Anne Ferguson-Smith

Anne Carla Ferguson-Smith FRS FMedSci[3][4] (born 23 July 1961) is a mammalian developmental geneticist. She is the Arthur Balfour Professor of Genetics, Head of the Department of Genetics at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge.[5][6][7]

Anne Ferguson-Smith

Colour portrait photograph of Anne Ferguson-Smith
Anne Ferguson-Smith at the Royal Society admissions day in London, July 2017
Anne Carla Ferguson-Smith

1961 (age 58–59)[1]
Alma mater
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Cambridge
ThesisA genomic analysis of the human homeobox gene loci HOX 1 and HOX 2 (1989)
Doctoral advisorFrank Ruddle[2]
Other academic advisorsAzim Surani

Ferguson-Smith is an authority on genomic imprinting and the epigenetic control of genome function in health and disease, and is recognised for her work on parental-origin effects and epigenetic mechanisms.[3] Her work has uncovered epigenetically regulated processes in development and over the life course, and identified key in vivo mechanisms involved in the maintenance of epigenetic states. She also explores communication between the environment and the genome with implications for health, disease and inheritance.[4]


Ferguson-Smith was born on 23 July 1961 in Baltimore, Maryland, United States.[8] She was educated at the University of Glasgow[1] where she was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology. She moved to the Biology Department at Yale University to undertake a PhD identifying human Hox genes and characterising mammalian Hox clusters, supervised by Frank Ruddle.[9]

Career and ResearchEdit

Ferguson-Smith conducted postdoctoral research with Azim Surani at the University of Cambridge from 1989 to 1994, where she initiated molecular studies on genomic imprinting - the process causing genes to be expressed according to their parental origin. The team identified one of the first endogenous imprinted genes, and showed that the process was epigenetically regulated by DNA methylation.[10][11]

Her subsequent research in the Department of Physiology Development and Neuroscience[12] (formerly Anatomy) at the University of Cambridge identified functions for, and regulatory mechanisms of, genomic imprinting, and contributed to its establishment as a model for understanding the epigenetic control of mammalian genome function.[13] This work resulted in the characterisation of pathways important in mammalian development and growth, in the regulation of metabolism, and in the control of adult neurogenesis.[14][15]

In 2013 she was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Genetics[16] at the University of Cambridge and became the seventh Arthur Balfour Professor of Genetics in 2015. Her research continues to forge links between DNA sequence, epigenetic modifications and gene regulation, and their impact on phenotype; and the mechanisms and implications of epigenetic inheritance.[17]

Awards and honoursEdit

Ferguson-Smith was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) in 2002,[4] was awarded EMBO Membership in 2006[18] and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2017[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Ferguson-Smith is the daughter of the geneticist Malcolm Ferguson-Smith.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Anon (2015). "FERGUSON-SMITH, Prof. Anne Carla". Who's Who. (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.263410. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Rabin, Mark; Hart, Charles P.; Ferguson-Smith, Anne; McGinnis, William; Levine, Michael; Ruddle, Frank H. (1985). "Two homoeo box loci mapped in evolutionarily related mouse and human chromosomes". Nature. 314 (6007): 175–178. doi:10.1038/314175a0. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 4038785.  
  3. ^ a b c Anon (2017). "Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith FMedSci FRS". London: Archived from the original on 5 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Anon (2012). "Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith FRS FMedSci". London: Academy of Medical Sciences. Archived from the original on 1 August 2016.
  5. ^ Nagano, T.; Mitchell, J. A.; Sanz, L. A.; Pauler, F. M.; Ferguson-Smith, A. C.; Feil, R.; Fraser, P. (2008). "The Air Noncoding RNA Epigenetically Silences Transcription by Targeting G9a to Chromatin". Science. 322 (5908): 1717–1720. doi:10.1126/science.1163802. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 18988810.  
  6. ^ Witkowski, Jan (2016). "A Conversation with Anne Ferguson-Smith". Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology. 80: 321–323. doi:10.1101/sqb.2015.80.029983. ISSN 0091-7451. PMID 27325719.
  7. ^ Constância, Miguel; Hemberger, Myriam; Hughes, Jennifer; Dean, Wendy; Ferguson-Smith, Anne; Fundele, Reinald; Stewart, Francesca; Kelsey, Gavin; Fowden, Abigail; Sibley, Colin; Reik, Wolf (2002). "Placental-specific IGF-II is a major modulator of placental and fetal growth". Nature. 417 (6892): 945–948. doi:10.1038/nature00819. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 12087403.  
  8. ^ "Ferguson-Smith, Prof. Anne Carla". Who's Who 2018. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2017. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U263410. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  9. ^ Ferguson-Smith, Anne Carla (1989). A genomic analysis of the human homeobox gene loci HOX 1 and HOX 2 (PhD thesis). hdl:10079/bibid/9839056. OCLC 702620572. ProQuest 303744258.
  10. ^ Ferguson-Smith, A. C.; Cattanach, B. M.; Barton, S. C.; Beechey, C. V.; Surani, M. A. (1991). "Embryological and molecular investigations of parental imprinting on mouse chromosome 7". Nature. 351 (6328): 667–670. doi:10.1038/351667a0. PMID 2052093.  
  11. ^ Ferguson-Smith, Anne C.; Sasaki, Hiroyuki; Cattanach, Bruce M.; Surani, M. Azim (1993). "Parental-origin-specific epigenetic modification of the mouse H19 gene". Nature. 362 (6422): 751–755. doi:10.1038/362751a0. PMID 8469285.  
  12. ^ "Department of Physiology Development and Neuroscience".
  13. ^ Ferguson-Smith, Anne C. (2011). "Genomic imprinting: the emergence of an epigenetic paradigm". Nature Reviews Genetics. 12 (8): 565–575. doi:10.1038/nrg3032. PMID 21765458.  
  14. ^ Charalambous, Marika; Ferron, Sacramento R.; da Rocha, Simao T.; Murray, Andrew J.; Rowland, Timothy; Ito, Mitsuteru; Schuster-Gossler, Karin; Hernandez, Arturo; Ferguson-Smith, Anne C. (2012). "Imprinted gene dosage is critical for the transition to independent life". Cell Metabolism. 15 (2): 209–221. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2012.01.006. ISSN 1932-7420. PMC 3314949. PMID 22326222.
  15. ^ Ferrón, Sacri R.; Charalambous, Marika; Radford, Elizabeth; McEwen, Kirsten; Wildner, Hendrik; Hind, Eleanor; Morante-Redolat, Jose Manuel; Laborda, Jorge; Guillemot, Francois (2011). "Postnatal loss of Dlk1 imprinting in stem cells and niche astrocytes regulates neurogenesis". Nature. 475 (7356): 381–385. doi:10.1038/nature10229. ISSN 1476-4687. PMC 3160481. PMID 21776083.
  16. ^ "Genetics at Cambridge".
  17. ^ Miska, Eric A.; Ferguson-Smith, Anne C. (2016). "Transgenerational inheritance: Models and mechanisms of non-DNA sequence-based inheritance". Science. 354 (6308): 59–63. doi:10.1126/science.aaf4945. ISSN 1095-9203. PMID 27846492.  
  18. ^ "EMBO Member: Anne C. Ferguson-Smith".