Institute of Genetics and Cancer


Emeritus Professor Ian Jackson retires

Upon his retirement, Ian Jackson has been presented the title of Emeritus Professor in recognition of distinguished academic service at the University of Edinburgh: September 2021

Ian Jackson inaugural lecture

Colleagues across the Unit recently wished Professor Ian Jackson well for his retirement from the University of Edinburgh in April 2021 after stepping down from his role as Head of Disease Mechanisms at the end of September 2020.

Professor Jackson graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in Biochemistry and went on to study for a PhD at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School (now part of Imperial College) under the supervision of Professor Bob Williamson.

His fascinating career led him to Edinburgh in 1986 to what is now the MRC Human Genetics Unit with a 5 year Lister Institute Fellowship. He subsequently became an MRC Senior Scientist and held continuous peer-reviewed MRC funding for the following 29 years, ultimately becoming Section Head.

Much of his work has been on the genetics and developmental biology of melanocytes, where he has made significant discoveries in the genes underlying classical mouse genetic mutations and in the mechanisms by which melanocytes migrate to populate the embryonic skin. In collaboration with Professor Jonathan Rees he identified the human gene in which variation leads to red hair as MC1R (cited almost 200 times). He has played a significant role in the University of Edinburgh and beyond in the use of mice as genetic models.

He was appointed an Honorary Professor in the University of Edinburgh in 2004, Professorial Fellow in 2011 and in 2008 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Professor Jackson has also served on funding panels for BBSRC, CRUK, Wellcome Trust, Department of Health and MRC. He has been, among others, Meetings Secretary of the British Society for Developmental Biology, Vice-President of the Genetics Society, President of the International Mammalian Genome Society and President of the European Society for Pigment Cell Research.

At a small gathering Professor Jackson, a committed supporter of the arts, was presented with a piece of glass art produced by the Edinburgh-based glass artist, David Mola, and inspired by images of his scientific research.

Ian Jackson with David Mola art

Learn more about Professor Jackson’s illustrious career in this recent interview with Helen Nickerson: A conversation with Ian Jackson