MRC Human Genetics Unit
Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit

Duncan Sproul Research Group

Epigenetics in Human Disease

Dr Duncan Sproul - CRUK Career Development Fellow

Section: Genome Regulation

Research in a Nutshell 

Our work focuses on using interdisciplinary approaches to understand the role of epigenetic dysfunction in human disease, particularly cancer. Epigenetic marks signpost the DNA and are believed to help cells switch genes on and off. For example, to ensure that the genes that make haemoglobin are switched on in blood cells but not brain cells. Alterations in the levels of epigenetic marks, are an intrinsic hallmark of many human diseases. However, we do not currently understand the role of epigenetic dysfunction in human disease and how it can be targeted to treat patients.

Our main focus is on understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning the widespread alterations in the distribution of the repressive epigenetic mark DNA methylation observed in cancer. We combine computational analysis of large datasets, mathematical modelling and focused experiments in the laboratory. While we principally work on DNA methylation in cancer, we have also examined DNA methylation in aging and Mendelian disorders in collaboration with other research groups.


Research Programme

Duncan Sproul Research Group


Duncan Sproul Group Leader
Hazel Davidson-Smith Research assistant
Francesca Taglini Postdoctoral scientist

Ross Hannah

PhD student

Lyndsay Kerr

Postdoctoral scientist
Adrian Lee Research assistant
Andreanna Wright PhD student
Christine Rodger PhD student


Partners and Funders

  • Cancer Research UK Career Development Fellowship

Scientific Themes

Epigenetics, DNA methylation, Bioinformatics, Cancer

Technology Expertise

Epigenomics, Genome editing, Machine learning, Bioinformatics