Anne McLaren Lecture 2021
November 12, 2021Read more
Hansong studied the host-pathogen interaction for her DPhil at the University of Birmingham under the supervision of Prof Robin May. She then joined Prof Patrick O’Farrell’s laboratory as a Human Frontier postdoctoral fellow at the University of California San Francisco to explore mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) transmission in Drosophila. In 2017, she started her group as Wellcome Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the Gurdon Institute to continue her work in heteroplasmy transmission. She also obtained an ERC Starting Grant in 2018 to study mtDNA recombination.
Hansong is an expert in the field of mitochondrial genetics. Among her ground-breaking research advances, Hansong showed that deleterious mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations are selectively eliminated by purifying selection, but certain sequence polymorphisms can grant pathogenic mitochondrial genomes selfish transmission advantages so that they outcompete functional genomes and impair health. Moreover, Hansong has demonstrated that homologous recombination occurs in animal mitochondria and capitalised on this to develop the first system to isolate recombinant mtDNA, providing a means to genetically engineer animal mtDNA.
In a message to the Gurdon Institute members, Hansong wrote:
“In 2017, I started my independent research group at the Gurdon Institute, an experience that has been immensely fulfilling and enriching. The institute’s nurturing research environment and the unwavering support of my colleagues have been instrumental in shaping my growth and evolution as a scientist. I was also fortunate to build a great team, whose guidance and wisdom have not only deepened my understanding of science but also honed my leadership skills.
While bidding farewell to the Gurdon fills me with nostalgia and gratitude for the wonderful times spent there, I am excited to embark on a new journey at the University of Birmingham. This chapter will be an adventure with fresh opportunities, unexplored territories, and exciting challenges, and I am ready to embrace it with enthusiasm and determination.”