Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Professor Bonifer is interested in supervising doctoral researchers in the following areas:

Basic mechanisms controlling blood cell development
Molecular mechanisms regulating aberrant gene regulation in leukaemia

1986 …2024

Research activity per year

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Personal profile


From 1974 - 1980

Studies of Biology, University of Cologne



Diploma Thesis at the Institute of Genetics, University of Cologne (laboratory of Prof. W. Vielmetter)                                                      


1980 - 1985

PhD thesis first at the Institute of Genetics, University of Cologne, from 1983 onwards at ZMBH (Centre of Molecular Biology, Heidelberg), (laboratory Prof. A.E. Sippel)


1986 - 1988

Postdoctoral fellow of the Deutsche                                                       Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) at the Karolinska Institute                               Stockholm (laboratory of Prof. J.-Å. Gustafsson)                                                                       


Postdoctoral fellow of the Deutsche                                                                    

Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) at the National Institute for Medical Research, London (laboratory of Prof. F. Grosveld).


1990 - 1997

Assistant Professor (C1) at the Institute for Biology III,                           University of Freiburg. Independent investigator


June 1995

Habilitation (German university teacher qualification) in Molecular Biology and Genetics. Promotion to University Docent. Member of the Faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg


1. Sept. 1997

Appointment as Research Group Leader at the Molecular Medicine Unit, University of Leeds, UK. First grant in 1998.



University Research Fellowship Award (tenured)



Promotion to Reader in Molecular Biology and Genetics


Promotion to Professor in Molecular Biology and Genetics


Appointment to Chair of Experimental Haematology


1.1.2006 - 30.6.2011

Head of Section of Experimental Haematology

Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine


1.7.2011- present

Chair of Experimental Haematology, School of Cancer Sciences,       

University of Birmingham

Research interests

Submitted Manuscripts and manuscripts in preparation




Postgraduate and graduate supervision


All my students published at least one paper




Diploma Theses:


1990 – 1991  Nicole Faust  „Establishment of an in vitro differentiation system for macrophages from embryonic stem cells of the mouse: DNA-transfer and transgene expression“

                    (published in DNA and Cell Biology, 1994)


1992 – 1993  Matthias Huber  „Chromatin structure of the chicken lysozyme chromatin domain in macrophages of transgenic mice“ (published in Nucleic Acids Research, 1994, 1997, Gene 1997)


1996             Ulrike Jägle „Examination of the activation kinetics of chicken lysozyme transgenes in an in vitro differentiation system from primary macrophage precursors of mice(published in J. Biol. Chemistry, 1997)




PhD theses:


1993 – 1996                      Matthias Huber „Chromatin reorganization during                                         the activation of  the chicken lysozym                                                         locus“(published in DNA and Cell Biology, 1995,                                             Nucleic Acids Research 1996, 1997)      


1992 – 1996                      Nicole Faust „ Characterization of a                                                              embryonal/fetal                                                                                      macrophage  type using the in vitro differentiatio                                          of  transgenic embryonic stem cells of the mouse                                          into macrophages“

                                       (published in Exp. Hematology, 1997; DNA and Cell Biology, 2000)




External Diploma thesis:

1999:            Alexandros Vergiopoulos (in collaboration with Prof. M. Reth, University of Freiburg): „Analysis of haematopoietic differentiation of c-myb-/- ES cells in vitro“ (published in Clarke et al., 2000, Oncogene)


1 year Bsc project

2000 – 2001  Elisabeth Straszinsky (University of Leeds). „Flow cytometric characterization of macrophage precursor stages using a purified antibody against the macrophage colony stimulating factor“



1 year Bsc project

2001 – 2002  Nicola Wilson (University of Huddersfield) „Role of specific transcription factors in the regulation of chicken lysozyme cis-regulatory element activity. Published in Lefevre et al., 2003; Mol. Cell. Biol.


PhD Theses:

2000 – 2002:                     Daniel Scott: (Co-supervisor with M.Hull and L. Coletta) “ The role of Cox-2 in intestinal tumorigenesis”

                                        (published in Scott et al. 2001, Gastroenterology)


2001 – 2004:                     George Follows “Epigenetic effects of AML1-ETO action on the human c-FMS locus” (published in Follows et al., 2003, EMBO J.; Follows et al., 2003, Nucleic Acids Research, Follows et al., 2005, Oncogene.


2001 – 2004                      Olusola Faluyi (Co-supervisor with M.Hull and L. Coletta) “Regulation of stromal cell cyclooxygenase-2 in the ApcMin/+ mouse model of intestinal tumorigenesis”

(published in Hull et al., 2005; Carcinogenesis).


2003 – 2007                      Nicola Wilson “The mechanism of repression of the myeloid-specific c-fms gene by Pax5 during B lineage restriction (published in Tagoh et al., EMBO J., 2004, Tagoh et al., EMBO J. 2006


2006 - 2009                      James Witham “ The role of non-coding RNAs in the                                       regulation of chicken Lysozyme expression”

                                        (Published in Lefevre et al., Molecular Cell, 2008)


2008 – 2012                     Debleena Ray (Gordon Piller Student) “Signaling dependent regulation of the B cell specific master regulator PAX5 in t (8;21) acute myeloid leukaemia” (published in Blood)


2008 – 2012:                     Vasileios Ladopoulos “Mechanistic insights into the                                       function of MLL2 in CpG island promoter regulation”                                      (published in Mol Cell Biol)


2012 – 2015                      Jason Piper. Jointly with Sascha Ott, Systems                                               Biology Institute Warwick: Development of digital                                         DNaseI in vivo footprinting techniques for the                                               detailed analysis of chromatin programming events                                       in normal and aberrant cell differentiation                                                   (published in Piper et al. Nucleic Acids research                                           2014, Ptasinska et al., 2914, Cauchy et al., 2015).



Sara Burgin

(intercalated BSc) Aberrant activation of repeat elements in classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and their role in cancer pathogenesis



Current students:


Anna Pickin                       Functional analysis of down-stream targets of                                               RUNX1/ETO  in t(8;21) acute myeloid leukaemia


Justin Loke                       Identification of common and distinct                                                           epigenetic (Clinical Fellow)                                                                         reprogramming properties of core-binding-factor                                          fusion  proteins.


Ben Edginton-White           The role of aberrant transcription factor expression                                      and loss of epigenetic control in activating long-                                           terminal-repeats in leukaemia and lymphoma


Leigh O Connor                 Tissue specific roles of the ubiquitous transcription                                        factor Sp1 during haematopoietic development


Monika Nafria                    Modelling acute myeloid leukaemia in human ES                                           cell derived haematopoietic precursor cells (from                                         1.10.2015)                              


Administrative experience

I have been in an administrative role and group leader and faculty member since 1990.




- Member of Faculty of Biology at University of Freiburg


- Member of recruiting committees for Professors and other staff


- Independent organizer of seminars, lectures and practical courses as part of extensive teaching duties


- Member of teaching committee with curriculum responsibilities


- Management of animal facility (Freiburg), including bookkeeping and personnel management


- Administrative experience as project leader / license holder according to German gene technology law






- Member of Biomedical Services (University of Leeds) Management Committee


- Member of the Molecular Medicine Unit management committee


-Head of Section of Experimental Haematology (48 staff). Responsible for one Professor (Peter Cockerill), several younger group leaders (Pascal Lefevre, Gina Doody, Reuben Tooze and Peter Laslo) as well as for members clinical research groups at HMDS in Leeds (Jack, Hillmen, Bowen). Responsible for Section Finances and space allocation as well as personnel responsibilities


- Member of the LIMM Executive group


-Theme Leader within CRUK Centre in Leeds responsible for developing Systems Medicine





- Theme Leader (Stem Cells, Development and Transcriptional regulation) on Level 3 BR. Responsible for sorting out space distribution and the move of 3 new research groups onto the floor.


-Member of the College Strategic Research Committee


-Member of the School Strategic Research Committee


-Member of Vice Chancellors review Committee for School of Psychology



Other professional activities


-Member of the International Society of Experimental Haematology (ISEH).


-Member of the Editorial Board of Experimental Hematology and of Stem Cell Research


-Co-organizer of Cancer Epigenetics conference, May 2013


-Coordinator of BBSRC LoLa consortium


-Frequent reviewer for international journals (Cell, EMBO J, Genes & Development, J. Experimental Medicine, Blood, Stem Cells, Leukemia, Mol. Cell. Biology, J. Biol. Chemistry, PNAS, Human Molecular Genetics, Nucleic Acids Research, Gene, Genome Biology)


-Reviewer for national and international grant proposals and member of site visit panels. MRC (including centre grants and programme grants), BBSRC (including Institute grants), Wellcome Trust project grants and investigator grants, programme and Investigator awards, grants from CRUK, LLR, KKLF, AICR as well as some smaller charities),

I have reviewed grants for science organizations in Germany, Israel, Austria, USA, Netherlands, Portugal, France, Italy, and the EU.


Between 2002 – 2007 I was a Member of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Scientific Review Panel (“Epigenetics”) and I still review grants for them.


Between 2003 – 2007 I was a member of the BBSRC Genes and Developmental Biology scientific review panel


I am frequently called upon to be an external examiner for PhD theses in Germany (last time in 2012), the UK and Ireland.


2010 – 2012: Member of Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research Training and Career Development sub-Committee


2011, 2012: Member of review panel for Birmingham Fellow applications


2013 - 2014: Vice-Chair of BBSRC committee C


Since 2013: Director of the International Society for Experimental Haematology, (ISEH)


External associate of the DFG Schwerpunktprogramm “Epigenetic Mechanisms in Malignant Hematopoiesis” (Coordinators Profs Michael Lübbert and Christoph Plass).

Research interests


We collaborate with research groups from various countries.

UK: Bertie Gottgens, Cambridge, Valerie Kouskoff and Georges Lacaud, Manchester, David Westhead, Leeds; Sascha Ott, Warwick;

USA (Harvard Medical School Boston (Dan Tenen), Cornell University New York (Ari Melnick), City of Hope Medical Center, Duarte (Art Riggs)

Germany: Charite Berlin (Stephan Mathas); Universitaet Muenster (Frank Rosenbauer), Heinrich Pette Institute, Hamburg (Carol Stocking);

Spain: CGR Barcelona (Thomas Graf);

Netherlands: Erasmus University Rotterdam (Sjaak Philipsen, Ruud Delwel). 



I am currently supervising 4 PhD students and 1 Masters student, and have had several project students in the lab. In the last year, I was heavily occupied by my work as a BBSRC Committee Chair as well as running my research group and did not perform much teaching. However, in December I offered a 2 day Master Class within the BBSRC MITB PhD program (lecture and practical course) and will do so again this year. I also gave a lecture within the Haematology Module of the BMedSC programme.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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