Veronique Azuara
  • PhD in Immunology, Pasteur Institute – Paris, 1999.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow in Epigenetics, MRC Clinical Sciences Centre – London, 1999-2005.
  • Joined Imperial College in November 2005 as Lecturer and Head of the Epigenetics and Development Group at the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology. Promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2012.
  • Awarded a MRC Collaborative Career Development Award in Stem Cell Research, 2004-2007 and a BBSRC New Investigator Award in Genes and Developmental Biology, 2009-2012.
  • Two career breaks in the form of maternity leave: from November 2006 to April 2007 and from February 2011 to September 2011.

Epigenetics and stem cell biology
Dr Véronique Azuara and her colleagues investigate how the DNA genetic code, which is identical in all of an individual’s cells, can be influenced to produce the wide variety of tissues that make up our body.

Liver, nerves or blood cells are produced in a reproducible pattern in every person, but how this is regulated is poorly understood. It is now clear that the proteins which organise the DNA (into ‘chromatin’) varies in different cell types, so understanding the regulation of this process will show how cells differentiate and develop normally or abnormally.

A major focus of her current research is understanding how genetic information is organised in stem cells. Embryonic stem (ES) cells, the cells which eventually make all the different tissues in the body, are remarkable because they can either self-renew or give rise to many different cell types. But in the process of generating different cell types, a stem cell must alter the structural organisation (i.e. chromatin) of its DNA code. Veronique’s research group is attempting to unravel the unique chromatin ‘make-up’ of embryonic ES cells and their counterparts in the early embryo that provides them with flexibility and unlimited cell fate options. Understanding how a cell identity is defined in the course of development is not only of intrinsic interest in basic science, but it will also help us to understand how a cell identity might be lost or changed in the case of many diseases, including cancers and abnormalities of pregnancy.

Tomaz RA, Harman JL, Karimlou D, et al., 2017, Jmjd2c facilitates the assembly of essential enhancer-protein complexes at the onset of embryonic stem cell differentiationDEVELOPMENT, Vol: 144, Pages: 567-579, ISSN: 0950-1991

Rayon T, Menchero S, Rollan I et al., 2016, Distinct mechanisms regulate Cdx2 expression in the blastocyst and in trophoblast stem cellsSCIENTIFIC REPORTS, Vol: 6, ISSN: 2045-2322