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Philip Ingham

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Professor Philip W. Ingham
FRS, FMedSci, Hon. FRCP
Toh Kian Chui Distinguished Professor and Professor of Developmental Biology  
Principal Investigator, Developmental Genetics Laboratory


  • Dr Sowjanya Kallakuri, PhD, Research Fellow
  • Ms Kanmani Saminathan, Research Officer


Philip Ingham is the Toh Kian Chui Distinguished Professor and Professor of Developmental Biology at LKCMedicine. 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 Genetique Moleculaire des Eukaryotes in Strasbourg, France and at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) in London, he established his own independent research group at the ICRF Developmental Biology Unit in Oxford in 1986. 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 187 papers, many in top-ranking journals, including seven “Citation Classics” (Google Scholar). He is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), a Fellow of the Royal Society as well as the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. He was awarded the GeneticsSociety (UK) Medal in 2005 and the Waddington Medalthe 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 Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), the Wellcome Trust and the Human Frontiers of Science Programme (HFSP). He was President of the International Society of Developmental Biologists from 2013-201 and is currently Editor in Chief of Current Opinion in Genetics & Development and Head of the Developmental Biology Faculty for the online reviews journal Faculty of 1000. He serves on the External Advisory Committee of the Max-Planck Institute for Heart and LungResearch in Bad Nauheim, Germany, the Scientific Advisory Boards of the the Sars Centre for Molecular Marine Biology in Bergen, Norway and INOVA4Health in Lisbon, Portugal.

Research Focus

Prof Ingham’s lab uses the genetically tractable tropical fish Danio rerio (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 Singnalling 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.

Selected Publications

​Ingham PW. (2018) From Drosophila segmentation to human cancer therapyDevelopment. 145(21). pii: dev168898. 

Yin J, Lee R, Ono Y, Ingham PW, Saunders TE. (2018) Spatiotemporal Coordination of FGF and Shh Signaling Underlies the Specification of Myoblasts in the Zebrafish Embryo.

Dev Cell. 46(6):735-750. PMID:30253169

Pusapati GV, Kong JH, Patel BB, Gouti M, Sagner A, Sircar R, Luchetti G, Ingham PW, Briscoe J, Rohatgi R (2018) G protein-coupled receptors control the sensitivity of cells to the morphogen Sonic Hedgehog. Sci Signal. 11(516). PMID:29438014


Ojeda Naharros I, Cristian FB, Zang J, Gesemann M, Ingham PW, Neuhauss SCF, Bachmann-Gagescu R.(2018) The ciliopathy protein TALPID3/KIAA0586 acts upstream of Rab8 activation in zebrafish photoreceptor outer segment formation and maintenance. Sci Rep. 8(1):2211. PMID:29396404

Stainier DYR, Raz E, ... Ingham PW, et al. (2017) Guidelines for morpholino use in zebrafish.​ PLOS Genetics. 13(10):e1007000.

Gurung R, Ono Y, , ... Ingham PW. (2016). A Zebrafi​sh Model for Human Myopathy Associated with Mutation of the Unconventional Myosin MYO18B. Genetics, 205(2):725-35.

Poon KL, Wang X,... Ingham PW. (2016). Humanizing the zebrafish liver shifts drug metabolic profiles and improves pharmacokinetics of CYP3A4 substrates. Archives of Toxicology. 91(3):1187-97.

Zhao Z, Lee RT, ... Ingham PW. (2016). An essential Role for Grk2 in Hedgehog signalling downstream of Smoothened. EMBO Reports. 17:739-52.

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