MRC Human Genetics Unit
Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit

Martin Taylor Research Group

Mutagenesis and its Biomedical Impact


Martin Taylor 2021
Professor Martin Taylor

Research in a Nutshell 

We study why mutations occur where they do and what effect they have when they arise. Genetic mutations are important, they are responsible for inherited disease, drive the development of cancer, allow bacteria and viruses to escape our drugs and immune system, and provide the raw material for evolution. Most of our research spans our three core aims:

 1. Understanding mutational processes. What processes go wrong in our cells to create mutations and how damage to our DNA contributes to this. We are especially interested in the mutations that get inherited from one generation to the next, and those that drive the progression to cancer.

2. Interpreting genetic variation. Revealing which mutations have an important biological effect and which are less important. This helps genetic diagnosis and matching the cancer treatment to the patient. We are increasingly realising that combinations of mutations are important for how cells grow and the development of cancer.    

3. Learning how mutations alter the regulation of our genes. As a community we can work out fairly well when a mutation is likely to alter the function of a protein, we’ve still got a lot to learn about how mutations alter the production of a protein from a gene. Studying the changes through past evolution helps us understand the effect of new mutations of gene regulation.


Group External Website 

Martin Taylor Lab 2023


Professor Martin Taylor Group Leader
Dr Craig Anderson Research Fellow
Susan Campbell Research Assistant
Elizabeth Carmichael PhD student (with Dr Luke Boulter)
James Hayes PhD student
Oscar Jackson PhD student (with Professor Liz Patton)
Jo Mattocks PhD student (with Dr Ailith Ewing)
Dr Michael Nicholson Cross-disciplinary research fellow (XDF)
Lucy Scott

PhD student (with Professor Liz Patton)

Dr Lana Talmane Research Fellow
Jan Verburg PhD student (with Dr Ailith Ewing)
Zicheng Yu (YC) PhD Student (with Professor Andrew Jackson)



  1. Anderson CJ, Talmane L, Luft J, Nicholson MD, Connelly J, Pich O, Campbell S, Sundaram V, Connor F, Ginno PA, Liver Cancer Evolution Consortium, López-Bigas N, Flicek P, Semple CA, Odom DT, Aitken SJ, Taylor MS. Strand-resolved mutagenicity of DNA damage and repair. bioRxiv. 2022. p. 2022.06.10.495644. doi:10.1101/2022.06.10.495644
  2. Reijns MAM, Parry DA, Williams TC, Nadeu F, Hindshaw RL, Rios Szwed DO, Nicholson MD, Carroll P, Boyle S, Royo R, Cornish AJ, Xiang H, Ridout K, Schuh A, Aden K, Palles C, Campo E, Stankovic T, Taylor MS, Jackson AP. Signatures of TOP1 transcription-associated mutagenesis in cancer and germline. Nature. 2022; 1–9. doi:10.1038/s41586-022-04403-y
  3. Young RS, Talmane L, Marion de Proce S, Taylor MS. The contribution of evolutionarily volatile promoters to molecular phenotypes and human trait variation. Genome Biol. 2022.
  4. Aitken SJ, Anderson CJ, Connor F, Pich O, Sundaram V, Feig C, Rayner TF, Lukk M, Aitken S, Luft J, Kentepozidou E, Arnedo-Pac C, Beentjes SV, Davies SE, Drews RM, Ewing A, Kaiser VB, Khamseh A, López-Arribillaga E, Redmond AM, Santoyo-Lopez J, Sentís I, Talmane L, Yates AD, Liver Cancer Evolution Consortium, Semple CA, López-Bigas N, Flicek P, Odom DT, Taylor MS. Pervasive lesion segregation shapes cancer genome evolution. Nature. 2020;583: 265–270. doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2435-1
  5. Reijns MAM, Kemp H, Ding J, de Procé SM, Jackson AP, Taylor MS. Lagging-strand replication shapes the mutational landscape of the genome. Nature. 2015;518: 502–506. doi:10.1038/nature14183

Full publication list can be found on Research Explorer: Martin Taylor — University of Edinburgh Research Explorer


  • Dr Sjoerd Beentjes, University of Edinburgh

  • Dr Luke Boulter, University of Edinburgh

  • Professor Javier Caceres, University of Edinburgh

  • Professor David Fitzpatrick, University of Edinburgh

  • Dr Paul Flicek, EBI, Cambridge

  • Professor Andrew Jackson, University of Edinburgh

  • Dr Ava Khamseh, University of Edinburgh

  • Professor Núria López-Bigas

  • Dr Duncan Odom, DKFZ, Heidelberg

  • Professor Liz Patton, University of Edinburgh

  • Professor Colin Semple, University of Edinburgh

Partners and Funders

  • MRC
  • FANTOM Consortium
  • Scottish Genomes Partnership

Scientific Themes

Understanding mutational processes, Interpretation of genetic variation, The evolution of gene regulation

Technology Expertise

Computational genomics, high performance computing, detection of mutations, molecular phylogenetics, gene expression analysis, measurement of genetic selection, high throughput sequencing technologies and assays.