Academic Profile : No longer with NTU

Prof Philip William Ingham.jpg picture
Prof Philip William Ingham
Professor, Developmental Biology, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
Professor, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
• Ms Kanmani Saminathan, Research Officer

Philip Ingham is Professor of Developmental Biology at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine. He graduated in Natural Sciences, specialising in Genetics, from the University of Cambridge in 1977 and completed research for his doctoral degree at the University of Sussex (UK) in 1980. During this time he discovered and characterised the trithorax gene in Drosophila, showing that it is a key mediator of cell memory. After post-doctoral research at the Laboratoire de Génétique Moleculaire des Eukaryotes in Strasbourg, France and at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) in London, he established his own independent research group in 1986 at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge before moving to the ICRF Developmental Biology Unit in Oxford. His group cloned the Drosophila patched and smoothened genes and showed that they encode the receptor and transducer of the signalling protein Hedgehog. In 1993, in collaboration with Cliff Tabin (Harvard Medical School) and Andrew McMahon (Harvard University), his group discovered the vertebrate Hedgehog family of signalling proteins and adduced the first evidence of their role in patterning the central nervous system (recognised as one of the “24 Milestones in Development” of the past century by the journal Nature in 2004).

Prof Ingham has published over 190 papers, many in top-ranking journals, including ten “Citation Classics” (as defined by Google Scholar). He is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) and the Academia Europae, a Fellow of the Royal Society and the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. He was awarded the Genetics Society (Great Britain) Medal in 2005 and the Waddington Medal, the only national award in developmental biology in the UK, in 2014.

He has served on the advisory panels of a number of international funding bodies including the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong University Grants Committee, the European Research Council (ERC), the Wellcome Trust, the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Human Frontiers of Science Programme (HFSP). He was President of the International Society of Developmental Biologists from 2013-2017 and of the International Zebrafish Society from 2019-20. He is an editorial board member of a number of journals, including Developmental Cell and Development and is Head of the Developmental Biology Faculty for the online reviews journal Faculty of 1000. He has served on the External Scientific Advisory Boards of a number of institutions including the Max-Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim, Germany, the Sars Centre for Molecular Marine Biology in Bergen, Norway and INOVA4Health in Lisbon, Portugal.
Prof Ingham’s lab uses the genetically tractable tropical fish Danio rerio patched (commonly known as the zebrafish) as a model system in which to analyse complex biological processes in the context of the whole organism. Zebrafish not only offer exceptional opportunities for in vivo imaging, genetic manipulation analysis and high throughput drug screening, but also address the aims of the 3Rs – Reduction, Refinement, Replacement - in animal research.

Intercellular Signalling by Hedgehog Family Proteins
The lab’s long-standing interest in the Hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathway is of direct relevance to human disease. Hh proteins control a variety of processes, both during embryonic development as well as post-embryonically, for instance in tissue homeostasis and physiological processes such as pain perception and glucose metabolism. Not surprisingly, dysfunction of the Hh pathway underlies many clinical conditions. We aim to understand the complexities of Hh signalling through the in vivo functional analysis of its various components, using the zebrafish as a model. The knowledge generated in this way will continue to contribute to the development of novel therapeutics for cancer, algesia and metabolic disorders.

Muscle development, homeostasis and disease
Skeletal muscle is a major component of vertebrate anatomy, making up around 40-50% of the body mass of a human and around 80% of that of a fish. We exploit the many advantages of the zebrafish to analyse the specification, differentiation and function of skeletal muscle cells. One focus is on the commitment of cells to form the physiologically distinct muscle cell fibre-types: we have elucidated a regulatory network that integrates the activities of signalling factors, transcription factors and micro RNAs (miRs) in the specification of slow-twitch muscle fibres in the developing embryo. A second focus is on the control of muscle fibre differentiation: we have uncovered a role in sarcomere assembly for an unconventional myosin, mutations of which are associated with nemaline myopathies in human. Together, these studies illustrate the power of the zebrafish as a model system for understanding the mechanistic basis of human myopathies and for uncovering the pathways of specification that can be exploited in regenerative medicine. Our ongoing research aims to uncover the epigenetic and metabolic changes associate with skeletal muscle adaptation and ageing.
  • Acquisition of Scientific Equipment to Support Strategic Research at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
  • Centre for Human Organ Systems Emulation (CeHOrSE)
  • Next-generation human organoids: Characterization, isolation and combinatorial re-assembly of niche components
  • Next-generation human organoids: Characterization, isolation and combinatorial re-assembly of niche components (Foo Jia Nee)
  • Next-generation human organoids: Characterization, isolation and combinatorial re-assembly of niche components (Philip Ingham)
  • Next-generation human organoids: Characterization, isolation and combinatorial re-assembly of niche components (Yen Choo)
Genetics Society Medal 2005
Waddington Medal 2014
Fellowships & Other Recognition
Academy of Medical Sciences (2001)
Royal Society (2002)
Royal College of Physicians (Honorary) (2007)