Dr Robert Beagrie
Rob is a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow working with Prof. Doug Higgs in the MRC Haematology Unit on regulatory regions of DNA called enhancers and how they function to regulate gene expression.
Rob studied Biochemistry as an undergraduate at Cambridge University and completed his PhD at Imperial college supervised by Prof. Ana Pombo, who subsequently moved to the Max Delbruck Centre in Berlin.
For his Doctoral project, Rob developed Genome Architecture Mapping (GAM), a new technology for measuring the complex folding of DNA in the 3D space of the nucleus. GAM holds the potential to help understand how genes are switched on and off in rare cell types that are currently difficult to study using alternative approaches. Many of these rare cells are affected in genetic disease, and the ability to connect DNA sequence variants to the genes they affect will provide new insights crucial for developing diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.
Whilst working on GAM Rob developed a passion for enhancer biology and a keen interest in the mechanism by which enhancers activate expression of their target genes. He was awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship project to dissect the mechanisms driving gene activation by enhancers during red blood cell differentiation.
In collaboration with Assoc. Prof. Merav Socolovsky (UMass Medical School), Rob will identify the genes activated during early red blood cell development and the enhancers that regulate them by using global approaches to measure changes in DNA folding, binding of regulatory proteins to enhancers and gene activity.