I am a molecular biologist with a background in embryonic development and genetics. I am interested in the fundamental question of how the information stored in our genome is read leading to the specification of multiple cell types from a single fertilised egg and how these are subsequently organised to form the tissues of the body. My work covers many areas at the cutting edge of cell and molecular biology including research in stem cells, non-coding RNA, extracellular vesicles and epigenetics.
The study of embryonic development has applications in both diagnostics and in therapeutics. I am currently involved in two major projects in these fields. The first is a diagnostics project investigating prenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease by analysis of RNA and extracellular vesicles in maternal blood. In the second project I am investigating the development of nanoparticles to deliver RNA-based drugs to promote wound healing in skin.
Prior to joining LJMU I had a long and varied research career. I did my PhD at Sussex University, which has a strong record in the use of invertebrate model organisms to study neuroscience and behaviour. As a PhD student, I cloned the genes for electrical synapses from one such model organism, the medicinal leech. I examined the electrophysiology of the channels encoded by injecting mRNA into frog eggs. I then moved to California for my first postdoc where I continued this work before later investigating the embryonic development of the nervous system and neural cell fate specification using transgenic mice and genomics technologies. Returning to the UK, I then changed fields to begin work on the heart. During postdocs at UCL (Great Ormond St Institute of Child Health) and Oxford University (Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics) I used transgenic mice, gene editing, embryonic stem cells and human genetics to identify two causative genes of congenital heart disease. As a lecturer at Bristol University I began investigating epigenetic mechanisms of heart disease.
My teaching covers molecular biology, genetics, stem cells and embryonic development, neuroscience and cardiovascular disease. I lead three modules including the Embryology module on an MSc Clinical Embryology programme we run in collaboration with Care Fertility Manchester, an in vitro fertilisation clinic. I also lead Current Issues in Biomedical Science a module on the MSc Biomedical Science programme that focusses on current research in this field, and Introduction to Molecular Biology, a module taken by undergraduates on the Biochemistry and Biotechnology programmes. In addition, I deliver teaching on the MSc Industrial Biotechnology and BSc Biomedical Science programmes which includes lectures on gene editing and the genetics of heart disease.
Petra Adamova (2020-2023). Lead supervisor. Maternal blood biomarkers of pregnancy and congenital heart disease
Adam Crockett (2023-26). Co-supervisor. RNA nanoparticle therapeutics in wound healing.
Fayeeza Ali (2022) PBS departmental summer studentship. Lead supervisor.
Izzy Hartley (2023) PBS departmental summer studentship. Lead supervisor.
I have supervised 5 MSc and 29 BSc project students at LJMU and 2 BSc project students at Bristol.
2020, Liverpool John Moores University, UK, Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practise (Distinction)
2002, Sussex University, United Kingdom, Ph.D. Molecular biology
1997, University of Bristol, United Kingdom, B.Sc.Zoology
2017, Higher Education Academy, Fellow
Senior Lecturer in molecular biology, Liverpool John Moores University, 2018 - present
Lecturer in cardiovascular basic science, University of Bristol, 2016 - 2018
Postdoctoral research in congenital heart disease, University of Oxford, 2013 - 2016
Postdoctoral research in congenital heart disease, University College London (Great Ormond St Hospital Institute of Child Health), 2010 - 2013
Postdoctoral research in Neuroscience, University of California San Diego, 2002 - 2008
Dykes IM, van Bueren KL, Scambler PJ. 2023. Corrigendum to “HIC2 regulates isoform switching during maturation of the cardiovascular system” [Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology volume 114 (2018) P29-37/ https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yjmcc.2017.10.007, (S0022282817303310), (10.1016/j.yjmcc.2017.10.007)] Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology, 183 :102 DOI Author Url Publisher Url
Adamova P, Lotto RR, Powell AK, Dykes IM. 2022. Are there foetal extracellular vesicles in maternal blood? Prospects for diagnostic biomarker discovery Journal of Molecular Medicine, DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url
Fawcett SA, Al Kassas R, Dykes IM, Hughes AT, Ghali F, Ross K. 2022. A Time to Heal: MicroRNA and Circadian Dynamics in Cutaneous Wound Repair Clinical Science, 136 :579-597 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url
Adams E, McCloy R, Jordan A, Falconer K, Dykes IM. 2021. Direct Reprogramming of Cardiac Fibroblasts to Repair the Injured Heart Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease, 8 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url
Turton N, Swan R, Mahenthiralingam T, Pitts D, Dykes IM. 2019. The Functions of Long Non-Coding RNA during Embryonic Cardiovascular Development and Its Potential for Diagnosis and Treatment of Congenital Heart Disease Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease, 6 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url
Dykes IM, Szumska D, Kuncheria L, Puliyadi R, Chen C, Papanayotou C, Lockstone H, Dubourg C, David V, Schneider JE, Keane TM, Adams DJ, Brown SDM, Mercier S, Odent S, Collignon J, Bhattacharya S. 2018. A Requirement for Zic2 in the Regulation of Nodal Expression Underlies the Establishment of Left-Sided Identity Scientific Reports, 8 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url
Dykes IM, van Bueren KL, Scambler PJ. 2018. HIC2 regulates isoform switching during maturation of the cardiovascular system. Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology, 114 :29-37 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url
Dykes IM, Emanueli C. 2017. Transcriptional and Post-transcriptional Gene Regulation by Long Non-coding RNA. Genomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics, 15 :177-186 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url
Dykes IM, van Bueren KL, Ashmore RJ, Floss T, Wurst W, Szumska D, Bhattacharya S, Scambler PJ. 2014. HIC2 Is a Novel Dosage-Dependent Regulator of Cardiac Development Located Within the Distal 22q11 Deletion Syndrome Region CIRCULATION RESEARCH, 115 :23-31 DOI Author Url Publisher Url
Dykes IM, Tempest L, Lee S-I, Turner EE. 2011. Brn3a and Islet1 Act Epistatically to Regulate the Gene Expression Program of Sensory Differentiation JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, 31 :9789-9799 DOI Author Url Publisher Url
Dykes IM. 2010. A molecular study of regeneration in the CNS of the leech, Hirudo medicinalis.
Dykes IM, Lanier J, Eng SR, Turner EE. 2010. Brn3a regulates neuronal subtype specification in the trigeminal ganglion by promoting Runx expression during sensory differentiation NEURAL DEVELOPMENT, 5 DOI Author Url Publisher Url
Lanier J, Dykes IM, Nissen S, Eng SR, Turner EE. 2009. Brn3a Regulates the Transition from Neurogenesis to Terminal Differentiation and Represses Non-Neural Gene Expression in the Trigeminal Ganglion DEVELOPMENTAL DYNAMICS, 238 :3065-3079 DOI Author Url Publisher Url
Sun Y, Dykes IM, Liang X, Eng SR, Evans SM, Turner EE. 2008. A central role for Islet1 in sensory neuron development linking sensory and spinal gene regulatory programs NATURE NEUROSCIENCE, 11 :1283-1293 DOI Author Url Publisher Url
Eng SR, Dykes IM, Lanier J, Fedtsova N, Turner EE. 2007. POU-domain factor Brn3a regulates both distinct and common programs of gene expression in the spinal and trigeminal sensory ganglia NEURAL DEVELOPMENT, 2 DOI Author Url Publisher Url
Dykes IM, Freeman FM, Bacon JP, Davies JA. 2004. Molecular basis of gap junctional communication in the CNS of the leech Hirudo medicinalis JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, 24 :886-894 DOI Author Url Publisher Url
Scambler P, Dykes I. 2011. Faculty Opinions recommendation of Minor change, major difference: divergent functions of highly conserved cis-regulatory elements subsequent to whole genome duplication events. DOI Publisher Url
Research Grants Awarded:
Liverpool John Moores University (Thematic Doctoral Pathways), Transformative Peptide Chemistry for RNA Nanotechnology, Part of a team of 12 academics led by Dr Kehinde Ross, Grant value (£): £378,000 (6x PhD students). 2023
School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular sciences, LJMU (PBS Summer studentship scheme), Fluorescent extracellular vesicles for diagnostics and therapeutics, Grant value (£): 1750, Duration of research project: 3 months. 2022
Liverpool John Moores University (Institute of Health Research cross-faculty PhD scheme), Identification of blood biomarkers for antenatal diagnosis of a common congenital heart defect, Tetralogy of Fallot., Robyn Lotto, Andrew Powell, Grant value (£): £63,000 (PhD student). 2020
Liverpool John Moores University (Faculty of Science seedcorn funding), Non-invasive methods for diagnosis of congenital heart disease, Grant value (£): 10,000. 2019
Newlife Foundation for sick children, Exosome based signalling in the embryo and congenital heart disease, Grant value (£): £13,230, Duration of research project: 2 years. 2017
Development of a non-invasive maternal blood test for congenital heart disease, Maternal health conference, Edge Hill University, Poster presentation. 2022
Development of a non-invasive method for diagnosis of congenital heart disease based on analysis of embryonic-derived exosomes in the maternal circulation, Institute for health research conference, LJMU, Poster presentation. 2019
Fellow of The Higher Education Academy (for work at LJMU). 2020
Staff and Educational Development Association Professional Development Framework Named Award In Learning, Teaching and Assessing. 2020
Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practise (distinction). 2020
Fellow of The Higher Education Academy (for work at Bristol University). 2017
Associate Fellow of The Higher Education Academy (for work at Oxford University). 2016
Biomolecular Research reports, Editorial board member.
Frontiers in RNA Research - Non-coding RNA, Review Editor.