Roger Cox

Genetics of Type 2 Diabetes

Career so far 

I gained a degree in Biochemistry in 1982 from the University of Sussex. I carried out my PhD research in the laboratory of Frank Walsh at the Institute of Neurology in London working on the generation of monoclonal antibodies to human muscle antigens and mapping these using somatic cell hybrids. On gaining my PhD from the University of London in 1986 I went as a postdoc to the Pasteur Institute in Paris and worked on the transcriptional regulation of contractile protein genes in skeletal muscle, in the laboratory of Margaret Buckingham. I did my second postdoc between 1989 and 1994 in the laboratory of Hans Lehrach at the ICRF laboratories in Lincoln Inns Fields, London. During that time I worked on mouse genome mapping using YAC and P1 libraries and on the positional cloning of the Quaking gene. From 1994 I led the gene ID group at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford. We worked on positional cloning of genes involved in a number of diseases including type 2 diabetes, as well as genome mapping. In 1999 I set up my group in the Mammalian Genetics Unit at Harwell to work on the genetics of type 2 diabetes.

Can you explain what you do at MRC Harwell Institute?

I lead a group working on the genetics of type 2 diabetes using mouse models and in vitro systems to study gene function and mechanism.

What led you to choose a career in this field? (early inspiration etc)

I was always interested in science from an early age and motivated by doing actual experiments. I became interested in genetics and gene regulation during my PhD and first postdoc. I then had the opportunity to work on the genome mapping projects in mouse and human at ICRF and the WTCHG. Whilst working at the WTCHG I was involved in a number of diabetes projects and became interested in the underlying genetics of common disease which was a major focus of the work in the WTCHG at that time.

What drives you? Has this changed over the years? 

I am driven by a desire to discover and understand mechanism in genetics and biology.

What has been your biggest breakthrough in research in the last 10

I have made a contribution to functional studies in the field of genome wide association for diabetes and obesity with a particular focus on the FTO locus.

What is your ultimate goal as a researcher? 

To understand biological mechanisms and the impact of genetic variation on disease.

Tell us something interesting about yourself

I like mountain scrambling.