About this event

  • Date and time Mon 10 Jun 2019 from 8:30am to 5:30pm
  • Location Royal Society of Medicine
  • Organised by Medical Genetics

This conference will provide detailed updates in the exciting field of Epigenetics, focusing on how chemical modifications to our DNA can shape our health from conception to old age from one generation to the next. Epigenetics is emerging as a key player in medicine.

The topics discussed will provide an unparalleled opportunity for those wishing to learn more about the fascinating world of epigenetics with an exciting and engaging overview of its past, present and potential future impact upon our understanding of health and disease.

Common unexplained questions such as; how does nature compete with nurture? Why aren’t identical twins actually identical? What elements in our epigenomes affect the health of our children? Can a better understanding of this fascinating field provide those missing parts of the aetiology puzzle? Will be explored and discussed. 

Leading experts in the field of epigenetic research will present, discuss, debate and answer questions on its increasing relevance within a diverse range of clinical disciplines, as well as sharing their inspirational work that has granted them international renown.

Topics include:

  • Understanding epigenetics and the role of chemical modifications to DNA in shaping health and disease
  • Exploring our increasing appreciation of the impact of epigenetics upon a diverse range of biological processes and diseases, from cancer to mental health
  • Recognising the increasing importance of developing an understanding of epigenetics in clinical practice
  • Discussing the role of epigenetics in developmental programming and the bridge between nature and nurture

Whether possessed of an existing clinical or research interest in epigenetics or completely new to the subject, all are welcome at this event.

Key speakers

Professor Wolf Reik

Professor Wolf Reik

Molecular Biologist, Senior Group Leader and Associate Director at the Babraham Institute, Professor of Epigenetics at the University of Cambridge and Associate Faculty at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Speaker's biography

Professor Wolf Reik's current research focuses on epigenetic heterogeneity in development and ageing, making use of single cell genomics. He is a founding member of the Single Cell Genomics Centre since 2013.  

Professor Reik obtained his MD from the University of Hamburg, and was an EMBO and Lister Institute Fellow in Cambridge, before becoming Head of the Epigenetics Programme and Associate Director at the Babraham Institute. He is also honorary Professor of Epigenetics at the University of Cambridge.

Professor Reik is an EMBO and Academia Europaea member, and a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Professor Stephan Beck

Professor Stephan Beck

Professor of Medical Genomics at the University College London (UCL) Cancer Institute

Speaker's biography

Stephan Beck PhD FMedSci is Professor of Medical Genomics at the University College London (UCL) Cancer Institute. Using experimental and computational approaches, his laboratory has broad interests in the genomics and epigenomics of phenotypic plasticity in health and disease. He has over 30 years experience in high-throughput genomics and has co-authored over 350 publications that have attracted over 65,000 citations to date. 

Sir Adrian Bird

Professor Sir Adrian Bird

Buchanan Chair of Genetics at the University of Edinburgh

Speaker's biography

Sir Bird holds the Buchanan Chair of Genetics at the University of Edinburgh. In addition he is the Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology in Edinburgh and a Governor of the Wellcome Trust. Over the past twenty five years he has made a series of seminal contributions to our understanding of DNA methylation and the medical and biological significance of this key form of DNA modification.

He was awarded the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine in 1999.

Dr Nessa Carey (1)

Dr Nessa Carey

Biologist working in the field of molecular biology and biotechnology

Speaker's biography

Dr Carey has a virology PhD from the University of Edinburgh and is a former Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biology at Imperial College, London. She worked in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry for thirteen years and now splits her professional time between providing consultancy services to some of the UK's leading research institutions, and training people around the world in how to create benefits for society from basic research.


View the programme

Registration, tea and coffee
Welcome and introduction

Dr Melita Irving, Consultant Clinical Geneticist, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and President, Medical Genetics Section, Royal Society of Medicine

Getting up close and personal with epigenetics in health and disease

Professor Stephan Beck, Professor of Medical Genomics, University College London

Questions and answers session
Histone lysine methylation in developmental disorders and malformations

Dr Siddharth Banka, Senior Clinical Lecturer and Consultant Clinical Geneticist, University of Manchester and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Questions and answers session
Tea and coffee break
Epigenetics and neuropsychiatric phenotypes

Professor Jonathan Mill, Professor of Epigenetics, University of Exeter Medical School, and Group Lead, Psychiatric Epigenetics Group, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurology, King’s College London

Questions and answers session
Epigenetics and primary care

Dr David Lehane, NIHR Clinical Lecturer and GP, Academic Unit of Primary Care, University of Sheffield

Questions and answers session
Epigenetics - What are the big questions?

Dr Nessa Carey, Visiting ProfessorImperial College London

Questions and answers session

AGM for section members

Exploring the epigenetic landscape of the germ line and early embryo

Dr Gavin Kelsey, Group Leader, Babraham Institute, University of Cambridge 

Questions and answers session
Epigenetics and development programming

Professor Karen A Lilycrop, Professor of Epigenetics, University of Southampton

Questions and answers session
Pluripotency and germ cell fate determination

Professor Azim Surani – Director of Germline & Epigenomics Research, Wellcome Trust, and Professor of Epigenetics, University of Cambridge

Questions and answer session
Epigenetic adaptation as driver of cancer treatment failure

Professor Robert Brown, Professor of Translational Oncology, Imperial College London

Questions and answers session
Tea and coffee break
Keynote lecture: The genetics and epigenetics of Rett Syndrome

Professor Sir Adrian Bird, Buchanan Professor of Genetics, Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh

Questions and answers session
Panel discussion

Dr Melita Irving, Professor Stephan Beck, Professor Nessa Carey, Professor Sir Adrian Bird FRS

Professor Rebecca Oakey, Professor of Epigenetics, Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, King’s College London 

Professor Richard Gibbons, Professor of Clinical Genetics, University of Oxford, and Consultant Clinical Geneticist, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Professor Idriss Bennani-Baiti, President, Cancer Epigenetics Society

Closing remarks

Dr Melita Irving

Close of meeting


Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole St, Marylebone, London, W1G 0AE, United Kingdom