Robin Lovell-Badge is interested in decisions of cell fate, especially within the context of sex determination in mammals. Robin discovered that a single gene, Sry, present on the Y chromosome, sets cells of the reproductive organs on the path to becoming male — famously propelling ‘Randy’, a female mouse he engineered to develop into a male, to front-page news.
His work also includes a focus on stem cells. These self-renewing cells have the potential to transform into any other cell type and hold promise for treating a wide range of diseases. By studying the genes that confer these special abilities, Robin is examining how the decisions that determine the ultimate role of a cell in the body are made.
Some of Robin’s research is conducted using mouse models, which he compares with findings in chicks to add an evolutionary perspective. Consequently he is very interested in the public perception of using animals in research. He also advises on policy relating to stem cells and their use in medical treatments.