Prim Singh

School of Medicine, National Laboratory Astana, Laboratory of translational medicine and Life Sciences Technologies, Laboratory of genomic and personalized medicine, Laboratory of bioengineering and regenerative medicine, Department of Medicine, Department of Biomedical Sciences

Professor Singh received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1987.  His doctoral work concerned the olfactory recognition of genetic individuality, where he showed that the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gives rise to odours that provide a life-long label of identity.  This has profound consequences for mating preference and kin recognition.  While in Cambridge, Prim Singh also discovered that the chromo-domain protein motif, shared by two Drosophila proteins, was conserved in animals and plants.  Chromo-domain proteins are now known to be key epigenetic regulators of gene activity.  Professor Singh’s work has done much to clarify the role mammalian HP1 chromo-domain proteins in genome organisation and gene expression.  He continued his work in Cambridge, pursuing mathematical modelling Drosophila development with particular reference to the mechanism by which the spatially-restricted patterns of the homeotic genes are set up during embryogenesis.  He then moved to Edinburgh to study nuclear reprogramming and human embryonic stem cells in the wake of the discovery of animal cloning – “Dolly-the-sheep”.  This work was continued in Germany, first at a Leibniz Institute near Hamburg and then, latterly, at the Charite Medical School in Berlin.

Research Interests:

Professor Singh’s group continues to work on fundamental mechanism of epigenetics.   His aim is to dissect the reprogramming process and his recent work has shown that “age” reprogramming, where the age of an old cell is “re-set”, is separable from “developmental” reprogramming where the specialised functions of a cell are “wiped clean” and returned back to an embryonic, pluripotent, state.  Work on obesity and neurodegeneration is also focussed on age-related decline.  His group is working towards developing technologies for rejuvenating cells without the need to pass through an embryonic stage, which is obligatory using current methods of rejuvenating cell function.