Michelle Percharde, MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences
Investigating retrotransposon-driven gene expression programmes in early development
Dr Michelle Percharde is an epigenetics and stem cell biologist. She carried out her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge and PhD at Imperial College, London. In 2013, she moved to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and was awarded a CIRM postdoctoral fellowship to carry out her postdoctoral training with Prof. Miguel Ramalho-Santos. There, she investigated novel aspects of gene regulation during mammalian development, with a particular focus on retrotransposons. Retrotransposons are pieces of our DNA known to be ‘mobile’ and so able to paste themselves into new sites within our genomes. The expression of retrotransposons is normally considered to be highly destructive for cells; however, Michelle’s work uncovered that a common transposon, LINE1, also plays surprising and essential roles in normal embryo development. This work highlights how little is understood about the roles of transposons in normal cells, especially in normal or healthy embryo development.
Michelle moved to Imperial College and the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (MRC LMS) in September 2018 to start her own independent research group. With her Future Leaders Fellowship she will build a team committed to investigating how the regulation of retrotransposons is important in embryo development and can be disrupted in disease. She will focus on dissecting the role of the retrotransposons that are expressed at the earliest stages of mouse and human embryogenesis, where little is known about their function. Building on this, she will also study how mis-regulation of these elements may cause disease such as cancer in non-developmental cells and contexts.
Lab website: www.perchardelab.com
Departmental website: https://lms.mrc.ac.uk/research-group/chromatin-and-development/