MRC Human Genetics Unit
Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit

Professor Wendy Bickmore

MRC Human Genetics Unit Director 2015 - present

W.Bickmore portrait
Professor Wendy Bickmore FRS FRSE FMedSci

Professor Wendy Bickmore became Director of the MRC Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh in 2015. Prior to this, as a Section Head within the Unit, she expanded the MRC HGU’s research portfolio by recruiting new groups in the areas of genome organisation, epigenetics and RNA biology. She was also instrumental in advancing the imaging capabilities at the Unit, including co-founding the Edinburgh Super-resolution Imaging Consortium.

She obtained an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from University of Oxford and her PhD from the University of Edinburgh. 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 from 1991-1996 she went on to show that different human chromosomes have preferred positions in the nucleus, related to their gene content. In 1999 Wendy Bickmore was one of 10 young scientists awarded the $1 million James S. McDonnell Centennial Fellowship. As a tenured MRC scientist she then investigated how individual genes are organized and packaged in the nucleus and how they move in the cell cycle and during development. A key feature of her work is the use of visual assays to investigate the folding path of specific genes as they are switched on and off, and to identify the proteins that bring about this folding. Her research is helping to elucidate how DNA, chromosomes and specific genes are organized and packaged in the cell’s nucleus, how this process is regulated during development to facilitate the expression of genes, and how aberrant genome organization is linked to disease.

Professor Bickmore received the Tenovus Medal in 2005, is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization and a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the Academy of Medical Sciences. Professor Bickmore has also been recognised for her efforts to communicate of science to young people, receiving the Royal Society of Edinburgh Inspiration Award in 2007. She has serves on multiple scientific advisory boards including that of the Centre for Chromosome Biology, Galway, Ireland, the Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford and MRC Harwell. In addition she has served on multiple review committees including the EMBO Science and Society Committee member (2005-2008, as Chair of EMBO Science and Society Committee (2008-2010), the Lister Institute Scientific Advisory Committee (2009 – 2014) and as the Chair of the Wellcome Trust: Molecular Basis of Cell Function Expert Review Group (2014 ).

W.Bickmore lecture

In 2015 she became President of The Genetics Society. She serves as editor on journals including PLoS Genetics and Cell.