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Professor Philip Ingham FRS FMedSci Hon FRCP

Toh Kian Chui Distinguished Professor and Professor of Developmental Biology
Principal Investigator, Developmental Genetics Laboratory

Living Systems Institute Honorary Professor


Philip Ingham is the Professor of Developmental Biology at Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He was the inaugural Director of the Living Systems Institute.

I graduated in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge in 1977 and went on to obtain my PhD at the University of Sussex in 1980. I then undertook postdoctoral research at the CNRS Laboratoire de Genetique Moleculaire des Eucaryotes in Strasbourg, France and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) Mill Hill Laboratories, London. I then spent ten years as a Principal Investigator, first at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge and then at ICRF Laboratories in Oxford and London. In 1996 I was appointed Professor of Developmental Genetics at the University of Sheffield, where I established the MRC Centre for Developmental & Biomedical Genetics, of which I was the inaugural Director. In 2006 after a Visiting Professorship at the National University of Singapore, I became a Principal Investigator at the Singapore A*STAR Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, becoming Deputy Director the following year. In 2014 I was appointed Toh Kian Chui Distinguished Professor and Vice Dean Research at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where I am now a Professor of Developmental Biology. Between June 2016 and December 2018 I was the inaugural Director of the Livings Systems Institute at the University of Exeter.

I am a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. I was awarded the Genetics Society Medal in 2005 and the Waddington Medal by the British Society for Developmental Biology in 2014.

I have served on the advisory panels of a number of journals and international funding bodies including the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong University Grants Committee, the Wellcome Trust and the Human Frontiers of Science Programme (HFSP). I am currently Head of the Developmental Biology Faculty for the online reviews journal Faculty of 1000 and President of the International Society of Developmental Biologists. I also serve on the External Advisory Committee of the Max-Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim, Germany, and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Sars Centre for Molecular Marine Biology in Bergen, Norway.

My Research Work:

My research has always aimed to understand complex biological processes by studying them in the context of the whole organism. My group uses a genetically tractable organism, the tropical fish Danio rerio (commonly known as the zebrafish), as a model in which to unravel the molecular and cellual basis of human development and disease. Zebrafish not only offer exceptional opportunities for in vivo imaging, genetic manipulation and high throughput drug screening, but also address the aims of the 3Rs – Reduction, Refinement, Replacement - in animal research.

One of my lab’s long-standing interests is in the Hedgehog (Hh) cell signalling pathway. Although much has been learned about this enigmatic pathway over the past 20 years, there is still more to find out: our studies will focus on the mechanisms underlying the response of cells to Hedgehog signals and on the evolutionary origins of this pathway.

Another interest that we will continue to pursue is the development of skeletal muscle. We analyse the way in which physiologically distinct muscle fibre-types are specified and how these grow and regenerate throughout the life course of the organism. These studies can give insights into the mechanistic basis of human myopathies as well as processes that may be exploited in regenerative medicine.