Faculty of Medical Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Michael Jackson

Senior Lecturer


After graduating with a BSc in Genetics from Nottingham in 1984, I did a PhD with Gabby Dover in Cambridge on P-element transposon regulation in Drosophila. I used P-elements as a mutagen to investigate quantitative trait variation during my first postdoctoral position, in Trudy MacKay’s lab in North Carolina State University, before returning to Cambridge in 1990 to work with Bruce Ponder. While there, I became involved in the Human Genome Project, and chose to focus on centromeric regions. These were proving refractory to standard mapping techniques, due to their low recombination rates and highly repetitive sequence organisation. In 1993 I was awarded a Royal Society University Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue this work, and I chose to take this up in Newcastle. As well as generating physical and sequence maps which form part of the human genome reference sequence I pursued my interest in processes underpinning molecular evolution, working on topics as diverse as gene conversion, chromosomal rearrangements in childhood cancers and, more recently, the function of circular RNAs. I am also involved in clinically oriented collaborations focusing on sequence instability within colorectal cancer.

Areas of expertise

  • Circular RNA
  • Genome instability
  • Cancer

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Research Interests

Circular RNA. Dynamics and Function

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) were first identified over 20 years ago, but until recently have been assumed to be rare errors of normal splicing reactions. However, advances in sequencing technologies have now established that thousands of genes generate circRNA isoforms and that these are the most abundant transcripts from some genes. There is now evidence that some act as microRNA sponges,and some have been implicated in both normal development and diseases states such as cancer. Some are even translated at low efficiency, indicating that circRNAs are functionally diverse. Despite this, basic information concerning their expression dynamics, regulation, normal function, and interaction with other regulatory RNAs remains poor. We are currently using high depth sequencing techniques, and manipulation of individual transcripts in both human and murine cell culture models, to better understand this novel class of transcripts

Genetics Instability in Cancer

I have a longstanding interest in the mechanisms underpinning genetic instability as these can have a profound impact upon human development and disease pathology. Although most of this research has involved the childhood cancers neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma, current research involves utilising high throughput sequencing approaches to investigate the impact of microsatellite instability in Lynch syndrome, and investigating the clinical utility of these approaches in patient management and treatment. This work is in collaboration with my colleagues Professor Sir John Burn and Dr. Mauro Santibanez-Koref.



Degree Programme Director: Genomic Medicine MSc Programme.

MRes Strand leader: Medical Genetics.    

Module Leader: GNM8002 Omics Techniques.

Module Leader: BGM2058 Evolution.

Lecturer: BGM2057 Medical Genomics - From DNA to Disease.

Lecturer: MMB8030 Genetic Medicine.

Lecturer: MMB8031 Developmental Genetics.

Lecturer: GNM8000/8001 Introduction to Human Genetics and Genomics.

Lecturer: GNM8004 Molecular Pathology of Cancer

Seminar Lead: BGM1004 Genetics