Dr Sophie Trefely joins the Institute as new group leader

Dr Sophie Trefely joins the Institute as new group leader

Dr Sophie Trefely joins the Institute as new group leader

Key points:

  • Dr Sophie Trefely is welcomed to the Institute today as a group leader across the Epigenetics and Signalling research programmes.
  • Dr Trefely’s research focuses on the signalling role of metabolites in diseases of ageing including diabetes, obesity and cancer.
  • Dr Trefely joins the Institute from the University of Pennsylvania where she was a postdoctoral researcher.

Dr Sophie Trefeley

The Institute is delighted to welcome Dr Sophie Trefely to the Institute as a new group leader. Sophie will work across the Epigenetics and Signalling research programmes, with a focus on metabolism and ageing.

Dr Gavin Kelsey, head of the Epigenetics research programme, welcomed Sophie to the Institute: "We are really delighted to welcome Sophie Trefely as a new group leader to the Epigenetics research programme. Sophie is jointly appointed with Signalling, and we are excited that her cutting-edge work on nuclear metabolites will really help us elucidate metabolic inputs into the regulation of chromatin."

Sophie’s research focuses on the function of metabolites within the nucleus in ageing and metabolic conditions like obesity and type 2 diabetes. Metabolites act as signals for cells, helping them to adapt to their nutritional environment. When metabolites are inside the nucleus of a cell, they can act as epigenetic tags, crossing into the realms of gene regulation to alter cell behaviour. Using state of the art techniques, Sophie and her team will be able to analyse the effect of metabolites, and their availability, on histone modification. They will also seek to investigate the potential for targeted dietary and metabolic interventions in cells and in mice.

Speaking about her new position, Sophie said: “I’m so happy to be starting my research group at the Babraham Institute. I look forward to contributing to the collaborative and supportive environment here. This is an incredible opportunity to tackle critical questions in the role of metabolites as signalling molecules connecting diet to epigenetics.”

Sophie studied for her PhD in Professor David James’s lab at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. In October 2015, she moved to Philadelphia, United States, taking up a joint postdoctoral position in the lab of Associate Professor Kathryn Wellen at the University of Pennsylvania and of Associate Professor Nathaniel Snyder at Drexel University and Temple University. During this time, her work identified the role of metabolic pathways in the function of fat tissue, in cancer and in responses to diet using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) based methods. Sophie’s work had a particular focus on the development of methods to analyse metabolism in sub-cellular compartments since the location of metabolites is critical to their function (Trefely et al. 2019 and Trefely et al. 2021).   



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

Image description: Representation of DNA and molecules

Additional/related resources:

News, 1st December 2021, Dr Philipp Voigt joins Epigenetics research programme

News, 5th July 2021, Welcoming Dr Ian McGough to the Signalling research programme

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 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.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £451 million in world-class bioscience in 2019-20. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.