Veronica van Heyningen

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Veronica van Heyningen

Veronica Daniel

(1946-11-12) 12 November 1946 (age 74)[1]
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom (naturalised)
Alma mater
Simon van Heyningen
(m. 1968)
AwardsEMBO Member (2002)[2]
Scientific career
ThesisMitochondrial and other enzymes in somatic cell hybrids (1973)
Doctoral advisorWalter Bodmer[7]
InfluencedSarah Teichmann[8]

Veronica van Heyningen CBE FRS FRSE FMedSci FRSB (née Daniel; born 12 November 1946)[1] is an English geneticist who specialises in the etiology of anophthalmia as an honorary professor at University College London (UCL).[9][10][7][6] She previously served as head of medical genetics at the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh and the president of The Genetics Society.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17] In 2014 she became president of the Galton Institute. As of 2019 she chairs the diversity committee of the Royal Society, previously chaired by Uta Frith.[18]


van Heyningen studied the Natural Sciences Tripos at the University of Cambridge, and was an undergraduate at Girton College, Cambridge where she specialised in genetics. She moved to Northwestern University where she was awarded a Master of Science degree.[1] She completed her Doctor of Philosophy degree[19] at the University of Oxford where she worked on early gene mapping studies using somatic cell hybrids, with Walter Bodmer.[7]

Career and research[edit]

van Heyningen is a geneticist who studies eye development and disease. Among her research highlights is the discovery of the PAX6 gene, which is mutated in the eye disorder aniridia — the absence of the iris.[20] PAX6 also coordinates the expression of other eye development genes, including the SOX2 and Orthodenticle homeobox 2 (OTX2) genes which are mutated in microphthalmia and anophthalmia.[20] In the context of PAX6, she has explored in detail mechanisms of long-range gene regulation and aspects of phenotype variation.[20] van Heyningen served as a member of the UK Human Genetics Commission.[20]

Awards and honours[edit]

She has received many awards in recognition of her work, including being appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to science in the 2010 Birthday Honours.[21] She was awarded the Carter Medal of the Clinical Genetics Society in 2011.[20] She served as President of the European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG) in 2003 and of The Genetics Society from 2009 to 2012.[20] Other awards include:

Personal life[edit]

In 1968 she married Simon van Heyningen.[1] She was interviewed by Jim Al-Khalili on The Life Scientific in 2014.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Anon (2017). "Van Heyningen, Prof. Veronica". Who's Who. (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U245983. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b "Find people in the EMBO Communities". Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  3. ^ Kleinjan, D. A.; Van Heyningen, V (2005). "Long-range control of gene expression: Emerging mechanisms and disruption in disease". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 76 (1): 8–32. doi:10.1086/426833. PMC 1196435. PMID 15549674.
  4. ^ Ericson, J; Rashbass, P; Schedl, A; Brenner-Morton, S; Kawakami, A; Van Heyningen, V; Jessell, T. M.; Briscoe, J (1997). "Pax6 controls progenitor cell identity and neuronal fate in response to graded Shh signaling". Cell. 90 (1): 169–80. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(00)80323-2. PMID 9230312. S2CID 17054686.
  5. ^ Veronica van Heyningen publications from Europe PubMed Central
  6. ^ a b Veronica van Heyningen publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  7. ^ a b c Veronica Van Heyningen Official website Edit this at Wikidata
  8. ^ Gaskell & Kostic. "The Unstoppable Sarah Teichmann on Programing, Motherhood, and Protein Complex Assembly:The Female Scientist". Archived from the original on 15 April 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  9. ^ Veronica van Heyningen's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  10. ^ a b "Veronica van Heyningen, The Life Scientific - BBC Radio 4". BBC.
  11. ^ "Medical Research Council". Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  12. ^ Hill, R. E.; Favor, J; Hogan, B. L.; Ton, C. C.; Saunders, G. F.; Hanson, I. M.; Prosser, J; Jordan, T; Hastie, N. D.; Van Heyningen, V (1991). "Mouse small eye results from mutations in a paired-like homeobox-containing gene". Nature. 354 (6354): 522–5. Bibcode:1991Natur.354..522H. doi:10.1038/354522a0. PMID 1684639. S2CID 4317526.
  13. ^ Pritchard-Jones, K; Fleming, S; Davidson, D; Bickmore, W; Porteous, D; Gosden, C; Bard, J; Buckler, A; Pelletier, J; Housman, D; Van Heyningen, Veronica; Hastie, Nicholas (1990). "The candidate Wilms' tumour gene is involved in genitourinary development". Nature. 346 (6280): 194–7. Bibcode:1990Natur.346..194P. doi:10.1038/346194a0. PMID 2164159. S2CID 4350729.
  14. ^ Ton, C. C.; Hirvonen, H; Miwa, H; Weil, M. M.; Monaghan, P; Jordan, T; Van Heyningen, V; Hastie, N. D.; Meijers-Heijboer, H; Drechsler, M (1991). "Positional cloning and characterization of a paired box- and homeobox-containing gene from the aniridia region" (PDF). Cell. 67 (6): 1059–74. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(91)90284-6. hdl:2027.42/28976. PMID 1684738. S2CID 34641827.
  15. ^ "Imortalized Cell Lines", Chromosome analysis protocols, Editor John R. Gosden, Humana Press, 1994, ISBN 978-0-89603-243-9
  16. ^ "Developmental biology", Doctors to the genome: from conception to maturity], Editors Ieuan A. Hughes, Mark Gardiner, Royal College of Physicians, 1998, ISBN 978-1-86016-078-3
  17. ^ Long-Range Control of Gene Expression, Editors Veronica Van Heyningen, Robert E. Hill, Academic Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-12-373881-3
  18. ^ Frith, Uta (2019). "Goodbye Diversity Committee". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 11 February 2019.
  19. ^ van Heyningen, Veronica (1973). Mitochondrial and other Enzymes in Somatic Cell Hybrids. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 500471367. . Free to read
  20. ^ a b c d e f g Anon (2007). "Professor Veronica van Heyningen CBE FMedSci FRS". London: Royal Society. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the 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 at the Wayback Machine (archived 2016-11-11)

  21. ^ "No. 59446". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2010. p. 8.
  22. ^ "Professor Veronica van Heyningen CBE, FRS, FRSE, FREng, FMedSci". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. 19 May 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  23. ^ "Professor Veronica van Heyningen - The Academy of Medical Sciences". Retrieved 11 February 2019.