Professor Chris Ponting

Group Leader


Professor Chris Ponting is Chair of Medical Bioinformatics and a Principal Investigator at the MRC Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Cancer. Chris started his research in particle physics before moving via biophysics to bioinformatics and genomics. Aside from one year at the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NIH, Bethesda, MD), he pursued his research at the University of Oxford before moving to Edinburgh in 2016. His research group has made substantial contributions to protein science, evolutionary biology, genetics and genomics. Early in his career he discovered many important protein domain families. He then provided the first evolutionary analyses for mammalian genomes whilst leading protein analysis teams for the human and mouse genome sequencing projects. More recently, his research established that 8.2% of the human genome is constrained, and thus is likely functional.

Chris has been on Editorial Boards of Genome Research, Genome Biology, Human Molecular Genetics, Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, and Trends in Genetics, and was a Senior Editor of eLife until 2015. He served as Program Committee member for the CSHL Biology of Genomes, American Society of Human Genetics and Genome Science conferences.He was Head of the UK Node of ELIXIR and Chair of EMBL-EBI’s External Training Advisory Group and founded CGAT (, an MRC-funded training centre. Professor Ponting is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation.


  • Bachelor 1986, B.A. (2:1, Hons., physics), University of Oxford, UK

  • Masters 1988, M.Sc. (1, physics), University of British Columbia, Canada
  • Doctoral 1991, Doctor of Philosophy (biophysics), DPhil, University of Oxford