John Marioni

2021 United Kingdom Award Finalist — Faculty

John Marioni

Current Position:
Research Group Leader (EMBL-EBI) and Senior Group Leader (University of Cambridge)

European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and University of Cambridge

Computational Biology & Bioinformatics

Recognized for: Pioneering the statistical analysis of gene expression patterns in individual cells, which has led to a radical paradigm shift in the field of transcriptomics. Understanding gene expression in single cells promises to have a profound effect on our knowledge of disease progression, drug metabolism, aging, and developmental biology.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Molecular Biology, Transcriptomics, RNA Sequencing, Genetics & Genomics, Statistics

Previous Positions:

BSc, The University of Edinburgh, UK
MPhil, University of Cambridge, UK
PhD, University of Cambridge, UK
Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Chicago, USA

Research Summary:

John Marioni, PhD, has pioneered methods for the analysis of whole-tissue and single-cell RNA sequencing data, a field known as transcriptomics. Each organ in the mammalian body is made up of billions of cells, each of which has a complete set of DNA. However, only a subset of that DNA is transcribed—or expressed—into RNA. Documenting the diversity of RNA expression is essential for understanding everything from developmental and evolutionary processes to aging and disease. Marioni first developed foundational statistical approaches to analyze whole-tissue RNA sequencing data from the liver of various mammalian species, establishing the computational foundations for the analysis of RNA-sequencing data. Subsequently, Marioni built on this to generate foundational statistical tools to interpret single-cell RNA sequencing data, contributing to the revolutionizing of the transcriptomics field. Additionally, he has played an important role as one of the leaders of the Human Cell Atlas—an international consortium created with the ambitious goal of mapping the molecular footprint of every cell in the body. Continued maturation of the interdisciplinary transcriptomics field has the potential to shed light on how cell fate decisions are made in early mammalian development, providing further insight into how development occurs, as well as explaining cellular changes preceding tumor formation.

“The interface between experimental and computational biology is one of the most exciting areas of active research: the ability to develop and apply quantitative approaches to help address fundamental biological questions, working closely with outstanding collaborators and all of the wonderful past and present members of my lab, is a huge privilege.”

Key Publications:

  1. R. Argelaguet , S.J. Clark , H. Mohammed , et al., J.C. Marioni, W. Reik. Multi-omics Profiling of Mouse Gastrulation at Single-cell Resolution. Nature, 2019.

  2. B. Pijuan-Sala, J.A. Griffiths, C. Guibentif, et al., J.C. Marioni, B. Göttgens. A Single-cell Molecular Map of Mouse Gastrulation and Early Organogenesis.  Nature, 2019.

  3. L. Haghverdi, A.T.L. Lun, M.D. Morgan, J.C. Marioni. Batch Effects in Single-cell RNA-sequencing Data are Corrected by Matching Mutual Nearest Neighbors.  Nat. Biotechnol., 2018.

  4. K. Achim, J. Pettit, L.R. Saraiva, D. Gavriouchkina, T. Larsson, D. Arendt, J.C. Marioni. High-throughput Spatial Mapping of Single-cell RNA-seq Data to Tissue of Origin. Nat. Biotechnol., 2015.

Other Honors:

2016Elected Fellow, St. Edmund's College, University of Cambridge
2004The John Wishart Prize for Statistics, University of Cambridge


In the Media:

New Scientist – Embryo cells decide their future only two days after conception