Research Biographies

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Disease Mechanisms

Head of Disease Mechanisms (Joint with David FitzPatrick)

Ian Jackson

Contact Details

E-mail address:
Telephone: +44 (0)131 651 8559
Fax: +44 (0)131 651 8800
Address: MRC Human Genetics Unit MRC IGMM, University of Edinburgh Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh EH4 2XU
Research Programme 1: Molecular Genetics and
Development of Melanocytes
Research Programme 2: Genetic Models of Human Disease



Ian Jackson has a First Class degree in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford. He went on to do a PhD with Bob Williamson at St. Mary's Hospital in London, at the very beginning of DNA cloning studies on humans. In 1981 he joined Don Brown's laboratory at the Carnegie Institution in Baltimore where he studied TF3A, the first vertebrate transcription factor to be identified. He subsequently joined the MRC Mammalian Development Unit at UCL, under the Directorship of Anne McLaren. In 1986 Ian moved to the MRC Human Genetics Unit as a Lister Fellow. He became an MRC Senior Scientist in 1991 and Head of Medical and Developmental Genetics in 2009. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2008. Among other responsibilities he is currently President of the European Society for Pigment Cell Research and a Board Member of the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research.


Academic Qualifications

  • Bachelor
    • 1977, Bachelor of Arts, 1st, University of Oxford
  • Doctorate
    • 1980, Doctor of Philosophy, PhD, University of London

Research in Nutshell

We study mice with genetic mutations in order to understand how genes control normal human development and disease. Mice have almost the same set of genes as humans, and malfunction or mutation of these genes usually has very similar consequences.

We study how genetic mutations lead to eye disease, in two ways. Firstly we examine mice in which random mutations have been created, in order to identify mutation that result in eye disease. Secondly, we look at mice in which particular genes have been knocked out as part of a project that is systematically mutating every gene one by one.

We also study how genes control melanocytes, which are the cells in the body producing pigment in skin and hair. These cells have a very interesting embryonic history, and genes affect how these cells develop, proliferate and become located at the correct places in the skin and hair follicle.