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Dr Fatima Santos


Subject: Natural Sciences

Characterisation of epigenetic reprogramming events in mammalian embryos, particularly the characterisation of chromatin remodelling during preimplantation development upon fertilization and following somatic nuclear transfer, as a means of understanding the events that lead to lineage commitment and cell differentiation in mammals.
Postgraduate Tutor (Pastoral), Director of Studies
Senior Research Scientist

Dr Fátima Santos was educated in Portugal, where she read Biology and obtained a PhD in Genetics. She was Auxiliary Professor at the University of Porto, as well as Population Geneticist at the Institute of Pathology and Molecular Immunology, University of Porto (IPATIMUP), before coming to work with Professor Wolf Reik at The Babraham Institute, Cambridge, in 1999. She is a Senior Research Scientist and Research Associate of the Centre for Trophoblast Research having done pioneering work characterising DNA methylation dynamics in mammalian pre-implantation development. Her research interests focus on the study of epigenetic remodelling in the early embryo as a means of understanding the events that lead to lineage commitment and cell differentiation in mammals. She is also committed to science communication, particularly to young people, and is regularly invited to participate in public engagement activities such as the Royal Institution 2013 Advent Calendar ( - see chromosome 11).

In order to understand how an organism works you need to know how it starts. From the union of a sperm and an egg, multicellular organisms emerge. I am interested in understanding how these two highly specialised cells, the gametes, come together forming a totipotent embryo that gradually specialises into different cell lineages, all sharing the same DNA.
  • Celia Alda-Catalinas, Danila Bredikhin, Irene Hernando-Herraez, Fátima Santos, Oana Kubinyecz, Mélanie A. Eckersley-Maslin, Oliver Stegle, Wolf Reik. A Single-Cell Transcriptomics CRISPR-Activation Screen Identifies Epigenetic Regulators of the Zygotic Genome Activation Program. Cell Syst. 2020 Jul 22; 11(1): 25–41.e9.
  • Inês Milagre, Thomas M. Stubbs, Michelle R. King, Julia Spindel, Fátima Santos, Felix Krueger, Martin Bachman, Anne Segonds-Pichon, Shankar Balasubramanian, Simon R. Andrews, Wendy Dean, Wolf Reik. Gender Differences in Global but Not Targeted Demethylation in iPSC Reprogramming. Cell Rep. 2017 Jan 31; 18(5): 1079–1089.
  • Ge Guo, Ferdinand von Meyenn, Fátima Santos, Yaoyao Chen, Wolf Reik, Paul Bertone, Austin Smith, Jennifer Nichols. Naive Pluripotent Stem Cells Derived Directly from Isolated Cells of the Human Inner Cell Mass. Stem Cell Reports. 2016 Apr 12; 6(4): 437–446.
  • Yasuhiro Takashima, Ge Guo, Remco Loos, Jennifer Nichols, Gabriella Ficz, Felix Krueger, David Oxley, Fátima Santos, James Clarke, William Mansfield, Wolf Reik, Paul Bertone, Austin Smith, Resetting Transcription Factor Control Circuitry toward Ground-State Pluripotency in Human. Cell. 2014 Sep 11; 158(6): 1254–1269.
  • Fátima Santos, Julian Peat, Heather Burgess, Cristina Rada, Wolf Reik, Wendy Dean. Active demethylation in mouse zygotes involves cytosine deamination and base excision repair. Epigenetics & Chromatin. 2013; 6: 39.
  • Fátima Santos, Wendy Dean. Using immunofluorescence to observe methylation changes in mammalian preimplantation embryos. Methods Mol Biol. 2006;325:129-137.
  • Fátima Santos, Brian Hendrich, Wolf Reik, Wendy Dean. Dynamic reprogramming of DNA methylation in the early mouse embryo. Dev Biol. 2002;241(1):172-182.
  • Wendy Dean, Fátima Santos, Miodrag Stojkovic, Valeri Zakhartchenko, Jörn Walter, Eckhard Wolf, Wolf Reik. Conservation of methylation reprogramming in mammalian development: Aberrant reprogramming in cloned embryos. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Nov 20; 98(24): 13734–13738.