MRC Human Genetics Unit
Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit

Andrew Jackson Research Group

Growth, Inflammation and the Brain

Professor Andrew Jackson
Professor Andrew Jackson

Section: Disease Mechanisms

Research in a Nutshell 

My research programme identifies new genes for inherited disorders affecting the human brain. We also study how these genes function using cells and model organisms. Aicardi-Goutières syndrome is a genetic condition in which faults in genes encoding enzymes called nucleases, mimic viral infection of the brain. These nucleases may normally clean up naturally produced ‘waste’ DNA and RNA, with failure of this process leading to the body mounting an immune reaction against itself. This immune response mechanism is relevant to common autoimmune diseases such as lupus and so we are studying these enzymes to understand their normal roles in cells and to establish what happens when these enzymes fail. 

Secondly, we are identifying genes that cause extreme growth failure of the brain and body. Individuals with primordial dwarfism are often described as the 'smallest people in the world'. These genes are components of the core cell machinery which controls cell duplication and mutations likely result in fewer cells being made, leading to a smaller person. Identifying these genes will help diagnosis and management of these rare conditions. It may also help us better understand how the body regulates growth, perhaps shedding light into why humans are bigger than mice and how our brains evolved to be so large.

Research Programme

Andrew Jackson group 2018



Professor Andrew Jackson Group Leader
David Parry Postdoctoral Researcher
Paula Carroll Research Support
Gráinne Neary

ECAT-V Clinical Lecturer/PhD student

Martin Reijns

Senior Postdoctoral Researcher

Patricia Heyn

Postdoctoral Researcher

Olga Murina Postdoctoral Researcher
Andrea Robertson

Senior Research Technician and Area Supervisor

Maggie MacDonald Research Coordinator and PA
Thomas Williams

ECAT Clinical Lecturer/PhD student

Carol-Anne Martin Postdoctoral Researcher
Jennie Murray Clinical Research Fellow
Frauke Liebelt Postdoctoral Researcher



  • Professor Martin Taylor, MRC HGU, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Duncan Sproul, MRC HGU, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Andrew Wood, MRC HGU, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr David Hunt, DRI, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Elaine Dzierzak, QMRI, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Tatsiana Auchynnikava, WCB, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Grant Stewart, University of Birmingham
  • Professor Dan Durocher, University of Toronto
  • Professor Ian Hickson, University of Copenhagen
  • Professor Simon Boulton, Crick Institute, London
  • Dr Jan Rehwinkel, WIMM, Oxford
  • Dr Tuncay Baubec, Zurich
  • Professor Kamil Kranc, Queen Marys, London
  • Professor Tatjana Stankovic, Birmingham
  • Dr Mike Bober, Delaware
  • Dr Carol Wise, Dallas
  • Professor Bernd Wollnik, Gottingen
  • Professor Valerie Cormier-Daire, Paris
  • Walking with Giants Foundation, UK
  • Potentials Foundation, USA

Partners and Funders

  • Medical Research Council
  • European Research Council

Scientific Themes

Microcephaly, Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome, Ribonuclease H2, genome stability, inflammation