Dr Ildem Akerman PhD

Ildem Akerman

Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
Diabetes UK RD Lawrence Fellow
Senior Lecturer in Functional Genomics

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)


Recent publications


Akerman, I, Maestro, MA, De Franco, E, Grau, V, Flanagan, S, Garcia-Hurtado, J, Mittler, G, Ravassard, P, Piemonti, L, Ellard, S, Hattersley, AT & Ferrer, J 2021, 'Neonatal diabetes mutations disrupt a chromatin pioneering function that activates the human insulin gene', Cell Reports, vol. 35, no. 2, 108981. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2021.108981

Nasteska, D, Fine, N, Ashford, F, Cuozzo, F, Viloria, K, Smith, G, Dahir, A, Dawson, PWJ, Lai, Y-C, Bastidas-Ponce, A, Bakhti, M, Rutter, G, Fiancette, R, Nano, R, Piemonti, L, Lickert, H, Zhou, Q, Akerman, I & Hodson, D 2021, 'PDX1LOW MAFALOW β-cells contribute to islet function and insulin release', Nature Communications, vol. 12, no. 1, 674. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20632-z

Schiffer, L, Bossey, A, Kempegowda, P, Taylor, A, Akerman, I, Scheel-Toellner, D, Storbeck, K-H & Arlt, W 2021, 'Peripheral blood mononuclear cells preferentially activate 11-oxygenated androgens', European Journal of Endocrinology, vol. 184, no. 3, pp. 353–363. https://doi.org/10.1530/EJE-20-1077

Nasteska, D, Cuozzo, F, Viloria, K, Johnson, E, Thakker, A, Bakar, RB, Westbrook, R, Barlow, J, Hoang, M, Joseph, J, Lavery, G, Akerman, I, Cantley, J, Hodson, L, Tennant, D & Hodson, D 2021, 'Prolyl-4-hydroxylase 3 maintains β-cell glucose metabolism during fatty acid excess in mice', JCI Insight, vol. 6, no. 16, e140288. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.140288

Westgate, C, Botfield, H, Alimajstorovic, Z, Yiangou, A, Walsh, M, Smith, G, Singhal, R, Mitchell, J, Grech, O, Markey, K, Hebenstreit, D, Tennant, D, Tomlinson, J, Mollan, S, Ludwig, C, Akerman, I, Lavery, G & Sinclair, A 2021, 'Systemic and adipocyte transcriptional and metabolic dysregulation in idiopathic intracranial hypertension', JCI Insight, vol. 6, no. 10, e145346. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.145346

Akerman, I, Kasaai, B, Bazarova, A, Sang, PB, Peiffer, I, Artufel, M, Derelle, R, Smith, G, Rodriguez-Martinez, M, Romano, M, Kinet, S, Tino, P, Theillet, C, Taylor, N, Ballester, B & Méchali, M 2020, 'A predictable conserved DNA base composition signature defines human core DNA replication origins', Nature Communications, vol. 11, no. 1, 4826 . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18527-0

Viloria, KM, Nasteska, D, Briant, LJB, Heising, S, Larner, D, Fine, N, Ashford, F, Da Silva Xavier, G, Jimenez-Gonzalez, M, Hasib, A, Cuozzo, F, Manning Fox, J, MacDonald, P, Akerman, I, Lavery, G, Flaxman, C, Morgan, N, Richardson, S, Hewison, M & Hodson, D 2020, 'Vitamin-D-binding protein contributes to the maintenance of α cell function and glucagon secretion', Cell Reports, vol. 31, no. 11, 107761. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.107761

Bazarova, A, Nieduszynski, CA, Akerman, I & Burroughs, NJ 2019, 'Bayesian inference of origin firing time distributions, origin interference and licensing probabilities from NGS data', Nucleic Acids Research, vol. 47, no. 5, pp. 2229–2243. https://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkn000

Ganier, O, Prorok, P, Akerman, I & Méchali, M 2019, 'Metazoan DNA replication origins', Current Opinion in Cell Biology, vol. 58, pp. 134-141.

Elhassan, YS, Kluckova, K, Fletcher, RS, Schmidt, MS, Garten, A, Doig, CL, Cartwright, DM, Oakey, L, Burley, CV, Jenkinson, N, Wilson, M, Lucas, SJE, Akerman, I, Seabright, A, Lai, Y, Tennant, DA, Nightingale, P, Wallis, GA, Manolopoulos, KN, Brenner, C, Philp, A & Lavery, GG 2019, 'Nicotinamide riboside augments the aged human skeletal muscle NAD+ metabolome and induces transcriptomic and anti-inflammatory signatures', Cell Reports, vol. 28, no. 7, pp. 1717-1728.e6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2019.07.043

Akerman, I, Tu, Z, Beucher, A, Rolando, DMY, Sauty-Colace, C, Benazra, M, Nakic, N, Yang, J, Wang, H, Pasquali, L, Moran, I, Garcia-Hurtado, J, Castro, N, Gonzalez-Franco, R, Stewart, AF, Bonner, C, Piemonti, L, Berney, T, Groop, L, Kerr-Conte, J, Pattou, F, Argmann, C, Schadt, E, Ravassard, P & Ferrer, J 2017, 'Human pancreatic β cell lncRNAs control cell-specific regulatory networks', Cell Metabolism, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 400-411. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2016.11.016

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 & Development, vol. 30, no. 5, pp. 502-507. https://doi.org/10.1101/gad.273821.115

Tattikota, SG, Rathjen, T, McAnulty, SJ, Wessels, H-H, Akerman, I, van de Bunt, M, Hausser, J, Esguerra, JLS, 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, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 122-34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2013.11.015

Pasquali, L, Gaulton, KJ, Rodríguez-Seguí, SA, Mularoni, L, Miguel, I, Akerman, I, 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, Gómez-Skarmeta, JL, Müller, F, McCarthy, MI & Ferrer, J 2014, 'Pancreatic islet enhancer clusters enriched in type 2 diabetes risk-associated variants', Nature Genetics, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 136-43. https://doi.org/10.1038/ng.2870

Other contribution

Viloria, K, Nasteska, D, Briant, LJB, Heising, S, Larner, D, Fine, NHF, Ashford, FB, Xavier, GDS, Ramos, MJ, Fox, JEM, MacDonald, PE, Akerman, I, Lavery, GG, Flaxman, C, Morgan, NG, Richardson, SJ, Hewison, M & Hodson, DJ 2019, Vitamin D-binding protein is required for the maintenance of α-cell function and glucagon secretion.. https://doi.org/10.1101/2019.12.19.881185

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