Professor Veronica van Heyningen CBE FMedSci FRS

Veronica van Heyningen is a geneticist who studies eye development and disease. Among her research highlights is the discovery of the PAX6 gene, which is mutated in the eye disorder aniridia — the absence of the iris. PAX6 also coordinates the expression of other eye development genes, including the SOX2 and OTX2 genes (mutated in microphthalmia/anophthalmia) that Veronica co-discovered. In the context of PAX6, she has explored in detail mechanisms of long-range gene regulation and aspects of phenotype variation.

Veronica’s interest in the relationship between genetics and society was further strengthened through her membership of the former UK Human Genetics Commission. She has received many awards in recognition of her work, including a CBE for services to science in 2010 and the Carter Medal of the Clinical Genetics Society in 2011. Veronica was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1995 and of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1999. She served as President of the European Society of Human Genetics in 2003 and of the Genetics Society from 2009 to 2012.

Professional position

  • Honorary Professor, MRC Human Genetics Unit, University of Edinburgh
  • Honorary Professor, Institute of Opthalmology, University College London (UCL)

Subject groups

  • Health and human sciences

    Molecular medicine

  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology