Professor Darren Griffin

Professor of Genetics
Director, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Reproduction

About

Professor Darren Griffin received his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Science degrees from the University of Manchester and his PhD from University College London. After postdoctoral stints at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Cambridge he landed his first academic post at Brunel University, before settling at the University of Kent, where he’s been for the last 15+ years. He has worked under the mentorship of Professors Joy Delhanty, Christine Harrison, Terry Hassold, Alan Handyside and Malcolm Ferguson-Smith.
He is President of the International Chromosome and Genome Society, a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, the Royal Society of Biology and the Royal Society of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce. He sits on the faculty of CoGen (controversies in genetics) and has previously sat on the board of the Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis International Society (PGDIS), organising its annual meeting in 2014.
Darren is a world leader in cytogenetics. He performed the first successful cytogenetic preimplantation genetic diagnosis (sexing of IVF embryos) and, more recently, played a significant role in the development of Karyomapping a universal test for genetic disease in IVF, an approach he now applies to cattle. In a 30+ year scientific research career he has co-authored over 200 scientific publications, mainly on the cytogenetics of reproduction and evolution, most recently providing insight into the karyotypes of dinosaurs.
He is a prolific science communicator, making every effort to make scientific research publicly accessible (both his own and others) and is an enthusiastic proponent for the benefits of interdisciplinary research endeavour. He has supervised over 35 PhD students to completion and his work appears consistently in the national and international news. He currently runs a vibrant research lab of about 20 people (including a programme of externally supervised students) and maintains commercial interests in the outcomes of research findings, liaising with companies in the agricultural sector in the area of fertility screening. 

Darren is a member of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Reproduction (CISoR) 
He also regularly coordinates the International Chromosome Conferences and the Pig Breeders’ Round Table

Research Career 

  • 2013 Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA)
  • 2011-present President - International Chromosome and Genome Society (VP from 2008) 
  • 2008 Doctor of Science (DSc), University of Manchester 
  • 2007 Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath) 
  • 2002 Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Brunel University (PGCertHE) 
  • 2000 Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (CBiol, FRSB) 
  • 1992 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Human Genetics, University College London 
  • 1988 Bachelor of Science (BSc), Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Manchester 

ORCID: 0000-0001-7595-3226 

Research interests

The purpose of research in the Griffin lab is to make a significant contribution at the interface of molecular cytogenetics and genomics to the understanding of chromosome behaviour in an individual and evolutionary context. The research is highly impact driven with an aim to make key breakthroughs to advance diagnostics and improve agriculture. A key focus is widespread education and public engagement, both of the research findings and of the field in general.
Gross Genomic Changes in Human Gametes and Embryos Following early work performing the world’s first cytogenetic preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) case we operate a network of research activities with IVF units (e.g. London Women’s Clinic) and diagnostic companies such as Cooper and Igenomix. We played a significant role in developing “Karyomapping” a universal test for the diagnosis of genetic disease in human preimplantation embryos, which has been used to treat >10,000 patients. We are addressing fundamental questions about the incidence and origin and aetiology of chromosome abnormalities gametes and embryos and have a number of PhD candidates in Kent and around the world.
Non-Human IVF and Preimplantation Genetic Testing We established a pig and cattle IVF facility designed to generate genotyped IVF embryos, partly as a means of improving food production and also as a model to understand human IVF. Optimisation of protocols currently available for the production of cattle and pig embryos would be highly beneficial to the national and international breeding industry, as this technology has the potential to multiply the offspring of genetically superior animals thereby improving the production and selection of more efficient livestock.
Genome Reconstruction, Evolution & Comparative Cytogenomics of Terrestrial Vertebrates Drawing on initial work distinguishing avian chromosomes (particularly those too tiny to differentiate by classical means), we developed a means of taking sub-chromosomal sized scaffold-based assemblies and “upgrading” them to chromosome-level at a fraction of the cost. It has a number of applications in comparative genomics, developmental biology, molecular ecology, genome organization, and agriculture. Our research is currently focussed on generating chromosome-level assemblies in a range of avian, mammalian and reptilian species, studying the role of chromosome evolution. This has led to highly publicized studies, determining the overall genome structure (karyotype) of dinosaurs. 

Enterprise Activity in Genomic Screening See profile for Dr Becky O’Connor
Genomic and Cross-disciplinary Applications to the Poultry Industry See profile for Dr Mike Romanov 

Publicity, Broadcast and Outreach An increasing interest of the group has been education and publicity:

On “being a successful scientist”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F1ee3lFBWohttps://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/careers/college-to-career/video/successful-scientist-part1.html
 
http://blogs.nature.com/naturejobs/2011/01/31/how-to-be-a-successful-scientist/ 

https://www.sciencemag.org/custom-publishing/webinars/finding-your-way-science-and-psychology-success

Articles for “The Conversation”
https://theconversation.com/profiles/darren-griffin-436118/articles

Pallab Ghosh (BBC) covering our work on dinosaur evolution
https://www.dropbox.com/s/td7mzwvwb6j0buv/BBC_News_Channel-2018-08-26_16-24-11.mp4?dl=0 

“YouNome– your genome in 25 self-portraits” https://keithrobinsonpainting.com/Younome 

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