Institute of Genetic Medicine

Staff Profile

Professor Susan Lindsay

Prof of Human Dev Genetics

Research

Gene expression studies during early human development

New technologies are enabling data to be collected on an unprecedented scale and making feasible a renewed focus on gene function, crucial for the large number of genes that play a role in human genetic disorders. One very important aspect of this work is to characterise gene expression patterns. Although animal models provide very powerful ways of studying normal and abnormal development, there are significant differences between humans and animals.

My main research interest is in prenatal human brain development, particularly during the embryonic and early fetal stages. We are analysing gene expression patterns directly during human development both as part of specific projects and also on behalf of registered users of the MRC-Wellcome Trust Human Developmental Biology Resource (HDBR; www.hdbr.org). The HDBR is a tissue bank of human embryonic and fetal tissues, for which I am the Director in Newcastle and Prof Andrew Copp is the Director of the London site at the Institute of Child Health, UCL.

The human brain develops initially from a simple tube to a complex, highly organised three-dimensional (3D) structure with unique cognitive functions. In pioneering studies, we have generated 3D models of early human development onto which we are mapping gene expression patterns and defining anatomical features. These form the basis of the HuDSeN (Human Developmental Studies Network) Atlas and human gene expression spatial database (HuDSeN GXD; www.hudsen.org), now part of HDBR. HDBR’s HuDSeN GXD developed from the EMAGE database in collaboration with Professor Richard Baldock and his colleagues in the Edinburgh Mouse Atlas Project (http://www.emouseatlas.org/emap/home.html). Prof Luis Puelles’ and his colleagues at the University of Murcia (http://murcia.academia.edu/LuisPuelles) were instrumental in the anatomical delineations of early brain regions in the 3D models.

In collaboration with Dr Gavin Clowry (Institute of Neuroscience, http://www.ncl.ac.uk/ion/staff/profile/gavinclowry.html#background), we are studying the early development and function of the cortex.

Recently, a collaboration has been established with Prof Muzlifah Hanifa (Newcastle University) and Dr Sarah Teichmann who co-lead the Human Fetal Cell Atlas project (https://www.humancellatlas.org/areas-of-impact), an exciting new part of the Human Cell Atlas, which aims to generate a single cell atlas of tissues across developmental stages. 

Co-workers

Dr Steven Lisgo, Senior Research Associate

Dr Janet Kerwin,
Senior Research Associate

Dr Yuzhu Cheng, Research Associate

Moira Crosier, Research Associate

Jacqui Dobor, Group Secretary

Lynne Overman, Research Associate

 Project led by Dr Gavin Clowry:

Ayman Alzu’Bi (PhD student)

Publications