News and events

BCGB internal meetingBirmingham Centre for Genome Biology Logo

Autumn 2019 speakers (PI)

11-Sep Thomas Dix (M. Soller)
18-Sep Jo Parish
25-Sep Jianming Wang (M. Saponaro)
02-Oct Chris Mahony (R. Monteiro)
09-Oct Sandeep Potluri (C. Bonifer)
16-Oct Hannah MacKay (J. Morris)
23-Oct Ada Jimenez Gonzalez (F. Mueller)
30-Oct Liza Piberger (E. Petermann)
06-Nov Shiyao Sun (Y. Fan)
13-Nov Ryan Cardenas (F. Mueller)
20-Nov Sarah Bevington (P. Cockerill)
27-Nov Katarzyna Starowicz (J. Morris)
04-Dec Ceri Oldreive (T. Stankovic)
11-Dec Joseph Wragg (F. Mueller)

All meetings at 09.30 in IBR N143

News at the BCGB

Professor Jo Morris published a paper in Nature describing a novel mechanism regulating the structure of the BRCA1 protein and how mutations in breast cancer prevent the BRCA1 protein from adopting the correct structure. BRCA1 normally protects the genome from DNA damage and this function is controlled by an isomerase that puts a bend in the BRCA1 protein. The Morris laboratory showed that some mutations occur in the isomerisation site and bypass this mode of regulation, and block normal BRCA1 function.

Photo of Jo Morris
Professor Jo Morris



Promotions and awards for BCGB members in 2019

Dr Jo Parish and Claire Davies were both promoted to reader, in recognition of their outstanding progress as rising stars in research. Clare was recently awarded £1.4 million by the CRUK to study arginine methylation in cancer, based on high profile publications in Molecular Cell and Cell Reports, while Jo was awarded a MRC grant to study HPV based on her long term research and extensive publications in the area of viral gene regulation and replication.

Clare Davis Landing Page promo row


Dr Clare Davies




Dr Jo ParishJo Parish





Professor Ian Tomlinson was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of genetics.

Professor Ian Tomlinson





Continuing outstanding grant success

The strong recent track record of BCGB members at winning major grant funding has continued with the award of ~ £10 million in grant funding in the first few months of 2019.

These awards include

  • £4 million for 3 CRUK programme grants for Eva Petermann, Jo Morris and Tanja Stankovic
  • £3.4 million for 2 Wellcome Trust grants for Ian Tomlinson and Aga Gambus
  • Research Council Project grants for Dr Marco Saponano, Dr Eva Petermann, Dr Sheela Jayaraman, and for Professor Conny Bonifer together with Professor Peter Cockerill. 


New drug targets identified for personalised medicine in acute myeloid leukaemia

Peter Cockerill and Constanze Bonifer

The group of Constanze Bonifer and Peter Cockerill have revealed the roles that different types of gene mutations play in causing acute myeloid leukaemia in a study that was the culmination of a decade’s research. The findings of the team mean that doctors are now one step closer to being able to provide tailored and targeted treatment specific to individual AML patients. By identifying the specific mutations present in each AML patient and gathering genome-wide data on each of them, they were able to identify the main trigger points where critical mutations feed through to other genes that control the cells’ identity and behaviour.

Crucially, AML cells from patients with the same types of mutations always show the same pattern of abnormal gene regulation when they become cancer cells. This means that personalised medicine will one day become a reality for AML patients, allowing a different drug to be given to treat each form of AML. This has already been validated for one common subtype in AML.

In collaboration with Professor Olaf Heidenreich’s team at Newcastle University, this team also found that a growth-promoting gene, called CCND2, was crucial for the survival of AML with t(8;21) translocations. The already approved breast cancer drug called palbociclib designed to inhibit CCDN2 was able to block AML tumour development - therefore identifying it as a drug that could be used to target and treat AML.

These results were just published in

Assi et al (2018). ‘Subtype-specific regulatory network rewiring in acute myeloid leukemia’. Nature Genetics. DOI: 10.1038/s41588-018-0270-1

Martinez-Soria et al. ‘The oncogenic transcription factor RUNX1/ETO corrupts cell cycle regulation to drive leukaemia transformation.’  Cancer Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.ccell.2018.08.015

2019 BCGB away day trip to the Malvern Hills

This year we had our most ambitious BCGB away yet, with a hike up to the top of the Worcestershire Beacon, the highest point in the Malvern Hills. The biggest challenge of the trip was not the 200 m climb, but the weather. Luckily we missed the worst of the torrential rain that had been falling all day as we all headed down to Malvern on the train. Once on the walk we took shelter at St Anne’s well (pictured) until the rain stopped, and the mist lifted as we hiked to the top with views all around. We arrived at the top in atmospheric conditions with mist swirling all around, before walking back down to a dinner together in Malvern. 

Group on the 2019 BCGB Away Day

St Anne’s Well, Malvern (June 2019) 

2019 BCGB Away Day group reaching the highest point in the Malvern Hills 2019

Worcestershire Beacon, the highest point in the Malvern Hills (June 2019)


2018 BCGB Away Day visit to Packwood House

2018 BCGB group on their Away Day

The 2018 BCGB away day in the Warwickshire countryside was a great day out with over 40 of our members taking part. We started out in Lapworth with a walk along the Stratford Canal to the Elizabethan manor at the National Trust property at Packwood House, and finished with a dinner overlooking the Grand Union Canal.

2017 BCGB Away Day visit to Soho House

This event explored the industrial roots of Birmingham as the “Workshop of the World”. It began at Galton Bridge (built by Telford) and followed the route of the Birmingham Canal (built by Brindley). It included a visit to Soho House, the home of the 18th century industrialist Matthew Boulton. Soho house was famously the meeting place for the Lunar Society, a group that included James Watt, Erasmus Darwin, Josiah Wedgewood and Joseph Priestley, which met once a month to discuss science and philosophy.

soho house

2016 BCGB Away Day Walk in the Woods

Members of the BCGB enjoyed a walk in the Lickey Hills for their 2016 away day at Barnt Green.

2016 BCGB away day IMG_6825

2015 BCGB Bluebell Woods Walk

Pictured are members of BCGB who went on the walk through the bluebells in the Lickey Hills (May 2015) 

2015 bluebell walk

Seminars at the BCGB

BCGB internal meeting

Summer 2019 speakers (PI)

Wednesday 17th July Onofrio Zanin (P. Grzechnik) 

The role of the 5’ cap structure in the transcriptional cycle

All meetings at 09.30 in IBR N143

Visiting seminar speakers


29 January - Phillip Voigt (University of Edinburgh)

26 February - Duncan Sproul (University of Edinburgh)

26 March - Douglas Vernimmen (University of Edinburgh)

22 October - Majolein Vansluis (National University of Ireland, Galway)

26 November - Ester Hammond (University of Oxford)

10 December - Doug Higgs (Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford)

Previous visiting seminar speakers


23 January - Lynne Cox (University of Oxford)

20 March - Richard Festenstein (Imperial Collage London)  

17 April - Panagia Filippakopoulos (SGC,University of Oxford)

22 May - Rob Klose (University of Oxford)

20 November - Delphine Larrieu (University of Cambridge)

2017 BCGB Seminar series 

21 February - Dr Veronique Azuara (Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, London)

21 March - Dr Cristina Lo Celso (Francis Crick Institute, London)

25 April - Dr Petra Hajkova (MRC Clinical Science Centre, Imperial College, London)

9 May - Dr Chiara Francavilla (Faculty of Life Science, University of Manchester)

13 June - Professor Adam Mead (Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford)

26 September - Narvaez (Astra Zeneca)

21 November - Andrew Jackson (University of Edinburgh)

5 December - Duncan Odem (Cancer Research UK  Cambridge Institute)


19 January - Florian Grebian (Ludwig Boltxmann Institute for Cancer Research), "Identification of critical effectors of C/EBPalpha mutant AML". 

16 February - Professor Elias Campo (Research Director, Hospital Clinic, Barcelona), “Clinical impact of recurrent coding and non-coding mutations in CLL”.

19 February -  Professor Daniel G. Tenen (Director of the Blood Program of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Director of the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore), “Epigenetic regulation by RNA in a normal and malignant context”. 

15 March - Professor Dean Jackson (University of Manchester), “Activation of signalling through the NF-kappaB and p53 stress response networks: mapping signalling oscillations to cell fate".

19 April - Dr Adele Murrell (University of Bath), “Models for studying epigenetic gene regulation in breast cancer”. 

24 May - Professpr Claus Nerlov (University of Oxford), “Dissecting hematopoietic stem- and progenitor cell populations using molecular and functional single cell approaches”.

20 September - Professor Tom Owen-Hughes (University of Dundee), “Structural and genomic insights into chromatin organisation”.

21 September - Dr David Blakey (Mina Therapeutics), “Pioneering small activating RNA oligonucleotides for transcriptional activation: Preclinical studies on MTL-CEBPA 

29 November -  Dr Sarah McClelland (Barts Cancer Institute, London)

13 December - Dr Nathalia Gromak (Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, Oxford)


25 February -  Francis Stewart (University of Dresden), "Regulation of the Genome by MLL Family Histone Methyl Transferases".

17 March -  Peter Fraser (Babraham Institute),"3D Structure and Function of the Genome: from Cell Populations to Single Cell Analyses". 

21 April - Marco Saponaro (Francis Crick Institute), "Transcription Regulation in the Context of Genome Stability Maintenance". 

19 May - Bertie Gottgens (University of Cambridge), "Single Cell Biology Links Cellular Function with Molecular Profile to Reveal Gene Regulatory Networks". 

16 June - Paola Scaffidi, "Epigenetics and functional intra-tumour heterogeneity".

25 June - Professor Ann Harris (Northwestern University, Chicago), "Coordinating epithelial function: from single locus to transcriptional network".

8 September - Dirk Schübeler (Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel), "Reading and writing DNA methylation".

8 September - Asifa Akhtar (Max Planck Institute of Immunology and Epigenetics, Freiburg). "Epigenetic regulation by MOF containing complexes".

23 October -  John Bushweller (University of Virginia), "Drugging the undruggable – Targeting transcription factors for cancer therapy".

24 November -  Dr Marco Saponaro (Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences),  Transcription regulation in the context of genome stability maintenance”.

1 December -  Dr Tatjana Sauka-Spengler, Associate Professor of Genome Biology, MRC Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford “Pioneering the chromatin for neural crest specification”.