Epigenetics programme welcomes Professor Kathy Niakan as honorary group leader

Epigenetics programme welcomes Professor Kathy Niakan as honorary group leader

Epigenetics programme welcomes Professor Kathy Niakan as honorary group leader

Key points:

  • Professor Kathy Niakan, has been appointed as an honorary group leader in the Epigenetics research programme. Kathy is Mary Marshall and Arthur Walton Professor of the Physiology of Reproduction, Director of the Centre for Trophoblast Research and Chair of the Reproduction Strategic Research Initiative at the University of Cambridge and group leader at the Francis Crick Institute.
  • In addition to her pioneering research, Professor Niakan has engaged with policy makers, funders and the public to provide expert advice on genome editing.
  • Professor Niakan’s appointment will help to facilitate her expanding collaborations with researchers at the Institute.

Professor Kathy Niakan, from the University of Cambridge and the Francis Crick Institute, is the third honorary group leader to join the Institute. Professor Niakan and her team are working with the Reik, Rugg-Gunn and Kelsey laboratories through the Wellcome Human Developmental Biology Initiative. As honorary group leader within the Epigenetics research programme, Professor Niakan is looking to expand her collaborative projects

Dr Gavin Kelsey, head of the Epigenetics research programme, welcomed Prof Niakan to the Institute: “We are delighted to introduce Prof Niakan as our programme’s second honorary group leader. I am excited to continue our collaborations and to learn from Kathy’s expertise as we begin to plan some ambitious new projects.” 

Professor Niakan spent her early career in the United States studying pluripotent stem cells at Harvard before moving to the UK as a Centre for Trophoblast Research Next Generation Fellow at the University of Cambridge. In 2013 she joined the Francis Crick Institute as a Group Leader. Her team has demonstrated the power of using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing techniques to gain valuable insights into human development (Fogarty et al., Nature 2017), contributed to the evaluation of a technique to help prevent the transmission of inherited mitochondrial diseases that led to changes in UK law (Hyslop et al., Nature 2016) and advanced methods to investigate early human post-implantation development in vitro (Shahbazi et al., Nature Cell Biology 2016). As an honorary group leader, Professor Niakan will work with the Institute’s researchers to look further into the molecular events that happen in the embryo just before and shortly after implantation.

Prof Kathy Niakan
Prof. Kathy Niakan

Speaking about her new appointment, Professor Niakan commented: “I am thrilled to be joining the Babraham Institute as an honorary group leader. I am very much looking forward to using our skills in early human development to help understand the earliest stages of human life by working closely together with Babraham Institute group leaders. I am excited about the potential to build on and to initiate new collaborations with colleagues across the Institute.”

The Institute’s honorary faculty programme is open for applications on a rolling basis. The Institute announced the first appointment to this programme of Professor Martin Howard in July 2020, with Professor Valerie O’Donnell joining in March 2021. Honorary appointees will develop collaborations within and across the Institute’s research programmes, participating in joint grant applications for future work. Honorary group leaders will spend time at the Institute, participating in the life of the Institute and wider campus. Interested individuals are invited to apply to the relevant Head of Programme (Epigenetics, Signalling or Immunology) to jointly develop a proposal.



Honor Pollard, Communications Officer, honor.pollard@babraham.ac.uk         

Image description: Artistic depiction of an embryo

Related resources:

News 22 March 2021: Valerie O’Donnell appointed as Signalling programme honorary group leader

News 15 July 2019: Human Developmental Biology Initiative announced

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.