Pharmacy, USYD. For a short time between 2011 and 2012, Clarissa joined the LifeScience section of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) as a synthetic/medicinal chemist.
She began her postdoc position in November 2012 with the Gilbert Group, working in close collaboration with the Bradley Group at the School of Chemistry, where she is currently based, on the design and synthesis of novel, photoactivatable DNA-DNA and DNA-protein crosslinkers for studying the chromatin fibre structure, and as novel photodynamic therapy agents.
In her spare time, Clarissa enjoys travelling, running, swimming, going to the gym, meeting with friends, playing the violin, going to concerts, reading, languages, cooking, baking… and too many others to be listed here.
Current position: Post-doctoral Fellow
I was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1987. In 2005, I moved across the continent to pursue a BSc in Human Genetics at the University of Nottingham. After graduating, I worked as a research assistant in Tim Vyse’s group in King’s College London before joining a four- year PhD programme at the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh in 2012. The rotational phase of the programme gave me the chance to explore new research themes and I chose to join the Gilbert lab to work on a project linking chromatin structure to chromosomal fragile sites. I completed my PhD in 2016 but continued my stay in the Gilbert lab as a post-doc.
My research interests are focused on the relationship between chromatin structure, DNA replication timing and genome stability. My project investigates the effect of replication stress on replication timing and chromatin structure at common fragile sites and other genomic locations.
In my spare time, I enjoy hula-hooping, swimming in the welcoming waters of the North Sea and reading.
Current position: PhD Student
“Originally I’m from the Wirral, a paradise peninsula just south of Liverpool. I completed my undergraduate Genetics degree at the University of Liverpool, during which my final year project primarily focused on the Fanconi anemia DNA damage repair pathway. I also spent a placement year working with GSK investigating novel biomarkers in virally-associated COPD.
I’m currently working towards my PhD with both the Gilbert and Adams labs at the IGMM where I am exploring an exciting fusion of meiotic recombination and chromatin structure.
When out of the lab I enjoy a healthy blend of travelling, gigs and ticking off an ever-extending list of new restaurants and bars.”
Current position: PhD Student
“I grew up in Brighton and studied Natural Sciences at Lancaster University. Originally I wanted to be a paeleontologist, but I found my true calling after I did a Masters in Genetic Manipulation and Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Sussex!
I joined Nick’s lab in March 2016 as part of the HGU four-year PhD programme and I’m focussing on investigating the chromatin structure of common fragile sites in the human genome.
When I’m not in the lab I love cooking and experimenting with new food, reading stacks of books and exploring Edinburgh.”
Current position: PhD Student
I grew up on Teesside in the north-east of England, and studied Biomedical Sciences at Newcastle University. I graduated with an undergraduate Masters in 2014, and subsequently moved to Edinburgh and joined the Gilbert Lab on the IGMM three-year PhD programme. My research focuses on the role of DNA sequence on chromatin structure and dynamics. I am also interested in Science Poicy, and spent three months on an RCUK Policy Internship in the House of Commons. When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy Scottish Country dancing, travelling and hiking
Current position: PhD Student
“I spent my childhood in Surrey and then Hertfordshire, before heading to newcastle in 2008 where I attained a Bsc in Applied Biology. My research project there focused on superoxide dismutase isoform expression during drought in Arabidopsis thaliana.
In 2012 I joined the IGMM four year Phd program, spending time in different labs on short projects, broadening my research experience. I joined Professor Nick Gilbert’s group in 2014, and I am currently working on the role of EzH2 and Brd proteins in cancer drug resistance.
Out of the lab, I enjoy staying active with cycling and dabble in ski racing. I also enjoy playing the violin and french horn and singing on occasion in a choir.”
Current position: Lab Manager
I originally grew up in the UK in Cheshire and then moved to Surrey. I studied at the University of Sheffield where I graduated with a BSc in Biomedical science in 2006. I then went on to work as a research technician in the laboratory of Dr Vincent Cunliffe on the role of Histone Deacetylases proteins in zebrafish neurogenesis at Sheffield University Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics.
This was followed by a Masters by research at the University of Edinburgh in the MRC Human Genetics Unit (HGU). I then continued my studies at HGU and completed my Phd in 2014 in the laboratory of Professor Veronica van Heyningen supervised by Dr Dirk A Kleinjan. My project focused on studying transcriptional regulation and was focused on the important developmental regulator and human disease gene Pax6. I now work as Post-doctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Professor Nick Gilbert at the University Of Edinburgh Institute Of Genetic and Molecular Medicine (IGMM), and my main research focus are the interplay between transcriptional regulation and 3D chromatin structure across multiple different genomic scales.
In the Gilbert lab I have continued to develop the Pax6 locus as a model for understanding 3D chromatin structure and function, as it’s one of a growing group of well-studied model loci, and has one of the largest number of known cis-regulatory elements controlling its tissue specific expression. This has led us to functionally characterise novel human and mouse Pax6 pancreatic cis-regulatory elements using approaches including ChIP, reporter transgenics and synthetic transcription factor recruitment (Buckle et al 2018, https://doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddy255). Using our model system we have further characterised the cis-regulatory structure and locus architecture of the wider Pax6 locus in multiple expression states, using a combination of RNA-seq, ATAC-seq and ChIP for multiple regulatory marks and structural elements. In collaboration with Dr Chris Brackley and Dr Davide Marenduzzo at the University of Edinburgh School of Physics and Astronomy, we have used this data to develop and test new polymer modelling approaches to describe and predict the 3D locus structure ¬of the complex Pax6 using only 2D regulatory information. Using a combination of capture-C (a high resolution chromosome conformation capture and sequencing method) and 3D FISH to study the structure of the Pax6 locus, we now show our new polymer model is predictive of different regulatory states of the complexly regulated Pax6 locus. Building on my expertise in 3C techniques and Next-generation sequencing methodologies to study chromatin, I am now studding new aspects of chromatin structure and function across the genome including at the centromere and exploring new properties of DNA supercoiling.
Myself, Catherine and Nick now teach on the Wellcome Trust Chromatin Structure and Function Course, an intensive annual residential advanced training course held at the Wellcome Genome Campus. This is a popular laboratory- and computer-based course which provides training in experimental and computational approaches that can be used to mechanistically dissect important aspects of chromatin biology at the gene and genome-wide levels. This includes technical training in ChIP-seq, Me-DIP, and ATAC-seq methodologies and the associated analysis. Our practical and theory based module for the course is on methodologists to study chromatin structure and function, with a focus on chromatin looping and nuclear organisation and is based on Chromosome Conformation Capture approaches (3C, Capture-C, HiC) and the use of fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH).
In my spare time I enjoy exploring the Scottish landscape and am a keen rock climber, hill walker, mountain biker and photographer.
Current position: Post-doctoral Fellow
Covi comes from Gijón, a nice but rainy city in the north coast of Spain. She studied Biology at the University of Oviedo and got the Master Degree at the Institute of Oncology of Asturias, where she completed her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Mario F. Fraga and Dr. Agustín F. Fernández. Her main focus was to identify epigenetic mechanisms involved in aberrant genomic DNA methylation during malignant transformation.
Covi joined Nick’s group as postdoctoral fellow in 2014. She was working to provide a better understanding of the relationship between DNA supercoiling and gene transcription using neocentromeres as experimental model.
When not in the lab, Covi loves doing crafts in general, but since she arrived to Edinburgh, knitting scarfs to stand the cold winters is on top of the list. She also enjoys meeting her friends and family, travelling, walking, and a little bit of reading and/or pilates to relax.
Current position: Post-doctoral fellow
Sam was born in 1987 in Morecambe, a town close to the hills of the Lake District. He completed his BSc in Biology at the University of Sheffield in 2008 before moving to Edinburgh for his postgraduate studies.
At the IGMM he completed an MSc by Research and then joined the Gilbert lab for his PhD in September 2009. His project aims to understand DNA supercoiling at human gene promoters.
In his spare time, Sam enjoys rock climbing, surfing, hiking and mountain biking.
María Arnedo Muñoz
Current position: Post-doctoral Fellow
María Arnedo Muñoz moved back to Spain at Christmas 2015, and is currently job hunting.
María was born in Grávalos (La Rioja, Spain) in 1982 but she grew up in Zaragoza (Spain). She started her university studies in Chemistry in 2000 and then switched to Biochemistry. She completed her BSc in Biochemistry at the University of Zaragoza in 2005.
She joined the Pharmacology and Physiology Department to undertake postgraduate studies in “Biomedicine” at the Medicine School. She joined Dr Pie’s group and the main goal of her research was to understand the underlying mechanism of the illness. She investigated two unrelated human genetic disease, the 3-hydorxy-3-methylglutaric aciduria and the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. She obtained her PhD titled “Subcellular and tissue characterization of the novel isoenzyme HMG-CoA Lyase Like1” in 2011.
For her post-doctoral studies she joined to Prof Nick Gilbert group in 2013. The aim of her project is to relate differences in the DNA topology with a different gene expression pattern in several cell lines and phases of the cell cycle, and look for differences in the DNA supercoiling in Cornelia de Lange Syndrome patients.
In her spare time María loves reading, dancing and walking.
Current position: Associate Professor, Federal University of Uberlandia, Brazil
Alberto Moraes moved in 2008 to a post as Assistant Professor at the Federal University of Uberlandia, Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Brazil.
Alberto was born in Brazil, and is Bachelor in Biomedical Sciences (2001) by the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Masters (2004), and PhD (2008) in Cell and Structural Biology by the University of Campinas, both Brazilian Institutions.
In 2007, during his PhD, he spent four months in Nick Gilbert’s lab in Cancer Research Centre, where he conducted experiments with epigenetics and changes in chromatin organization induced by ageing in mouse hepatocytes. In 2008 he was hired as assistant professor at the Federal University of Uberlandia, Brazil, where he started its own research group.
Nowadays, as associate professor, Alberto has been working with the relationship between ageing and other pro-ageing conditions like diabetes, and chromatin structure, nuclear organization, and epigenetic markers. Ongoing projects include “Nutritional supplementation as an anti-ageing approach: influences on cognitive parameters and associated changes in chromatin structure and epigenetic markers in mouse brain”, “Influences of diabetes types I and II on chromatin organization and epigenetic control of human PBMCs”, “Histone glycosylation as an epigenetic marker in mouse cells, and its association with the ageing process”, and “Changes in chromatin organization and the onset of senescence markers in primary cultures of mouse astrocytes following increasing PDL”.
Current position: PhD Student
I was born in Poland and grew up in the Netherlands where I completed my undergraduate degree. I joined the Gilbert lab as a visiting student from Utrecht University for a graduate internship. My project revolves around constructing plasmids containing transcription activator like (TAL) effectors in order to induce expression changes in large genes of interest. The results can hopefully contribute to the investigation of the effect of transcription changes on replication timing. In my spare time I like to travel and stay active, either running, hiking or rock climbing
Chromatin Group Photos
Chromatin Lab Celebrating SAF-A Paper, 2017
Chromatin Lab Retreat 2017
Chromatin Lab Playing Skittles, 2016
Chromatin Lab Retreat 2014
Chromatin Lab Retreat 2013