Georgina Ferry interviews Elizabeth Robertson.
Elizabeth Robertson FRS is Professor of Developmental Biology and a Wellcome Trust Principal Fellow at the Dunn School. Having spent her early childhood collecting animals as pets in Nigeria, she came to Oxford in 1975 to read for a degree in zoology. She then went to Cambridge to do a PhD on cell differentiation during development. She was one of the first to isolate embryonic stem cells in the mouse, and began her career as an independent scientist in 1988 at Columbia University in New York, manipulating embryonic cells and generating lines of mice that bore the corresponding phenotypes - a technique called gene targeting. She subsequently moved to Harvard, using this technique to study the patterning of the mouse body plan and identifying key transcription factors. She returned to Oxford in 2004 as part of the newly-formed Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, and five years later accepted Herman Waldmann's invitation to move her lab to the expanding Dunn School. Her work on the early embryos of mice continues to elucidate mutations in the genes for regulatory proteins that give rise to developmental abnormalities in humans.