Skip to content


Fellows Directory

Denis Duboule

Denis Duboule

Professor Denis Duboule ForMemRS

Foreign Member

Elected: 2012


Denis Duboule is a developmental geneticist, based in Geneva and Lausanne. He has contributed to precise detailing of how, during embryonic development, a mass of unspecified cells becomes organised into a body plan through genetic controls. He works particularly on Hox genes and has shown that they control trunk and limb patterning in diverse species.

Hox genes are a family of related genes found clustered together in groups. Denis revealed the structure of the first large complex of mouse Hox genes. Together with partners, he discovered that the physical ordering of Hox genes in vertebrates corresponds to the position of the body parts they organise — a phenomenon called colinearity — and that this genetic system is conserved throughout metazoan evolution.

Denis went on to prove that the activation of each Hox gene one after another also occurs in a colinear fashion, following a time sequence that he termed the ‘Hox clock’. He has also shown that the Hox body-patterning system was co-opted during vertebrate evolution to control the development of various structures and organs.

Professional positions

Professor of Biology, Department of Genetics and Evolution, University of Geneva
Professor of Biology, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne (EPFL)

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Biochemistry and molecular biology


Hox genes,  embryonic development, transcription, chromatin, evolution


  • Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine

    No citation available for this award.

Was this page useful?
Thank you for your feedback
Thank you for your feedback. Please help us improve this page by taking our short survey.