Dr Martin R. Higgs

Dr Martin R. Higgs

Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
Birmingham Fellow for Genomics and Rare Diseases
MRC Career Development Fellow

Contact details

Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences: IBR West Extension
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Martin Higgs is a group leader in the newly formed Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences. He is currently the Birmingham Fellow for Genomics and Rare Disease, and leads a research group working on the cellular response to genotoxic stress.

He has published papers in top journals, such as Molecular Cell, Oncogene, Cancer Research and Nature Genetics, and has been invited to speak at both national and international conferences.

Martin’s area of expertise is in the cellular response to DNA damage, and identifying novel regulators of this process. His particular interest is in studying how a single post-translational modification, known as Lysine methylation, regulates this process. In addition, part of his work focuses on the role of the DNA damage response in ensuring human development and preventing rare human diseases.

He also maintains a long-standing interest in the impact of chronic viral infection on this process, and on the consequences of this on the DNA damage response during carcinogenesis. 


  • PhD in Virology, University of Glasgow, 2008
  • BSc in Molecular & Cellular Biology, University of Stirling, 2004


  • BSc Biomedical Science Advanced Molecular Genetics (Year 2)
  • BSc Biomedical Science Cancer Pathogenesis and Treatment (Year 3)
  • BSc Biomedical Science DNA Damage Response (Year 3)
  • MBChB Cancer: Causes to Cures (Year 2)

Postgraduate supervision

Martin Higgs’s area of expertise is in the cellular response to DNA damage, and identifying novel regulators of this process. He also maintains a long-standing interest in the impact of chronic viral infection on this process, and on the consequences on the DNA damage response during carcinogenesis.

Martin is currently co-supervising doctoral students in studying novel actors which regulate the response to genotoxic stress.

Other activities

Reviewer for grant funding bodies and journals.


Recent publications


Zarrizi, R, Higgs, M, Voßgröne, K, Rossing, M, Bertelsen, B, Bose, M, Kousholt, AN, Rösner, H, Network, TC, Ejlertsen, B, Stewart, G, Nielsen, FC & Sørensen, C 2020, 'Germline RBBP8 variants associated with early-onset breast cancer 1 compromise replication fork stability', Journal of Clinical Investigation. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI127521

Kummerling, J, Stremmelaar, DE, Raun, N, Reijnders, MRF, Willemsen, MH, Ruiterkamp-Versteeg, M, Schepens, M, Man, CCO, Gilissen, C, Cho, MT, McWalter, K, Sinnema, M, Wheless, JW, Simon, MEH, Genetti, CA, Casey, AM, Terhal, PA, van der Smagt, JJ, van Gassen, KLI, Joset, P, Bahr, A, Steindl, K, Rauch, A, Keller, E, Raas-Rothschild, A, Koolen, DA, Agrawal, PB, Hoffman, TL, Powell-Hamilton, NN, Thiffault, I, Engleman, K, Zhou, D, Bodamer, O, Hoefele, J, Riedhammer, KM, Schwaibold, EMC, Tasic, V, Schubert, D, Top, D, Pfundt, R, Higgs, M, Kramer, JM & Kleefstra, T 2020, 'Characterization of SETD1A haploinsufficiency in humans and Drosophila defines a novel neurodevelopmental syndrome', Molecular Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-0725-5

Wing, P, Davenne, T, Wettengel, J, Lai, AG, Zhuang, X, Chakraborty, A, d'Arienzo, V, Kramer, C, Ko, C, Harris, J, Schreiner, S, Higgs, M, Roessler, S, Parish, J, Protzer, U, Balfe, P, Rehwinkel, J & McKeating, JA 2019, 'A dual role for SAMHD1 in regulating HBV cccDNA and RT-dependent particle genesis', Life Science Alliance, vol. 2, no. 2. https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.201900355

Burrage, L, Reynolds, J, Baratang, N, Phillips, J, Wegner, J, McFarquhar, A, Higgs, M, Christiansen, A, Lanza, D, Seavitt, J, Jain, M, Li, X, Parry, D, Raman, V, Chitayat, D, Chinn, I, Bertuch, A, Karaviti, L, Schlesinger, A, Earl, D, Bamshad, M, Savarirayan, R, Doddapaneni, H, Muzny, D, Jhangiani, S, Eng, C, Gibbs, R, Bi, W, Emrick, L, Rosenfeld, J, Postlethwait, J, Westerfield, M, Dickinson, M, Beaudet, A, Ranza, E, Huber, C, Cormier-Daire, V, Shen, W, Mao, R, Heaney, J, Orange, J, Undiagnosed Diseases Network, Bertola, D, Yamamoto, G, Baratela, W, Butler, M, Ali, A, Adeli, M, Cohn, D, Krakow, D, Jackson, A, Lees, M, Offiah, A, Carlston, C, Carey, J, Stewart, G, Bacino, C, Campeau, P & Lee, B 2019, 'Biallelic Variants in TONSL Cause SPONASTRIME Dysplasia and a Spectrum of Skeletal Dysplasia Phenotypes', American Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 104, no. 3, pp. 422-438. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.01.007

Chang, HR, Cho, SY, Lee, JH, Lee, E, Soo, J, Lee, HR, Cavalcanti, DP, Mäkitie, O, Valta, H, Girisha, KM, Lee, C, Neethukrishna, K, Bhavani, GS, Shukla, A, Nampoothiri, S, Phadke, SR, Park, MJ, Ikegawa, S, Wang, Z, Higgs, M, Stewart, G, Jung, E, Lee, M-S, Park, JH, Lee, EA, Kim, H, Myung, K, Jeon, W, Lee, K, Kim, D, Kim, O-H, Choi, M, Lee, H-W, Kim, Y & Cho, T-J 2019, 'Hypomorphic Mutations in TONSL Cause SPONASTRIME Dysplasia', American Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 104, no. 3, pp. 439-453. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2019.01.009

Bayley, R, Blakemore, D, Cancian, L, Dumon, S, Volpe, G, Ward, C, Al Maghrabi, R, Gujar, J, Reeve, N, Raghavan, M, Higgs, M, Stewart, G, Petermann, E & Garcia, P 2018, 'MYBL2 supports DNA double strand break repair in haematopoietic stem cells', Cancer Research, vol. 78, no. 20, pp. 5767-5779. https://doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-0273

Higgs, M, Sato, K, Reynolds, J, Begum, S, Bayley, R, Goula, A, Vernet, A, Paquin, K, Skalnik, D, Kobayashi, W, Takata, M, Howlett, N, Kurumizaka, H, Kimura, H & Stewart, G 2018, 'Histone methylation by SETD1A protects nascent DNA through the nucleosome chaperone activity of FANCD2', Molecular Cell, vol. 71, no. 1, pp. 25-41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2018.05.018

Ronson, G, Piberger, AL, Higgs, M, Olsen, A, Stewart, G, McHugh, P, Petermann, E & Lakin, N 2018, 'PARP1 and PARP2 stabilise replication forks at base excision repair intermediates through Fbh1-dependent Rad51 regulation', Nature Communications, vol. 9, 746. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-03159-2

Marsh, E, Delury, C, Davies, N, Weston, C, Miah, MAL, Banks, L, Parish, J, Higgs, M & Roberts, S 2017, 'Mitotic control of human papillomavirus genome-containing cells is regulated by the function of the PDZ-binding motif of the E6 oncoprotein', OncoTarget, vol. 8, pp. 19491-19506. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.14469

Reynolds, J, Higgs, M, Zlatanou, A, Vernet, A, Taylor, M & Stewart, G 2017, 'Mutations in DONSON disrupt replication fork stability and cause microcephalic dwarfism', Nature Genetics, vol. 49, pp. 537–549. https://doi.org/10.1038/ng.3790

Higgs, M & Stewart, G 2016, 'Protection or resection: BOD1L as a novel replication fork protection factor', Nucleus (Austin). https://doi.org/10.1080/19491034.2016.1143183

Stewart, G, Higgs, M & Zlatanou, A 2016, 'TRAIP promotes DNA damage response during genome replication and is mutated in primordial dwarfism', Nature Genetics, vol. 48, pp. 36-43. https://doi.org/10.1038/ng.3451

Higgs, M, Reynolds, J, Winczura, A, Blackford, AN, Borel, V, Miller, E, Zlatanou, A, Nieminuszczy, J, Ryan, E, Davies, N, Stankovic, T, Boulton, S, Niedzwiedz, W & Stewart, G 2015, 'Bod1l is required to suppress deleterious resection of stressed replication forks', Molecular Cell, vol. 59, no. 3, pp. 462-477. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2015.06.007

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Kotsantis, P, Jones, R, Higgs, M & Petermann, E 2015, Cancer Therapy and Replication Stress: Forks on the Road to Perdition. in GS Makowski (ed.), Advances in Clinical Chemistry. vol. 69, Academic Press (Elsevier), pp. 91-138. <http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065242314000420>


Begum, S, Goula, A, Bayley, R & Higgs, M 2018, 'On your marks, get SET(D1A): the race to protect stalled replication forks', Molecular and Cellular Oncology, vol. 5, no. 6, e1511209. https://doi.org/10.1080/23723556.2018.1511209

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