Staff news

Honorary Professor: Veronica van Heyningen

Veronica van Heyningen has been made an Honorary Professor in the School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences.

Veronica ven Heyningen

Professor van Heyningen’s lasting passion for genetics was established while studying under the University of Cambridge Natural Sciences Tripos and during her University of Oxford DPhil.

As a Beit Memorial Fellow, she moved to Edinburgh in 1974 with the aim of using somatic cell hybrids for gene mapping at the MRC Mammalian Genome Unit.

This plan was finally realised following her move in 1977 to what is now the MRC Human Genetics Unit in the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine.

Professor van Heyningen then decided to pursue functional studies following the identification of PAX6 as a key gene for eye development through the study of aniridia.

Subsequent projects began with genetic analysis of human disease, but used model systems to explore key principles, such as control of gene expression by distant regulators, and why genetic disease outcomes are so variable.

This successful integrated strategy has brought Professor van Heyningen recognition through a range of awards and accolades, including:

  • Howard Hughes International Research Scholar (1993-7)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1997)
  • Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (1999)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society (2007)
  • CBE (2010).

Despite retiring in 2012, Professor van Heyningen finds relinquishing science impossible.