Professor Prim Singh received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1987. His doctoral work concerned the olfactory recognition of genetic individuality, where he showed that the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gives rise to odors that provide a life-long label of identity. This has profound consequences for mating preference and kin recognition.
He remained in Cambridge for two decades where he demonstrated that the chromo-domain (CD) protein motif, shared by two Drosophila proteins, is conserved in animals and plants. CD proteins are now recognized as key epigenetic regulators of gene activity in Eukaryotes ranging from fission yeast to man. Professor Singh’s work has done much to clarify the role mammalian HP1 chromo-domain proteins in genome organization and gene expression.
He then moved to Edinburgh to study nuclear reprogramming, which is the process by which a specialized cell re-acquires developmental and ageing potential. This work was done in the wake of the discovery of mammalian cloning – “Dolly-the-sheep”. He has continued this work on reprogramming, under a broader program of epigenetics, in Germany, first at a Leibniz Institute Hamburg and then, latterly, at the Charite Medical School in Berlin.