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Fellows Directory

Martin Embley

Martin Embley

Professor Martin Embley FMedSci FRS


Elected: 2019





Martin Embley is a biologist who has made significant contributions to our understanding of the origin and early evolution of eukaryotes and the evolution and functions of mitochondria. He has used computational methods to investigate the topology of the tree of life and to identify the place of eukaryotes within that tree. He has also used pathogenic microbial eukaryotes as model systems to identify the essential functions of mitochondria and to investigate the effects of lateral gene transfer on eukaryotic genomes and lifestyles. Martin played a pioneering role in the early development of molecular microbial ecology in the UK.

Martin obtained a PhD at the University of Newcastle and then taught at North East London Polytechnic before moving to the Natural History Museum to establish a DNA lab working on eukaryotic evolution. In 2004, he moved to the Medical School at Newcastle University where he is Professor of Molecular Evolutionary Biology. He is a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, UK.

Professional positions

Professor of Molecular Evolutionary Biology, Institute For Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Newcastle University

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
    • Evolution


Evolution of eukaryotes, mitochondrial evolution, reductive evolution of intracellular parasites, Microsporidia, phylogenetics


  • Darwin Medal

    For his fundamental, paradigm-changing contributions to the understanding of mitochondrial endosymbiosis and the origins of eukaryotes in a new two-domain tree of life.

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