David Melton

Chair in Somatic Cell Genetics

  • Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre
  • MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine

Contact details



Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre
MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine
The University of Edinburgh
Western General Hospital
Crewe Road South

Post code


David graduated with a First Class BA Honours Degree in Genetics from the University of Cambridge in 1977. He then went on to obtain a MA Degree also at the University of Cambridge in 1980. David’s interest in DNA repair and his passion for cultured mammalian cells started during his PhD in Bob Johnson’s lab in Cambridge on the classic somatic cell genetics locus, hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT). During his postdoc with Tom Caskey at Baylor the HPRT gene was cloned from a gene-amplified cell line that he isolated. On his return to the UK, David became a Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh where he conducted the first gene expression studies on an X-chromosome linked housekeeping gene. His HPRT work led him into a collaboration with Martin Hooper which culminated in the first demonstration that mice with a specific gene-targeted alteration could be produced from cultured embryonic stem cells.

For this early work he was awarded the 1990 Biochemical Society Colworth Medal (Award to best young biochemist in UK).

This led to a change in research focus and he then developed and used gene targeting techniques based on HPRT selection to generate and study a number of mouse models for human disorders, concentrating on the DNA repair deficiency and skin cancer susceptibility disease xeroderma pigmentosum. In 1998 he became a Professor of Somatic Cell Genetics, at the University of Edinburgh and in 2000 he moved from the Science to the Medical Faculty to facilitate the translation of his work on mouse models into the clinic. From 2000-2009 he was Director of the Sir Alastair Currie Cancer Research UK Laboratories and from 2004-2006 was Deputy Director of the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre. He is currently Head of the DNA Repair and Cancer Research Group.