Professor Martin Howard has joined the Institute as its first honorary group leader in a new initiative that aims to establish links with complementary, exciting, and relevant science leaders. Professor Howard is a senior group leader at the John Innes Centre, a globally-renowned centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology, where he leads research that applies mathematical modelling to give insights into complex biological processes. His current research includes investigating how cellular epigenetic memory states are set up and then stably maintained.
This work directly connects with the research being undertaken in the Institute’s Epigenetics research programme, setting the scene for a fruitful exchange of perspectives and approaches. Professor Howard will be hosted in the Epigenetics programme but will work more widely with groups across the Institute. Professor Howard has already established collaborations with the Rugg-Gunn and Reik labs.
Professor Howard commented: “I am very excited to be joining the Institute as the first honorary group leader. There is tremendous potential for collaborations, and I am very much looking forward to using my group’s skills in mathematical modelling to help unlock deep biological mechanisms, working closely together with Babraham Institute group leaders.”
Dr Gavin Kelsey, incoming Head of the Institute’s Epigenetics programme, said: “We are really looking forward to developing closer ties with Martin in applying modelling approaches to give us a richer understanding of the epigenetic processes we study. Our interdisciplinary collaborations bring huge value in delivering novel insights and I’m sure Martin will quickly find himself immersed in many stimulating discussions as we share areas of joint interest."
Professor Howard originally trained as a theoretical physicist, receiving his D Phil in 1996 from Oxford University. As a postdoc in Copenhagen, Vancouver and Leiden he worked for several years on statistical physics. His interests then shifted towards biology and its interface with physics. Following the award of a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, Martin moved to the Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London, before joining the John Innes Centre in the Department of Computational and Systems Biology in 2007. In the past he has worked on topics as diverse as cell size control, cell division positioning and metabolic resource allocation.
The Institute’s new honorary faculty programme is open for applications on a rolling basis. Interested individuals are invited to apply to the relevant Head of Programme (Epigenetics, Signalling or Immunology) to jointly develop a proposal. Honorary appointees will spend time at the Institute, interacting and working with a range of researchers across its three research programmes, in order to progress their own work and contribute to areas of shared interest. The outcomes of these interactions will be new collaborations, shared grant applications for future work, and full participation in the life of the Institute and wider campus.
Speaking about the new faculty programme, Professor Wolf Reik, a group leader in the Epigenetics research programme and the Institute’s Acting Director, said: “We are excited to start this new scheme whereby we are aiming to attract international leaders with complementary interests to spend time at the Institute and interact closely with all of us, for new science to emerge.”
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Main image: Abstract geometric network pattern, Shutterstock 299296220
Inset image: Professor Martin Howard
About the Babraham Institute
The Babraham Institute undertakes world-class life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. Our research focuses on cellular signalling, gene regulation, immunology and the impact of epigenetic regulation at different stages of life. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and support healthier ageing. The Institute is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, through Institute Strategic Programme Grants and an Institute Core Capability Grant, and also receives funding from other UK research councils, charitable foundations, the EU and medical charities.
02 July 2020