News from EMBL
At its 53rd meeting, EMBL Council selected Edith Heard as the organisation’s fifth Director General. Heard’s mandate is scheduled to begin 1 January 2019. “I am extremely honoured to be offered this opportunity to serve European science as Director General of EMBL,” said Edith Heard. “As a deeply committed citizen of Europe, I will endeavour to promote the scientific excellence and service to the scientific community that characterise EMBL. EMBL represents a flagship for European research and is a model for the molecular life sciences worldwide. My ambition is to keep it at the forefront of international research and service provision, producing the leaders of the future and nurturing a spirit of research and training that is conducive to discovery and innovation. I intend to work very closely with EMBL’s Council and Scientific Advisory Committee, as well as the Heads of Units and group and team leaders, so that together we can elaborate the best plans of action for my leadership to be a success.”
Professor Heard is currently Director of the Genetics and Developmental Biology Unit at Institut Curie and holds the chair of Epigenetics and Cellular Memory at the Collège de France. Heard studied Natural Sciences at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, before going on to complete a PhD in cancer research at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London. Since then she has worked at the Institut Pasteur (Paris), Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (NY, USA) and the Institut Curie (Paris).
Heard’s areas of research include epigenetics and developmental biology and she has expertise in chromosome and RNA biology. Her team focuses on the process of X-chromosome inactivation, which occurs when one of the two X chromosomes present in all the cells in a woman’s body is silenced during development. Heard and her colleagues have shown that X-chromosome inactivation is highly dynamic during development and that it displays remarkable evolutionary diversity. Thanks to their work on the X chromosome, they also recently discovered a novel level of chromosome organisation: topologically associating domains (TADs), which are conserved units of chromosome folding and encompass gene regulatory landscapes.