Expert in the evolution of genes and genomes, Professor Laurence Hurst FMedSci FRS, has been invited to join the scientific advisory board of Cambridge-based ExpressionEdits, an innovative genetics company redefining the manufacture and design of artificial genes for research and therapeutics.

Laurence is a Professor of Evolutionary Genetics in the Department of Life Sciences, and the founding director of the Milner Centre for Evolution.

A world leader in research on the evolution of genetic systems and gene expression, Professor Hurst’s studies have had wide-reaching applications. In particular, his work on gene-level evolution, looking at mutations classically assumed to be unimportant, underpins both improved diagnostics of genetic diseases and the design of artificial genes for gene therapy. In 2014, he made the first discovery of ‘naïve-like’ stem cells, dubbed the ‘Holy Grail’ of stem cells, that can be turned into any other type of cell.

Accolades celebrating his work include the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London (2003), membership in the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) since 2004, The Genetics Society Medal in 2010, and the Humboldt Prize in 2024.

His expertise will give ExpressionEdits depth in both the evolutionary and mechanistic understanding of codon usage, mRNA splicing and the control of protein expression levels.

Professor Philip Ingham FRS, Head of the Department of Life Sciences, said: “I am delighted that my eminent colleague Laurence Hurst has been invited to advise this innovative biotech company from Cambridge. This is another excellent example of how the fundamental research nurtured by the Milner Centre for Evolution can have meaningful real-world application.”