Michael Ashburner: History
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Subjects: Others
  • embl
  • genetics
  • ebi

Basic Information

Michael Ashburner
Name: Michael Ashburner
(May 1942–)
Sussex, England
Titles: Biologist Emeritus Professor
Affiliation: Unknown
Honor: Unknown

1. Introduction

Michael Ashburner FRS[1] (born 23 May 1942) is a biologist and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Genetics at University of Cambridge.[2] He is also the former joint-head and co-founder of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI)[3] of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)[4][5] and a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge.

2. Education

Born in Sussex, England, Ashburner attended High Wycombe Royal Grammar School from 1953 to 1960.[6] He studied at Churchill College, Cambridge[6], and received his Bachelor of Arts in Natural Sciences Tripos (Genetics) in 1964, his PhD[7] from the Department of Genetics in 1968, and was awarded a Doctor of Science in 1978.[8]

3. Research and Career

Most of Ashburner's research has been on the model organism Drosophila melanogaster.[9][10][11][12][13][14] Ashburner's career began in the early period of molecular biology prior to the development of most of the recombinant DNA techniques in use today, such as Northern/Southern/Western blotting. Nevertheless, by observing patterns of "puffing" in polytene chromosomes,[9] he established the existence of a cascade of genetic controls in the post-larval development triggered by ecdysone.[15] The Ashburner model of 1974 became a paradigm for metazoan gene regulation inasmuch as the Jacob-Monod model did for prokaryotes. Ashburner collaborated widely and mentored numerous PhD students and Postdoctoral research students during his career.[16]

Ashburner was also a member of the consortium that eventually sequenced and annotated the Drosophila melanogaster genome. Ashburner's recollections of the sequencing of the D. melanogaster genome forms the basis of a book entitled "Won for All: How the Drosophila Genome Was Sequenced".[17][18][19][20] A prolonged effort by his laboratory to characterise the Adh region[10] became invaluable for validating annotation strategies when large-scale genome information became available. Ashburner and his colleagues have received funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC)[21] and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)[22] for their studies on Drosophila genomics leveraging the D. melanogaster genome and its annotation.

3.1. Computational Biology

Ashburner was also an early pioneer in the application of computers to biology. His contributions include his active participation in setting up FlyBase and the development of Open Biomedical Ontologies[23] to allow machine-searchable annotation of biological information, particularly the Gene Ontology[24][25] and ChEBI.[26] He was instrumental in establishing the EBI,[27] as well as securing its location in the UK,[8] and acted as the first head of the EBI jointly with Graham Cameron.[28]

3.2. Open Science Advocacy

As part of his involvement the sequencing of the D. melanogaster genome, Ashburner played an instrumental role in ensuring that the resulting sequence and annotations would be made publicly available.[17] Additionally, Ashburner made a strong case for the human genome published in Science in 2000 by Celera Genomics to be made freely available,[29][30][31][32] and has spoken out repeatedly against the privatization of genomic resources.[32][33] Ashburner was also one of the signatories of the first open letter to Science in 2001 calling for a centralized, open repository of the scientific literature,[34] and subsequently became a strong advocate of Open Access publishing,[35][36] speaking out for this cause in the scientific literature[8][37] and popular media.[38][39][40] He also provided written evidence to the UK Parliament Select Committee on Science and Technology supporting Open Access publishing[41] and served on the initial advisory board of UK PubMed Central,[42] the first global mirror site of the PubMed Central repository of freely available biological literature.

3.3. Awards and Honours

Ashburner was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993.[43] He received the Gregor Mendel Medal from the Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic in 1998, the first George W. Beadle Award of the Genetics Society of America in 1999, an honorary Doctorate from the University of Crete in 2002, an honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Edinburgh in 2003, the Genetics Society Medal of the UK Genetics Society in 2005 and the Franklin Award of the Bioinformatics Organization in 2006. Ashburner was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1990,[1] his certificate of election reads:

"Distinguished for his wide-ranging researches on the cytology, genetics and evolution of Drosophila melanogaster. He was the first to make a comprehensive map of puffs in the salivary gland polytene chromosomes and to define the stage at which each was expressed. He went on to demonstrate the effects of various stimuli, especially heat-shock and ecdysone, on puffing at specific loci, and correlated particular puffs with particular gene products. Combining genetic, cytological and molecular methodology, he has investigated in fine detail particular chromosome regions, especially that surrounding the Adh (alcohol dehydrogenase) gene, revealing many novel features of structure and function. He has also made important contributions to the understanding of evolution and speciation within the D.melanogaster group of species. Ashburner has unique standing as a scholar and authority in the whole area of Drosophila research."[44]

The content is sourced from: https://handwiki.org/wiki/Biography:Michael_Ashburner

Further Reading
In this part, we encourage you to list the link of papers wrote by the character, or published reviews/articles about his/her academic contributions.


  1. Anon (1990). "Professor Michael Ashburner FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 23 November 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20151123162940/https://royalsociety.org/people/michael-ashburner-11006/. 
  2. "Emeritus Professor Michael Ashburner, Department of Genetics". University of Cambridge. Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. https://www.webcitation.org/6DQC6F5v2?url=http://www.gen.cam.ac.uk/research/ashburner.html. 
  3. "Cold Spring Harbor Laboratoty (CSHL) Oral History | Michael Ashburner". Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. https://www.webcitation.org/6HCZQ75IZ?url=http://library.cshl.edu/oralhistory/speaker/michael-ashburner/. 
  4. "iMichael Ashburner archive collection". Archived from the original on 9 September 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150909054548/http://archives.wellcomelibrary.org/DServe/dserve.exe?dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqCmd=Show.tcl&dsqDb=Catalog&dsqPos=0&dsqSearch=%28AltRefNo%3D%27pp%2Fmia%27%29. 
  5. Michael Ashburner publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (Subscription content?) https://www.scopus.com/authid/detail.url?authorId=
  6. "ASHBURNER, Prof. Michael". Who's Who. 2014 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. https://www.ukwhoswho.com/view/article/oupww/whoswho/U5810.  (subscription or UK public library membership required) (Subscription content?)
  7. Ashburner, Michael (1968). Studies on puffing in the salivary gland chromosomes of Drosophila. lib.cam.ac.uk (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. OCLC 879391061. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.596176. http://ulmss-newton.lib.cam.ac.uk/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=31600
  8. Ashburner, M. (2006). "Michael Ashburner". Current Biology 16 (22): R941–R943. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.10.010.  https://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.cub.2006.10.010
  9. Ashburner, M.; Chihara, C.; Meltzer, P.; Richards, G. (1974). "Temporal control of puffing activity in polytene chromosomes". Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology 38: 655–662. doi:10.1101/sqb.1974.038.01.070. PMID 4208797.  https://dx.doi.org/10.1101%2Fsqb.1974.038.01.070
  10. Ashburner, M.; Misra, S.; Roote, J.; Lewis, S. E.; Blazej, R.; Davis, T.; Doyle, C.; Galle, R. et al. (1999). "An exploration of the sequence of a 2.9-Mb region of the genome of Drosophila melanogaster: The Adh region". Genetics 153 (1): 179–219. PMID 10471707.  http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1460734
  11. Adams, M.; Celniker, S.; Holt, R.; Evans, C.; Gocayne, J.; Amanatides, P.; Scherer, S.; Li, P. et al. (2000). "The genome sequence of Drosophila melanogaster". Science 287 (5461): 2185–2195. doi:10.1126/science.287.5461.2185. PMID 10731132. Bibcode: 2000Sci...287.2185..  https://dx.doi.org/10.1126%2Fscience.287.5461.2185
  12. Rubin, G.; Yandell, M.; Wortman, J.; Gabor Miklos, G.; Nelson, C.; Hariharan, I.; Fortini, M.; Li, P. et al. (2000). "Comparative genomics of the eukaryotes". Science 287 (5461): 2204–2215. doi:10.1126/science.287.5461.2204. PMID 10731134. Bibcode: 2000Sci...287.2204..  http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2754258
  13. Ranz, J. M.; Maurin, D.; Chan, Y. S.; Von Grotthuss, M.; Hillier, L. W.; Roote, J.; Ashburner, M.; Bergman, C. M. (2007). "Principles of Genome Evolution in the Drosophila melanogaster Species Group". PLOS Biology 5 (6): e152. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050152. PMID 17550304.  http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1885836
  14. Teixeira, L. S.; Ferreira, Á. (2008). "The Bacterial Symbiont Wolbachia Induces Resistance to RNA Viral Infections in Drosophila melanogaster". PLOS Biology 6 (12): e2. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000002. PMID 19222304.  http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2605931
  15. Hill, R. J.; Billas, I. M. L.; Bonneton, F. O.; Graham, L. D.; Lawrence, M. C. (2013). "Ecdysone Receptors: From the Ashburner Model to Structural Biology*". Annual Review of Entomology 58: 251–271. doi:10.1146/annurev-ento-120811-153610. PMID 23072463.  https://dx.doi.org/10.1146%2Fannurev-ento-120811-153610
  16. "FlyTree - Michael Ashburner Details". Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. https://www.webcitation.org/6DQCtjhx2?url=http://academictree.org/flytree/peopleinfo.php?pid=13863. 
  17. Michael Ashburner (2006). Won for all: how the Drosophila genome was sequenced.. Plainview, N.Y: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. ISBN 978-0-87969-802-7. https://archive.org/details/isbn_9780879698027. 
  18. Sulston, John (2006). "All for All". PLoS Biology 4 (6): e198. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0040198.  http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1475689
  19. Rohn, Jennifer (2006). "Sequencing, sushi and sang-froid. Michael Ashburner's account of the fly genome project". http://www.lablit.com/article/96. Retrieved 2011-07-29. 
  20. Venter, J. C. (2006). "GENOMICS: An Ointment for the Fly". Science 313 (5795): 1892. doi:10.1126/science.1134998.  https://dx.doi.org/10.1126%2Fscience.1134998
  21. "UK Government Grants awarded to Michael Asburner". Research Councils UK. Archived from the original on 2015-04-16. https://web.archive.org/web/20150416133500/http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk/person/079A6C72-3F4B-43E4-919B-E01E3E695296. 
  22. "EPSRC grants awarded to Michael Ashburner". EPSRC. Archived from the original on 2015-04-16. https://web.archive.org/web/20150416133811/http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewPerson.aspx?PersonId=50745. 
  23. Smith, B.; Ashburner, M.; Rosse, C.; Bard, J.; Bug, W.; Ceusters, W.; Goldberg, L. J.; Eilbeck, K. et al. (2007). "The OBO Foundry: Coordinated evolution of ontologies to support biomedical data integration". Nature Biotechnology 25 (11): 1251–1255. doi:10.1038/nbt1346. PMID 17989687.  http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2814061
  24. Reference Genome Group of the Gene Ontology Consortium (2009). Bourne, Philip E.. ed. "The Gene Ontology's Reference Genome Project: A Unified Framework for Functional Annotation across Species". PLoS Computational Biology 5 (7): e1000431. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000431. PMID 19578431. Bibcode: 2009PLSCB...5E0431..  http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2699109
  25. Wroe, C. J.; Stevens, R.; Goble, C. A.; Ashburner, M. (2003). "A methodology to migrate the gene ontology to a description logic environment using DAML+OIL". Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing: 624–635. PMID 12603063.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12603063
  26. Degtyarenko, K.; De Matos, P.; Ennis, M.; Hastings, J.; Zbinden, M.; McNaught, A.; Alcantara, R.; Darsow, M. et al. (2007). "ChEBI: A database and ontology for chemical entities of biological interest". Nucleic Acids Research 36 (Database issue): D344–D350. doi:10.1093/nar/gkm791. PMID 17932057.  http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2238832
  27. Gavaghan, H. (2001). "Biology moves into the silicon stage". Nature 409 (6822): 964. doi:10.1038/35057452. PMID 11241987.  https://dx.doi.org/10.1038%2F35057452
  28. "EBI in a nutshell". European Bioinformatics Institute. Archived from the original on 2011-02-06. https://web.archive.org/web/20110206071504/http://www.ebi.ac.uk/Information/Brochures/pdf/In_a_nutshell_small_file.pdf. 
  29. Marshall, E. (2000). "HUMAN GENOME: Storm Erupts over Terms for Publishing Celera's Sequence". Science 290 (5499): 2042–2043. doi:10.1126/science.290.5499.2042. PMID 11187813.  https://dx.doi.org/10.1126%2Fscience.290.5499.2042
  30. Anon (2001). "Human genome row draws in journals". The Lancet 357 (9250): 81. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(00)03531-5.  https://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2FS0140-6736%2800%2903531-5
  31. Moody, Glyn (2004). Digital code of life : how bioinformatics is revolutionizing science, medicine, and business. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-32788-2. https://archive.org/details/digitalcodeoflif0000mood. 
  32. Ashburner, Michael. "Privatising our genes?". Archived from the original on 14 January 2012. https://web.archive.org/web/20120114012025/http://www.opendemocracy.net/theme_9-genes/article_407.jsp. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  33. Vince, Gaia. "Fears over rice genome access". New Scientist. Archived from the original on 10 January 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20140110004415/http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2061. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 
  34. Roberts, R. J.; Varmus, H. E.; Ashburner, M.; Brown, P. O.; Eisen, M. B.; Khosla, C.; Kirschner, M.; Nusse, R. et al. (2001). "Information Access: Building A GenBank of the Published Literature". Science 291 (5512): 2318a. doi:10.1126/science.1060273.  https://dx.doi.org/10.1126%2Fscience.1060273
  35. "BioMed Central Author Video - Professor Michael Ashburner Part 2/3" on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPX8VcbcmOo
  36. "BioMed Central Author Video - Professor Michael Ashburner Part 3/3" on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhV6uoROXKc
  37. "BioMed Central Author Video - Professor Michael Ashburner Part 1/3" on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Obpot5ER5o
  38. Ward, Mark (26 April 2001). "Scientists threaten journal protest". BBC News. Archived from the original on 7 August 2007. https://web.archive.org/web/20070807211813/http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1296750.stm. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  39. Meek, James (29 May 2001). "Science world in revolt at power of the journal owners". London: The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2001/may/26/highereducation.physicalsciences. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  40. Ward, Mark (1 September 2001). "Scientists call for online library". BBC News. Archived from the original on 1 July 2004. https://web.archive.org/web/20040701234843/http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1516824.stm. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  41. Ashburner, Michael. "UK Parliament Select Committee on Science and Technology APPENDIX 59". Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. https://web.archive.org/web/20120715205507/http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmsctech/399/399we70.htm. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  42. McEntyre, J. R.; Ananiadou, S.; Andrews, S.; Black, W. J.; Boulderstone, R.; Buttery, P.; Chaplin, D.; Chevuru, S. et al. (2010). "UKPMC: A full text article resource for the life sciences". Nucleic Acids Research 39 (Database issue): D58–D65. doi:10.1093/nar/gkq1063. PMID 21062818.  http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=3013671
  43. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 10 May 2011. https://web.archive.org/web/20110510021801/http://www.amacad.org/publications/BookofMembers/ChapterA.pdf. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  44. "Certificate of election: Michael Ashburner. EC/1990/02". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. https://www.webcitation.org/6Xph19C9P?url=https://collections.royalsociety.org/DServe.exe?dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqDb=Catalog&dsqCmd=show.tcl&dsqSearch=%28RefNo%3D%3D%27EC%2F1990%2F02%27%29. 
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