Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) embryo. Society of Biology award-winning photograph by CDBG member Samantha Warrington. More about this photo.

The MRC Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics (CDBG) brings together developmental geneticists with clinician scientists, creating a focus of expertise in the development of animal models of human disease with the aim of stimulating the translation of findings from model systems to the development of novel therapies and clinical practice.

Gene discovery programmes using both forward mutation screening and gene expression profiling are being combined with chemical genetic approaches to identify novel components of developmental pathways and networks and unravel their mechanisms of action. Discoveries made in flies, fish and chick are validated in mammalian models and cell culture systems.

Screening Services

Our research staff use non-mammalian animal models, such as zebrafish – a tropical fish from the minnow family – the fruit fly Drosophila and chicks to study normal and aberrant cellular mechanisms.

These help to identify genes that underlie human disease – neurodegenerative, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disease, as well as cancer – and can be used in drug discovery.


The Centre's Screening Unit (CDBG SU) undertakes screening in Zebrafish, a vertebrate model organism that is small in size and easy to maintain and breed.

Zebrafish provides a cost-effective means to screen compounds for potential toxic effects in advance of rodent studies or for a desired activity e.g. as potential therapeutics

A number of assays have either been developed or are in use in-house; these include, for example, visualising sites of skin inflammation via recruitment of immune cells, wound healing, or bone thickness. Customised assays can also be developed.

Latest News

  • New way to tackle inflammatory diseases
    CDBG member Prof Steve Renshaw discovers potential new treatment. Read more.
  • Professor Moira Whyte awarded OBE
  • CDBG member awarded Honours for services to Respiratory Medicine. Read more.
  • CDBG member awarded in Queen's New Year's Honours
  • Professor Pamela Shaw is one of only 16 figures across the country to be given a Damehood in recognition of her extraordinary contribution to neurosciences. Read more.
  • New protein could hold the key to stopping Parkinson's
    MRC CDBG member, Dr Oliver Bandmann found that by blocking the protein, nerve cells usually lost in the progression of Parkinson's could be saved – potentially halting the spread of the condition. Read more.
  • New Findings for Genetic Disorder
    Zebrafish study paves the way for Charcot Marie Tooth disease (CMT) treatments. Read more.
  • News archive

Community and Outreach


We feel passionately that the science base within the centre has far-reaching potential benefits. Our staff participate in a wide range of workshops both locally and nationally. More about our community and outreach activities