New Committee Members 2022

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The Genetics Society welcomes two new members to the committee – Dr Jason Mellad and Dr Laura Dixon,  and the return of Professor Jonathan Pettitt.

Jason Mellad takes up the Corporate Genetics and Biotechnology post vacated by Alison Bentley.

Dr. Jason Mellad is a scientist entrepreneur passionate about translating innovative technologies into more effective therapies and better patient outcomes.  He founded Start Codon to identify and recruit high-potential and disruptive healthcare startups worldwide, seed fund them, and leverage the exceptional resources of the Cambridge (UK) Cluster with an aim to minimise risk and drive their success.  Previously, Jason was CEO of Cambridge Epigenetix which has developed a proprietary epigenetic biomarker discovery platform for the development of new diagnostic assays and the identification of novel drug targets.  While at Cambridge Epigenetix, he transformed the research tools company into a leading liquid biopsy player and led two successful fundraises (Series B and C) for a total of $49.8m.  He has also served as an associate at Cambridge Enterprise, the technology transfer office of the University of Cambridge.  Jason was awarded a Marshall Scholarship to obtain his PhD in Medicine from the University of Cambridge with a focus on the molecular mechanisms regulating vascular remodelling within coronary artery bypass grafts. He has a BSc (Summa Cum Laude) in Molecular Biology and Chemistry from Tulane University.  Through this position, Jason hopes to bring an entrepreneurial perspective to the Genetics Society to help drive the translation of further genomic innovations into the clinic.  He also aims to promote the broad adoption of next generation analytical techniques including epigenetics and chromatin conformation capture. 

Dr Laura Dixon takes up the Applied and Quantitative Genetics post vacated by Alastair Wilson.

Dr Laura Dixon is a lecturer in Crop Genetics and Physiology and UKRI Future Leader Fellow at the University of Leeds, UK.  She received her PhD from the University of Edinburgh (understanding plant circadian rhythms) and her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cambridge (Natural Sciences).  Her research group works to understand how cereals respond to temperature signals and use this knowledge to adapt and increase the robustness of the plants developmental response to these signals.  The group’s work combines fundamental discovery science at the molecular and genetic level with the translation of this into realistic in-field environments.  Their work focuses on reproductive plant biology including the vegetative to floral transition, floret formation and flowering time regulation.  Through understanding these processes they aim to increase the developmental robustness of cereals, in particular wheat, under the increasingly variable climate conditions to enable an improvement in yield potential stability.  These research interests have developed from Dr Dixon’s previous work as a post-doctoral researcher at the John Innes Centre, Norwich where she investigated spikelet regulation and ambient temperature responses during the vegetative to floral transition in wheat.

Jonathan Pettitt returns to the committee after a short break to take over the post of Vice president for the Public Understanding of Genetics.