Dr Ildem Akerman PhD

Dr Ildem Akerman

Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
Member of the 2017/18 Birmingham Fellows
Birmingham Fellow

Contact details

Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
Institute of Biomedical Research
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr. Akerman is interested in answering fundamental questions about gene regulation in diseased and healthy pancreatic beta cells through integrated use of molecular, genomic, computational and systems biology. In particular, her aim is to understand how various types of noncoding DNA elements interact to establish gene expression in the pancreatic beta cell.

Member of the 2017/18 Birmingham Fellows


  • DPhil in Molecular Genetics, University of Oxford, 2011
  • MSc. in Molecular Genetics, University of Oxford, 2003
  • Bsc. (highest distinction)  in Genetics, University of Rochester, 2002


Dr. Ildem Akerman received her DPhil. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Oxford. She later joined the team of Professor Jorge Ferrer as a postdoctoral researcher at IDIBAPS, Spain/Imperial College, London. Her earlier work characterized coding mutations that cause human pancreatic agenesis in the GATA6 gene, a previously unsuspected candidate in the pancreatic development. In addition to coding mutations, she characterized a number of cis-regulatory noncoding mutations that underlie neonatal diabetes, proving that non-coding mutations can also underlie human neonatal diabetes.

In 2016, Ildem moved to IGH, Montpellier to join the laboratory of Professor Marcel Mechali in order to study the link between transcription and initiation of DNA replication. In 2017, she was recruited to the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research (IMSR) at the University of Birmingham as a Birmingham Fellow to continue studying the relationship between the DNA replication initiation, epigenetic memory and transcriptional regulation in the pancreatic beta cell.


Dr Akerman's research aims to understand how gene expression is established and maintained in the pancreatic beta cell by the cis-regulatory elements. She is currently studying the link between DNA replication and its potential regulatory effects on transcription and 3D genome structure.

Other activities

•           Labex Postdoc representative (2016-2017)

•           Lecturer for MSc. degree in Genomic Medicine, Imperial College, UK

•           Teaching assistant and workshop leader (University of Rochester/University of Oxford)


Akerman I, Tu Z, Beucher A, Rolando D, Sauty-Colace C, Benazra M, Nakic N, Yang J, Wang H, Pasquali L, Moran I, Garcia-Hurtado J, Castro N, Gonzalez-Franco R, Stewart A F, Bonner C, Piemont Li, Berney T, Groop L, Kerr-Conte J, Pattou F, Argmann C, Schadt E, Ravassard P and Ferrer J. (2017) Human pancreatic β cell lncRNAs control cell-specific regulatory networks. Cell Metabolism

Arnes L, Akerman I, Balderes DA, Ferrer J, Sussel L. (2016) βlinc1 encodes a long noncoding RNA that regulates islet β-cell formation and function. Genes and Development. Second Author

Pasquali L, Gaulton KJ, Rodríguez-Seguí SA, Mularoni L, Miguel-Escalada I, Akerman İ, Tena JJ, Morán I, Gómez-Marín C, van de Bunt M, Ponsa-Cobas J, Castro N, Nammo T, Cebola I, García-Hurtado J, Maestro MA, Pattou F, Piemonti L, Berney T, Gloyn AL, Ravassard P, Skarmeta JL, Müller F, McCarthy MI, Ferrer J(2014) Pancreatic islet enhancer clusters enriched in type 2 diabetes risk-associated variants. Nature Genetics

Tattikota SG, Rathjen T, McAnulty SJ, Wessels HH, Akerman I, van de Bunt M, Hausser J, Esguerra JL, Musahl A, Pandey AK, You X, Chen W, Herrera PL, Johnson PR, O'Carroll D, Eliasson L, Zavolan M, Gloyn AL, Ferrer J, Shalom-Feuerstein R, Aberdam D, Poy MN. (2014) Argonaute2 mediates compensatory expansion of the pancreatic β cell. Cell Metabolism

Morán I, Akerman I, van de Bunt M, Xie R, Benazra M, Nammo T, Arnes L, Nakić N, García-Hurtado J, Rodríguez-Seguí S, Pasquali L, Sauty-Colace C, Beucher A, Scharfmann R, van Arensbergen J, Johnson PR, Berry A, Lee C, Harkins T, Gmyr V, Pattou F, Kerr-Conte J, Piemonti L, Berney T, Hanley N, Gloyn AL, Sussel L, Langman L, Brayman KL, Sander M, McCarthy MI, Ravassard P, Ferrer J. (2012) Human β cell transcriptome analysis uncovers lncRNAs that are tissue-specific, dynamically regulated, and abnormally expressed in type 2 diabetes. Cell Metabolism, *Joint first authorship

Rodríguez-Seguí S, Akerman I, Ferrer J. (2012) GATA believe it: new essential regulators of pancreas development. J Clin. Invest. 

Allen HL, Flanagan SE, Shaw-Smith C, De Franco E, Akerman I, Caswell R; International Pancreatic Agenesis Consortium, Ferrer J, Hattersley AT, Ellard S. (2011) GATA6 haploinsufficiency causes pancreatic agenesis in humans. Second author. Nature Genetics

Akerman I, van Arensbergen J, Ferrer J. (2011) Removing the brakes on cell identity. Developmental Cell

Kirkpatrick CL, Wiederkehr A, Baquié M, Akhmedov D, Wang H, Gauthier BR, Akerman I, Ishihara H, Ferrer J, Wollheim CB. (2011) Hepatic nuclear factor 1alpha (HNF1alpha) dysfunction down-regulates X-box-binding protein 1 (XBP1) and sensitizes beta-cells to endoplasmic reticulum stress. J Biol Chem.

Garin I, Edghill E L, Akerman I, Rubio-Cabezas O, Rica I, Locke JM, Maestro MA, Alshaikh A, Bundak R, del Castillo G, Deeb A, Deiss D, Fernandez JM, Godbole K, Hussain K, O’Connell M, Klupa T, Kolouskova S, Mohsin F, Perlman K, Sumnik Z, Rial JM, Ugarte E, Vasanthi T, Neonatal Diabetes International Group, Johnstone K, Flanagan SE, Martínez R,  Castaño C, Patch AM, Fernández-Rebollo E, Raile K,Morgan N, Harries LW, Castaño L, Ellard S, Ferrer J, Perez de Nanclares G and Hattersleyd AT, (2010) Recessive mutations in the INS gene result in neonatal diabetes through reduced insulin biosynthesis. PNAS, *Joint first authorship

For a full list of Dr Akerman's publications (ORCID:0000-0002-9875-1421)

View all publications in research portal