Professor Peter Holland FRS

Peter Holland is a biologist who has focused his career on establishing how the diversity of animals found on Earth can be explained by the evolution of DNA. He is distinguished for uniting two fields of research — how genes control development and how DNA evolves. This area of research has become more prominent in recent years as new tools are applied to old problems.

One of Peter’s key contributions was his examination of homeobox genes, a large family of genes that direct the formation of many body structures during embryo development. Peter characterised the homeobox genes in fish-like marine animals known as lancelets or amphioxus. He also demonstrated the importance of homeobox genes in the emergence of vertebrates.

Peter is currently Linacre Professor of Zoology and Head of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. His laboratory studies the interaction between genes, embryos and evolution.

Professional position

  • Linacre Professor of Zoology, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

Subject groups

  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology



  • Darwin Medal

    For his work with many organisms and genes elucidating key aspects of how changes in the genome influence evolution of animal development.

Professor Peter Holland FRS
Elected 2003