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Department of Genetics



Steve is Head of Department. After a BSc in Molecular Biology and PhD in Genetics at the University of Glasgow (under the supervision of Kim Kaiser), Steve joined the Department of Genetics in 1990 as a Postdoctoral Researcher in Michael Ashburner’s group. In 2000 he established core functional genomics infrastructure for the UK Drosophila community in the Department with the development of FlyChip. He played major roles in establishing genetic tools for the community, including the widely used DrosDel collection ( and along with Daniel St Johnstone and Kathryn Lilly a collection of protein trap lines. Since it’s inception he has been involved in the the Target Malaria programme headed by Austin Burt (Imperial College) to develop novel methods of controlling the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae ( Steve’s lab developed novel gene drive technologies in Drosophila and is currently an adviser on the project. Steve was appointed as a University Lecturer in 2003, a Reader in Genome Biology in 2008 and Professor of Genome Biology in 2013. Steve has a long-standing interest in improving the way institutions assess research assessment and is currently Chair of the committee tasked with implementing DORA across the University (  

Research Interests

The main focus of the lab is exploring aspects of transcriptional regulation and chromatin architecture at a genome wide scale in Drosophila. We are based in the Genetics Department.

We have a long-standing interest in the biology of Sox domain transcription factors in the fly, using classical genetics and developmental biology approaches to understand the biological function of Sox factors in CNS and gonad development (Dichaete, SoxN & Sox100B) along with genomics techniques such as expression profiling and ChIP-array to understand how they control regulatory circuits. More recently, in collaboration with Alistair McGregor at Oxford Brookes, we have been exploring conservation of Sox function in the invertebrates by an analysis of Sox gene expression and function in spiders. We are also investigating aspects of regulatory circuits controlled by Hox proteins with Rob White(PDN)  and, in a collaboration led by Sarah Bray (PDN), the genomic response to Notch signalling. Finally, in collaboration with Prof Kathryn Lilley at the Cambridge Centre for Proteomics, we are exploring the isoformal proteomics of the signalling pathway regulator Shaggy and, more recently have initiated a project to examine the expression and function of the fly nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors
We also have a long-standing commitment to the provision of community resources for the fly, and have contributed to several resource projects including DrosDel, FlyChip and modENCODE. We were involved in a UK project with Daniel St Johnston (PI, Gurdon) and Kathryn Lilley (CSBC) to generate new protein trap lines as in vivo proteomics resources for Drosophila (  Currently, along with Kathryn Lilley, we are involved in a BBSRC sLoLa led by Simon Hubbard (Manchester) to characterise and quantify the embryonic proteome. More recently he has worked on the informal proteomics of the fly GSK-3 signalling pathway component and, along with Kathryn Lilley and collaborators at Syngenta, developed new tools for understanding insect Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. 

Research Group Links

Russell Group | Department of Genetics (


Cambridge Systems Biology Centre |


Genetics Fly Facility


Key publications: 


1. Paese CLB, Schoenauer A, Leite DJ,  Russell S, McGregor AP.  (2018)  A SoxB gene acts as an anterior gap gene and regulates posterior segment addition in a spider. eLIFE 7:e37567

2. Carl SH, Russell S (2015) Common binding by redundant group B Sox proteins is evolutionarily conserved in Drosophila. BMC Genomics 16:292

3. Ferrero E, Fischer B, Russell S (2014) SoxNeuro orchestrates central nervous system specification and differentiation in Drosophila and is only partially redundant with Dichaete. Genome Biology 15:R74

4. Aleksic J, Fischer B, Ferrero E, Russell S. (2013) The role of Dichaete in transcriptional regulation during Drosophila embryonic development. BMC Genomics 14: 861


Google Scholar

‪Steven Russell‬ - ‪Google Scholar‬


Steve's ORCID

Head of Department
Professor of Genome Biology
Professor Steve  Russell
Areas of Interest: 
Drosophila genomics
Email address: 
Department of Genetics,
University of Cambridge,
Downing Street,
Cambridge CB2 3EH,
United Kingdom
Office phone: 
+44 (0)1223 766929
Takes PhD students