MRC Human Genetics Unit
Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit

Wendy Bickmore Research Group

Spatial Organisation of the Human Genome

Professor Wendy Bickmore - Director: MRC Human Genetics Unit

Director: MRC Human Genetics Unit

Section: Genome Regulation

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, and how this controls how our genome functions in normal development and how this may be perturbed in disease. 

We take a multidisciplinary approach, using cytological, genetic, genomic and biochemical methods, as well as animal models, to understand genome spatial organisation and how it contributes to gene regulation. A prominent feature of our work is the use of visual assays to investigate how the genome is folded up. To do this we combine fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) and digital microscopy with the use of automated image analysis software.

We examine the spatial organisation of human and mouse chromosomes and genes in the nucleus and how this organisation is changed, for example, during development and in certain genetic diseases. We use microscopy to follow the folding path of specific gene loci as they are activated or switched off, and to identify the proteins that bring about this folding. We also use the tools of synthetic biology to artificially control the expression or silencing of genes, to test our hypotheses.


Research Programme

Wendy Bickmore research group



Professor Wendy Bickmore

Group Leader
Dr Shipra Bhatia

RSE/CRF Research fellow

Shelagh Boyle Research Assistant 
Anita Mann Research Associate

Ilya M. Flyamer

PhD student (Darwin Trust)
Dr Yatendra Kumar Postdoctoral scientist
Luciana Gomez Acuma  Postdoctoral scientist
Kirsty Uttley PhD student
Lauren Kane PhD student
Naouel Athmane NPIF PhD student

Dr Dipta Sengupta

Newton International Fellow
Dr Iain Williamson  Investigator Scientist
Elias Friman Research Fellow
Alba Gonzalez Estevez Postdoctoral scientist
Grace Alston PhD student
Beth Bartlett PhD student



  • Professor Martin Taylor, University of Edinburgh 

  • Professor Richard Meehan, University of Edinburgh 
  • Professor David FitzPatrick, University of Edinburgh 
  • Professor Josh Brickman, University of Copenhagen

Partners and Funders

  • MRC
  • Wellcome Trust
  • New Life

Scientific Themes

Chromatin structure, gene regulations, enhancers, epigenetics, nuclear organisation.

Technology Expertise

Advanced subcellular imaging, genome and epigenome editing, chromosome conformation capture, chromatin immunoprecipitation.