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Blizard Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Professor Vardhman Rakyan, PhD, BSc (Hons) Biochemistry (University of Sydney)



Centre: Genomics and Child Health

Telephone: 020 7882 8140
Twitter: @Rakyan_Lab


For my PhD (1999-2002) I investigated epigenetic inheritance under the supervision of Prof. Emma Whitelaw, University of Sydney, Australia. From 2003-2007, I was a CJ Martin Postdoctoral Fellow at the Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK; where, under the guidance of Dr Stephan Beck, I developed functional genomics tools for genome-wide DNA methylation analyses. I joined QMUL as a Lecturer in 2007.



PBLs, SSC, MBBS academic advisor, Experimental Pathology Research Project advisor



Research Interests:

The overall goals of the lab are to understand how typically overlooked parts of the genome influence mammalian phenotypes. Within this context, we are currently interested in genetic variation within the Ribosomal DNA that codes for the rRNA components of the mature ribosome. In mammals, rRNAs are coded by the 5S and 47S rDNA loci. The latter is a multi-copy, multi-locus element that codes for the 18S, 5.8S and 28S rRNAs. Interestingly, the 47S rDNA displays substantial inter-individual genetic variation in the form of copy number (CN, ~100-600 copies) and single nucleotide variants (SNVs) in human populations. However, as rDNA is not represented on array or exome capture platforms, genome-scale studies of human traits have thus far ignored rDNA genetic variation. We pursue several complementary lines of investigation that integrate molecular genomics, computational biology, mouse models, and human cohorts to understand the role of rDNA genetic and epigenetic variation in complex phenotypes and diseases.
Research Group
  • Francisco Rodriguez Algarra


Key Publications

Genetic variation at mouse and human ribosomal DNA influences associated epigenetic states.
Rodriguez-Algarra F, Seaborne RAE, Danson AF, Yildizoglu S, Yoshikawa H, Law PP, Ahmad Z, Maudsley VA, Brew A, Holmes N, Ochôa M, Hodgkinson A, Marzi SJ, Pradeepa MM, Loose M, Holland ML, Rakyan VK.
Genome Biol. 2022 Feb 14;23(1):54. 

Ageing-associated DNA methylation dynamics are a molecular readout of lifespan variation among mammalian species.
Lowe R, Barton C, Jenkins CA, Ernst C, Forman O, Fernandez-Twinn DS, Bock C, Rossiter SJ, Faulkes CG, Ozanne SE, Walter L, Odom DT, Mellersh C, Rakyan VK.
Genome Biol. 2018 Feb 16;19(1):22. 

Early-life nutrition modulates the epigenetic state of specific rDNA genetic variants in mice.
Holland ML, Lowe R, Caton PW, Gemma C, Carbajosa G, Danson AF, Carpenter AA, Loche E, Ozanne SE, Rakyan VK.
Science. 2016 Jul 29;353(6298):495-8. 

Epigenome-wide association studies for common human diseases.
Rakyan VK, Down TA, Balding DJ, Beck S.
Nat Rev Genet. 2011 Jul 12;12(8):529-41. 
Human aging-associated DNA hypermethylation occurs preferentially at bivalent chromatin domains.
Rakyan VK, Down TA, Maslau S, Andrew T, Yang TP, Beyan H, Whittaker P, McCann OT, Finer S, Valdes AM, Leslie RD, Deloukas P, Spector TD.
Genome Res. 2010 Apr;20(4):434-9

All Publications

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