Balfour Lecturer 2017

The Genetics Society is pleased to announce that the 2017 Balfour Lecture will be awarded to Dr Andrew Wood (MRC Human Genetics Unit, Edinburgh).  The Balfour Lecture, named after the Genetics Society’s first President, is an award to mark the contributions to genetics of an outstanding young investigator.

Andrew Wood is a Sir Henry Dale Fellow and Chancellor’s fellow at the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh. His doctoral work was undertaken with Rebecca Oakey at Kings College London, where he worked on the evolutionary origins and transcriptional regulation of imprinted genes in mammals. After using evolutionary properties of known imprinted genes to identify a novel imprinted locus, he discovered that epigenetic modifications within gene bodies can influence the decision between splicing and polyadenylation.

In 2008 he relocated to Barbara Meyer’s laboratory at UC Berkeley, where he was an early adopter of genome editing technologies, and published the first animal model generated using TALENs in 2011. Working with nematode worms, he and co-workers showed that methods for generating and isolating mutations using gene editing nucleases could be readily applied across species, which opened up reverse genetics in taxa where this was previously impractical.

Since moving to Edinburgh in 2011, his laboratory has focused on cell cycle regulation of chromosome structure and its relationship with mutational processes in primary haematopoietic cells. His group also continues to use genome editing tools for studies of directed evolution and DNA repair.

Andrew presented his lecture at the Genetics Society Autumn Meeting, “The Genome in Healthcare” at The Royal Society, November 2017.