Sari Pennings

Reader, SFHEA

  • Centre for Cardiovascular Science

Contact details



Queen's Medical Research Institute
Edinburgh Bioquarter
47 Little France Crescent

Post code
EH16 4TJ

Postgraduate teaching

Postgraduate Research Director, Centre for Cardiovascular Science

MScR in Biomedical Sciences (Life Sciences) - Course Organiser 'Genes and Disease'

Postgraduate Committee, Centre for Cardiovascular Science - Member

PhD Supervisor

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA, 2021)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Research summary

We investigate the dynamics of epigenetic DNA methylation and histone modifications essential for early development, cell lineage differentiation, and cell fate reprogramming during the life course. These marks create an epigenetic ‘landscape’ that supports cell type specific gene regulatory networks but can also provide an epigenetic readout of disease, environmental exposure, and ageing.  We study these epigenetic mechanisms in tissue specification, including cardiovascular development, the developmental origins of disease, and the effects of metabolism and environmental pollution. Our research interests centre on chromatin-mediated gene repression mechanisms and chromatin remodelling in gene activation in the cell nucleus of mammalian and vertebrate embryos and organ tissues, stem cells, reprogrammed cells and yeast-based models. Our research employs a range of molecular and cell biology techniques, advanced microscopy imaging and bioinformatics. We have discovered that heterochromatin matures late in development but is induced early in mouse embryonic stem cells; and that epigenetic marks can rapidly adapt to cell culture environment.


Sari Pennings Research Group

Current research interests

Keywords: Epigenetics, Chromatin, Development, Cardiovascular, Environmental Exposure, Cell Metabolism, Stem Cells, Cell Reprogramming, Histone Modification, DNA Methylation

Knowledge exchange

Carnegie Trust for the Universities Scotland – Assessor

BBSRC Committee C Core Member; Committees D and TDRF Pool of Experts – Grant Awarding Panel member (2009-2016; 2023 - current)

BSc MSci Biomedical Sciences programmes at Newcastle University – External Examiner (2016-2020)

Global Undergraduate Awards, Dublin – Life Sciences Judging Panel member

Research activities

View all 67 activities on Research Explorer

View all 52 publications on Research Explorer


Edinburgh Chromatin, Epigenetics & Transcriptional Regulation Network, Joint Organiser


Edinburgh Metabolism Research Theme meetings, 27 Jan 2023 and 23 Jan 2024, Joint Organiser

Special Issue on 'The Stem Cell Niche: Interactions between Stem Cells and Their Environment' for 'Stem Cells International' - Lead Guest Editor


Special Issue on 'Epigenetic Connections between the Gene Regulatory Network and Chromatin Dynamics' for 'International Journal of Molecular Sciences (IJMS)' - Guest Editor 

I have championed Public Engagement with Research at the University of Edinburgh since 2010, and I continue to work towards developing higher impact strategies and more effective integration of public engagement within research projects.

My Public Engagement extracurricular activities include:

Public Engagement Committee, Centre for Cardiovascular Science - Academic Lead and Co-Chair

Public Engagement Forum of the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine - Co-Chair (2017-2019)

Public Engagement Strategy Group of the University of Edinburgh - Member (2018-2019)

Public Engagement Family Events organised jointly by Centres of the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine - Coordinator (2017-2019)

Public Engagement 'Healthy Heart!' by the Centre for Cardiovascular Science at Edinburgh Science Festival - Organiser (2010-2016)

CVS Staff and Students demonstrate hands-on science at Edinburgh Science Festival