Edith Heard

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Edith Heard
Born (1965-03-05) March 5, 1965 (age 52)[1]
Residence Paris, France
Nationality British
Alma mater
Website www.college-de-france.fr/site/en-edith-heard
Scientific career
Thesis Analysis of a gene amplification event in rat cells (1990)
Doctoral advisor Mike Fried

Edith Heard (born 1965)[1] FRS[3] is a British researcher in epigenetics[4], working in Paris, France. She is a Professor at the Collège de France, holding the Chair of Epigenetics and Cellular Memory, and since 2010 has been Director of the Genetics and Developmental Biology department at the Curie Institute (Paris), France. From January 2019, she will be Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). Heard is noted for her studies of X chromosome inactivation.[5][6][7][8][9][10]


Heard graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Natural Sciences (Genetics) from the University of Cambridge as a student of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, graduating in 1986. She was awarded a PhD from Imperial College London [11] for research investigating gene amplification in rat cells in 1990 while working at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratory in London, UK.[1]

Career and research[edit]

Heard's main areas of research include genetics, epigenetics and developmental biology,[2] in particular focussing on X-chromosome inactivation, which occurs when one of the two copies of the X chromosomes in female mammals is inactivated. Heard and her colleagues confirmed that X chromosome inactivation happens not once, but twice, during development: first in all cells designated to building the placenta, then again in some cells sent off to build the embryo.[12][13]

Heard has been a Professor at the Collège de France, holding the Chair of Epigenetics and Cellular Memory, and since 2010 has been director of the genetics and developmental biology department at the Institut Curie in Paris, France.[14]

In June 2017, Heard's appointment as the fifth Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory was announced, with her term scheduled to begin in January 2019.[5]

Honours and awards[edit]

In 2009 Heard received the Prix Jean Hamburger and the Grand Prix de la Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale in 2011. In 2013 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in recognition for her discoveries in epigenetics.[3] Her nomination reads:


  1. ^ a b c HEARD, Prof. Edith. ukwhoswho.com. Who's Who. 2017 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc.  closed access publication – behind paywall (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b "Edith Heard". The Academy of Europe. Archived from the original on 2013-11-10. 
  3. ^ a b c Anon (2013). "Professor Edith Heard FRS". royalsociety.org. London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05.  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the royalsociety.org website where:

    “All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 

  4. ^ Edith Heard publications from Europe PubMed Central
  5. ^ a b Noyes, Dan (2017-06-28). "EMBL Council selects next Director General". EMBL etc. Archived from the original on 2017-07-19. 
  6. ^ Edith Heard publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier. (subscription required)
  7. ^ Narita, M.; Nuñez, S.; Heard, E.; Narita, M.; Lin, A. W.; Hearn, S. A.; Spector, D. L.; Hannon, G. J.; Lowe, S. W. (2003). "Rb-Mediated Heterochromatin Formation and Silencing of E2F Target Genes during Cellular Senescence". Cell. 113 (6): 703–16. PMID 12809602. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(03)00401-X. 
  8. ^ Avner, P.; Heard, E. (2001). "X-chromosome inactivation: Counting, choice and initiation". Nature Reviews Genetics. 2 (1): 59–67. PMID 11253071. doi:10.1038/35047580. 
  9. ^ Heard, E.; Clerc, P.; Avner, P. (1997). "X-Chromosome Inactivation in Mammals". Annual Review of Genetics. 31: 571–610. doi:10.1146/annurev.genet.31.1.571. 
  10. ^ Heard, E.; Rougeulle, C.; Arnaud, D.; Avner, P.; Allis, C. D.; Spector, D. L. (2001). "Methylation of Histone H3 at Lys-9 is an Early Mark on the X Chromosome during X Inactivation". Cell. 107 (6): 727–738. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(01)00598-0. 
  11. ^ Heard, Edith (1990). Analysis of a gene amplification event in rat cells. ethos.bl.uk (PhD). Imperial College London. hdl:10044/1/46336. 
  12. ^ Heard, Edith (2013). "We can't undo what our parents have given us in terms of our genes'". theguardian.com. The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2016-12-25. 
  13. ^ Chow, J.; Heard, E. (2009). "X inactivation and the complexities of silencing a sex chromosome". Current Opinion in Cell Biology. 21 (3): 359–366. PMID 19477626. doi:10.1016/j.ceb.2009.04.012. 
  14. ^ "Group page at Institut Curie". Archived from the original on 2013-08-23.