Chris Higgins (academic)

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Christopher Francis Higgins
Born (1955-06-24) 24 June 1955 (age 62) [1]
Residence Durham, England
Nationality British
Alma mater Royal College of Music
Durham University
Children Five
Awards FRSE
EMBO member
Scientific career
Fields Genetics
Institutions Durham University
University of Oxford
Imperial College London
University of Dundee
Thesis Peptide transport by embryos of germinating barley, Hordeum vulgare (1979)
Doctoral advisor John W. Payne[2][3][4]

Christopher Francis Higgins FRSE FRSA FMedSci (born 24 June 1955) is a British molecular biologist, geneticist, academic and scientific advisor. He was the Vice-Chancellor of Durham University from 2007 to 2014. He took early retirement on 30 September 2014, following a discussion at Senate on limiting the powers of the Vice Chancellor.[5] He was previously the director of the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre and Head of Division in the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London.

Early life[edit]

Higgins was born on 24 June 1955 in Cambridge, England.[1][6] He studied botany at Grey College, Durham University, graduating with a first class degree in 1976.[7] He was awarded a PhD in 1979 for his study of peptide transporters in the embryos of germinating Barley.[3][4][8] Working at University of Dundee, his focus turned to genetics and cell biology.


Higgins was appointed Nuffield Professor of Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Oxford. He has published over 200 papers in leading scientific journals like Nature[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21] Science[22][23] and Cell.[24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32]

In April 2007, he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Durham University. He succeeded Sir Kenneth Calman and became the University's 23rd Vice-Chancellor.[8] He took early retirement on 30 September 2014, following a discussion at Senate on limiting the powers of the Vice Chancellor.[5]

Higgins has been recognised by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) as a 'Most Highly Cited' author. Further awards have been the CIBA Medal, Fleming Prize, and a Howard Hughes International Scholarship [33] along with election to Fellow of the European Molecular Biology Organization, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Society of Arts and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Alongside his academic success, Professor Higgins has also served as a scientific advisor for the House of Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research and advisor to the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology. At present Higgins is the chair of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, International Review Panel, DKFZ (German National Cancer Centre, Heidelberg) and a trustee of the Kennedy Institute for Rheumatology.

Personal life[edit]

Higgins is not currently married, although he has been married twice. He has five daughters, two from his first marriage and three from the second.[6]


  1. ^ a b "'HIGGINS, Prof. Christopher Francis'" (Who's Who 2013, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2013; online edn, Oxford University Press). (subscription required)
  2. ^ Higgins, C. F.; Payne, J. W. (1981). "The Peptide pools of germinating barley grains: Relation to hydrolysis and transport of storage proteins". Plant Physiology. 67 (4): 785–792. doi:10.1104/pp.67.4.785. PMC 425773Freely accessible. PMID 16661755. 
  3. ^ a b Higgins, C. F.; Payne, J. W. (1978). "Peptide transport by germinating barley embryos: Evidence for a single common carrier for di- and oligopeptides". Planta. 138 (3): 217–221. doi:10.1007/BF00386814. PMID 24414049. 
  4. ^ a b Higgins, Chris (2012). Peptide transport by embryos of germinating barley, Hordeum vulgare (PhD thesis). Durham University. 
  5. ^ a b Tallentire, Mark (5 March 2014). "Durham University vice-chancellor to retire in September". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Keating, Matt (29 May 2007). "Christopher Higgins: Notes from a small university". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "Vice-Chancellor". Durham University. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Durham welcomes new Vice Chancellor Durham University; 14-04-2007; accessed 23-04-2007
  9. ^ Higgins, C. F. (2007). "Multiple molecular mechanisms for multidrug resistance transporters". Nature. 446 (7137): 749–757. doi:10.1038/nature05630. PMID 17429392. 
  10. ^ Van Veen, H. W.; Callaghan, R.; Soceneantu, L.; Sardini, A.; Konings, W. N.; Higgins, C. F. (1998). "A bacterial antibiotic-resistance gene that complements the human multidrug-resistance P-glycoprotein gene". Nature. 391 (6664): 291–295. doi:10.1038/34669. PMID 9440694. 
  11. ^ Moxon, E. R.; Higgins, C. F. (1997). "E. Coli genome sequence. A blueprint for life". Nature. 389 (6647): 120–121. doi:10.1038/38107. PMID 9296482. 
  12. ^ Py, B. A.; Higgins, C. F.; Krisch, H. M.; Carpousis, A. J. (1996). "A DEAD-box RNA helicase in the Escherichia coli RNA degradosome". Nature. 381 (6578): 169–172. doi:10.1038/381169a0. PMID 8610017. 
  13. ^ Hyde, S. C.; Gill, D. R.; Higgins, C. F.; Trezise, A. E. O.; MacVinish, L. J.; Cuthbert, A. W.; Ratcliff, R.; Evans, M. J.; Colledge, W. H. (1993). "Correction of the ion transport defect in cystic fibrosis transgenic mice by gene therapy". Nature. 362 (6417): 250–255. doi:10.1038/362250a0. PMID 7681548. 
  14. ^ Valverde, M. A.; Díaz, M.; Sepúlveda, F. V.; Gill, D. R.; Hyde, S. C.; Higgins, C. F. (1992). "Volume-regulated chloride channels associated with the human multidrug-resistance P-glycoprotein". Nature. 355 (6363): 830–833. doi:10.1038/355830a0. PMID 1371598. 
  15. ^ Higgins, C. F.; Hyde, S. C. (1991). "Channelling our thoughts". Nature. 352 (6332): 194–195. doi:10.1038/352194a0. PMID 1713302. 
  16. ^ Hyde, S. C.; Emsley, P.; Hartshorn, M. J.; Mimmack, M. M.; Gileadi, U.; Pearce, S. R.; Gallagher, M. P.; Gill, D. R.; Hubbard, R. E.; Higgins, C. F. (1990). "Structural model of ATP-binding proteing associated with cystic fibrosis, multidrug resistance and bacterial transport". Nature. 346 (6282): 362–365. doi:10.1038/346362a0. PMID 1973824. 
  17. ^ Dorman, C. J.; Bhriain, N. N.; Higgins, C. F. (1990). "DNA supercoiling and environmental regulation of virulence gene expression in Shigella flexneri". Nature. 344 (6268): 789–792. doi:10.1038/344789a0. PMID 2184366. 
  18. ^ Higgins, C. F.; Hiles, I. D.; Salmond, G. P. C.; Gill, D. R.; Downie, J. A.; Evans, I. J.; Holland, I. B.; Gray, L.; Buckel, S. D.; Bell, A. W.; Hermodson, M. A. (1986). "A family of related ATP-binding subunits coupled to many distinct biological processes in bacteria". Nature. 323 (6087): 448–450. doi:10.1038/323448a0. PMID 3762694. 
  19. ^ Manson, M. D.; Blank, V.; Brade, G.; Higgins, C. F. (1986). "Peptide chemotaxis in E. Coli involves the Tap signal transducer and the dipeptide permease". Nature. 321 (6067): 253–256. doi:10.1038/321253a0. PMID 3520334. 
  20. ^ Higgins, C. F.; Ames, G. F.; Barnes, W. M.; Clement, J. M.; Hofnung, M. (1982). "A novel intercistronic regulatory element of prokaryotic operons". Nature. 298 (5876): 760–762. doi:10.1038/298760a0. PMID 7110312. 
  21. ^ Higgins, C. F.; Haag, P. D.; Nikaido, K.; Ardeshir, F.; Garcia, G.; Ames, G. F. (1982). "Complete nucleotide sequence and identification of membrane components of the histidine transport operon of S. Typhimurium". Nature. 298 (5876): 723–727. doi:10.1038/298723a0. PMID 7050725. 
  22. ^ Higgins, C. F.; Linton, K. J. (2001). "STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY: The xyz of ABC Transporters". Science. 293 (5536): 1782–1784. doi:10.1126/science.1065588. PMID 11546861. 
  23. ^ Tame, J. R.; Murshudov, G. N.; Dodson, E. J.; Neil, T. K.; Dodson, G. G.; Higgins, C. F.; Wilkinson, A. J. (1994). "The structural basis of sequence-independent peptide binding by OppA protein". Science. 264 (5165): 1578–1581. doi:10.1126/science.8202710. PMID 8202710. 
  24. ^ Higgins, C. F. (1995). "The ABC of channel regulation". Cell. 82 (5): 693–696. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(95)90465-4. PMID 7671298. 
  25. ^ Higgins, C. F. (1994). "Flip-flop: The transmembrane translocation of lipids". Cell. 79 (3): 393–395. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(94)90248-8. PMID 7954806. 
  26. ^ Owen-Hughes, T. A.; Pavitt, G. D.; Santos, D. S.; Sidebotham, J. M.; Hulton, C. S.; Hinton, J. C.; Higgins, C. F. (1992). "The chromatin-associated protein H-NS interacts with curved DNA to influence DNA topology and gene expression". Cell. 71 (2): 255–265. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(92)90354-F. PMID 1423593. 
  27. ^ Gill, D. R.; Hyde, S. C.; Higgins, C. F.; Valverde, M. A.; Mintenig, G. M.; Sepúlveda, F. V. (1992). "Separation of drug transport and chloride channel functions of the human multidrug resistance P-glycoprotein". Cell. 71 (1): 23–32. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(92)90263-C. PMID 1382860. 
  28. ^ Hulton, C. S.; Seirafi, A.; Hinton, J. C.; Sidebotham, J. M.; Waddell, L.; Pavitt, G. D.; Owen-Hughes, T.; Spassky, A.; Buc, H.; Higgins, C. F. (1990). "Histone-like protein H1 (H-NS), DNA supercoiling, and gene expression in bacteria". Cell. 63 (3): 631–642. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(90)90458-Q. PMID 2171779. 
  29. ^ Higgins, C. F.; Dorman, C. J.; Stirling, D. A.; Waddell, L.; Booth, I. R.; May, G.; Bremer, E. (1988). "A physiological role for DNA supercoiling in the osmotic regulation of gene expression in S. Typhimurium and E. Coli". Cell. 52 (4): 569–584. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(88)90470-9. PMID 2830029. 
  30. ^ Newbury, S. F.; Smith, N. H.; Higgins, C. F. (1987). "Differential mRNA stability controls relative gene expression within a polycistronic operon". Cell. 51 (6): 1131–1143. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(87)90599-X. PMID 2446776. 
  31. ^ Newbury, S. F.; Smith, N. H.; Robinson, E. C.; Hiles, I. D.; Higgins, C. F. (1987). "Stabilization of translationally active mRNA by prokaryotic REP sequences". Cell. 48 (2): 297–310. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(87)90433-8. PMID 2433046. 
  32. ^ Stern, M. J.; Ames, G. F.; Smith, N. H.; Robinson, E. C.; Higgins, C. F. (1984). "Repetitive extragenic palindromic sequences: A major component of the bacterial genome". Cell. 37 (3): 1015–1026. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(84)90436-7. PMID 6378385. 
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-21.  Human Genetics Commission Website
Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Kenneth Calman
Warden and Vice-Chancellor of Durham University
2007–September 2014
Succeeded by
Stuart Corbridge