Rebecca Oakey


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    Personal profile

    Research interests

    Main research areas:

    Intragenic CpG islands and imprinted retrogenes as models to study gene expression

    Molecular genetics of neuroendocrine tumours including pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas

    Epigenetic factors in heart valve development

    DNA carries heritable information and genes guide development to adulthood. Epigenetic factors influence gene expression through modifications to DNA. We are interested in studying epigenetic factors genomewide in order to understand mechanisms of gene regulation. A class of genes known as imprinted genes provide an excellent model system for studying epigenetic mechanisms. These genes are expressed in a parent of origin specific way, in other words one parental allele is active and one is silenced in the same cell. The group has used bioinformatics tools for the analysis of genomic sequence and epigenetic features genomewide to identify a group of genes known as imprinted retrogenes. We have shown using these model loci that intragenic promoters and epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation can direct alternative mRNA processing including alternative polyadenylation. This has implications for transcriptome diversity and tissue specific gene regulation.

    We undertake research in cancer genetics and epigenetic, specifically on tumour metabolism in neuroendocrine cancers. We are investigating pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas using genomic and epigenomic methodologies to study metastatic behaviour. We are developing computational methods to predict metastasis in these rare inherited tumours.

    We are delineating epigenetic regulators in the developing heart, particulalry in endocardial cell specification that distinguish this cell population from other somatic endothelial cells genomewide. Identifying factors that specifiy heart valves will inform on developmental defects as well as regenerative strategies.

    For details of post-doctoral and PhD student lab members working on these projects please click on our laboratory web page link:

    Research interests (short)

    Epigenetics; polyadenylation; imprinting; bioinformatics;transcriptomics, epigenomics; human imprinted diseases; rare diseases; endocardial cells and valve development; epigenomics of cancer, host epigenetics in infection

    Biographical details

    Dean for Doctoral Studies, King's College London, Jan 2018-Dec 2026

    Biographical details

    GSTT Boimedical Research Centre Training Lead 2018-2022

    Biographical details

    Innovation Scholars Lead: Data Science Training in Health & Bioscience (DaSH), 'Enabling the big data revolution through skills training' 2021-2024

    Biographical details

    KHP Digital Health Hub Training Lead 2023-2026.

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

    Education/Academic qualification

    Doctor of Philosophy, The structure of alphoid satellite DNA on normal and abnormal human Y chromosomes, University of Oxford

    Award Date: 1 Jan 1989

    Bachelor of Science, UWE Bristol

    Award Date: 1 Jan 1986

    External positions

    Judge, Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the United Kingdom, Blavatnik Institute


    Panel Member, The future of reproductive and developmental science and technology, Nuffield Council on Bioethics


    UKRI AI CDT Panel Member, UKRI UK Research and Innovation


    Leadership Programme Advisory Board, NIHR National Institute For Health & Care Research


    Policy Officer, Genetics Society


    VP External Relations, Genetics Society



    • QH426 Genetics
    • Epigenetics
    • Imprinting
    • Polyadenylation
    • Bioinformatics
    • Genomics
    • Pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas
    • DNA methylation


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