Professor Martin Collinson

Professor Martin Collinson
BA Natural Sciences (Cantab. 1991), MA (Cantab. 1994), PhD (Edinburgh 1996)

Personal Chair

Professor Martin Collinson
Professor Martin Collinson

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 437518
The University of Aberdeen Room 4.37, Institute of Medical Sciences, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD


J. Martin Collinson

Graduated in Natural Sciences (Genetics) from Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, in 1991. Obtained a PhD at the University of Edinburgh, working in the MRC Human Genetics Unit studying the roles of homeobox gene family members (Msx genes) in vertebrate embryological development.

Postdoctoral positions at the University of Edinburgh 1996-2002, studying the roles of cell adhesion molecules (Neurofascin) and transcription factors (Pax6) in vertebrate development and disease.

Appointed Lecturer at Aberdeen University, 2002.

Senior Lecturer from October 2005. Reader 2008. Personal Chair 2012

Vice-chair of the Editorial Board of the journal British Birds.

Former Chair of the British Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee

FOR BIRD/DNA enquiries, contact


Research Interests

The major foci of work in the lab are:



We study the genetic basis of normal embryonic development (mostly eyes and limbs) and the processes that can go wrong in humans.  We also study stem cell activity in adults, focusing on degenerative disease and fertility problems.

1) The development and evolution of eyes.  There are several projects on the go. 

a) The roles of a transcription factor, Pax6, in eye development and disease . We examine how mutations in Pax6 change the cell surface properties of mutant cells, and how this may impact on the eye.

Patients with mutations in the PAX6 gene develop multiple eye abnormalities, including any or all of: aniridia (absence of iris), corneal opacity (aniridia-related keratopathy), cataract (lens clouding), glaucoma and long-term retinal degeneration. We are interested in developing new therapeutic strategies

Figure 1: The eye of a PAX6+/- aniridic patient (photograph kindly provided by Dr K, Ramaesh, University of Edinburgh). Note the corneal opacity associated with vascularisation.

b)  The development of eyes in true moles (Talpa). Moles live most of their lives underground and over evolutionary time we expect their eyes to degenerate.  We study the Iberian Mole Talpa occidentalis, in which the eyes are permanently closed, and determine how the genetic pathways that underlie eye development are breaking down in this species.

Figure 2: An adult Iberian Mole

2)  The genetic control of axon guidance and epithelial cell migration.  What pushes a cell or a growth cone from point A to point B?  We examine the relative contribution of chemical and contact mediated guidance cues in vivo.

Figure 3.  Swirling patterns of cell migration in the corneal epithelium, visualised in eyes that are mosaic for LacZ expression.

3)  The genetics and etiology of Congenital Talipes Equinovarus (clubfoot)

We study the genetic and environmental factors that underlie clubfoot - an extremely common birth abnormality (1 in 500 babies) for which virtually nothing is clear about the causes. 

Figure 4. Human bilateral clubfoot.

28th August 2011 - Interview with the Naked Scientists about the clubfoot project - see




We are looking for motivated, funded PhD students for studies in any of the above fields, e.g.

1) Genetics and molecular biology of motor neurone development and disease

2) Eye Evolution

3) Control of cell migration and wound healing

4) Genetics of human disease

5) Adult Stem Cells


Research Grants

MRC Principal Applicant. The genetic basis of clubfoot. £515,000 from October 2008  

BBSRC Principal Applicant – coholders Dr Ann Rajnicek (Univ of Aberdeen), Prof Min Zhao (UC Irvine), Prof Colin McCaig (Univ of Aberdeen) The genetic control of epithelial cell migration and wound healing physiology £643,000 from February 2007  

WELLCOME TRUST Corneal dysgenesis in the Pax6-mutant mouse – shoddy workmanship or sabotage? £245,000 from 1/9/04.  

Dr James Alexander Mearns Trust Molecular basis of gene dosage effects of Pax6 mutants £51,660 from 01/10/07.  

NHS GRAMPIAN ENDOWMENT FUND Vascularisation of the cornea £2688 from 01/04/07

NEWLIFE (Birth Defects Foundation) Aetiology and therapy of congenital corneal opacity £80,000 from July 2005 


Teaching Responsibilities

TEACHING - BSc Programmes in Biomedical Sciences, Genetics, Human Embryology and Developmental Biology.


Human Embryology and Developmental Biology Degrees at the University of Aberdeen

The degrees are suitable for students wanting to learn about embryology, stem cells, bioengineering, reproductive biology, wound healing, evolution and cancer.  Graduates can move on to jobs in academic and commercial jobs in embryology, clinical genetics, molecular biology and many biomedical fields.


'T-Club' - the Developmental Biology newsletter for University of Aberdeen.TClubDec12.pdf


Are you thinking about a degree in Developmental biology?  Have a look at this.

Further Info

External Responsibilities


British Society for Developmental Biology

Genetics Society

British Ornithologists’ Union (BOU)

Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland  

Former Chair of the BOU records Committee and Convenor of the Taxonomic Committee

Member of DEFRA-registered directory of experts. European Framework 7 Expert Reviewer.  


Ibis  2009 - present

The Open Ophthalmology Journal 2007-present

The Open Ornithology Journal 2007-present

BMC Research Notes 2008-present

British Birds1998-present

Ivory-billed Woodpeckers

See JMC's recent paper published 15th March 2007 in BMC Biology.

Collinson JM. 2007. Video analysis of the escape flight of Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus: does the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Campephilus principalis persist in continental North America? BMC Biology 5: 8. pdf

The paper generated much public interest and discussion e.g.

My argument is that the evidence for the rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in USA in 2004/5 is not proven, because there are features of the video of the bird in Arkansas in 2004 that are inconsistent with Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and the video is equally, if not more, consistent with Pileated Woodpecker.

Cornell University, Laboratory of Ornithology, is preparing as rebuttal.

Extra figure added 05/05/08

Aberdeen University Forensic Wildlife DNA Lab

Commercial Identification of Birds and other wildlife from forensic samples.

We can identify bird species from feathers, feces, blood samples. Airplane Birdstrikes a speciaility.

Wildife Crime - blood swabs from traps.


We can genetically sex pet birds

Typical Prices (Commercial):

Identification of blood/feather sample - £40 + VAT

Genetic sexing -  £15 + VAT

Contact Martin Collinson - to discuss your needs



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Page 1 of 2 Results 1 to 50 of 85

  • Raković, M, Neto, JM, Lopes, RJ, Koblik, EA, Fadeev, IV, Lohman, YV, Aghayan, SA, Boano, G, Pavia, M, Perlman, Y, Kiat, Y, Dov, AB, Collinson, JM, Voelker, G & Drovetski, SV 2019, 'Geographic patterns of mtDNA and Z-linked sequence variation in the Common Chiffchaff and the ‘chiffchaff complex’', PloS ONE, vol. 14, no. 1, e0210268. [Online] DOI:
  • Senfeld, T, Shannon, T, Vangrouw, H, Paijmans, DM, Tavares, ES, Baker, AJ, Lees, AC & Collinson, JM 2019, 'Taxonomic status of the extinct Canary Islands Oystercatcher Haematopus meadewaldoi', Ibis. [Online] DOI:
  • Panzica, DA, Findlay, AS, Van Ladesteijn, R & Collinson, JM 2019, 'The core Planar Cell Polarity gene, Vangl2, maintains apical-basal organisation of the corneal epithelium', Journal of Anatomy, vol. 234, no. 1, pp. 106-119. [Online] DOI:
  • Dorà, NJ, Manuel, M, Kleinjan, D-J, Price, DJ, Collinson, JM, Hill, RE & West, JD 2018, 'A conditional Pax6 depletion study with no morphological effect on the adult mouse corneal epithelium', BMC Research Notes, vol. 11, 705. [Online] DOI:
  • West, JD, Mort, RL, Hill, RE, Morley, SD & Collinson, JM 2018, 'Computer simulation of neutral drift among limbal epithelial stem cells of mosaic mice', Stem Cell Research, vol. 30, pp. 1-11. [Online] DOI:
  • Cao, L, Liu, J, Pu, J, Collinson, JM, Forrester, JV & McCaig, CD 2018, 'Endogenous bioelectric currents promote differentiation of the mammalian lens', Journal of Cellular Physiology, vol. 233, no. 3, pp. 2202-2212. [Online] DOI:
  • Smith, JN, Walker, HM, Thompson, H, Collinson, JM, Vargesson, N & Erskine, L 2018, 'Lens-regulated retinoic acid signalling controls expansion of the developing eye', Development, vol. 145, no. 19, dev167171. [Online] DOI:
  • Sagga, N, Kuffova, L, Vargesson, N, Erskine, L & Collinson, JM 2018, 'Limbal epithelial stem cell activity and corneal epithelial cell cycle parameters in adult and aging mice', Stem Cell Research, vol. 33, no. 12, pp. 185-198. [Online] DOI:
  • Collinson, JM, Päckert, M, Lawrie, Y, Gatter, W, Töpfer, T, Phalan, B & Fishpool, L 2018, 'Taxonomic status of the Liberian Greenbul Phyllastrephus leucolepis and the conservation importance of the Cavalla Forest, Liberia', Journal of Ornithology, vol. 159, no. 1, pp. 19-27. [Online] DOI:
  • Collinson, JM, Lindstrom, NO, Neves, C, Wallace, K, Meharg, C, Charles, R, Fraser, A, Mbogo, I, Oras, K, Nakamoto, M, Barker, S, Duce, S, Miedzybrodzka, Z & Vargesson, N 2018, 'The developmental and genetic basis of ‘clubfoot’ in the peroneal muscular atrophy mutant mouse', Development, vol. 145, no. 3, dev160093. [Online] DOI:
  • DuFour, P, Pons, J-M, Collinson, JM, Gernigon, J, Dies, JI, Sourouille, P & Crochet, P-A 2017, 'Multi-locus barcoding confirms the occurrence of Elegant Tern in Western Europe', Journal of Ornithology, vol. 158, no. 2, pp. 351–361. [Online] DOI:
  • Arocena, M, Rajnicek, AM & Collinson, JM 2017, 'Requirement of Pax6 for the integration of guidance cues in cell migration', Royal Society Open Science, vol. 4, 170625. [Online] DOI:
  • Lawrie, Y, Swann, R, Stronach, P, Perlman, Y & Collinson, JM 2017, 'The taxonomic position and breeding range of Golden Nightjar Caprimulgus eximius (Caprimulgidae)', Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, vol. 88, no. 3, pp. 281-286. [Online] DOI:
  • Collinson, JM, Dufour, P, Hamza, AA, Lawrie, Y, Elliott, M, Barlow, C & Crochet, P-A 2017, 'When morphology is not reflected by molecular phylogeny: the case of three ‘orange-billed terns’ Thalasseus maximus, T. bergii and T. bengalensis (Charadriiformes: Laridae).', Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol. 121, no. 2, blw049, pp. 439-445. [Online] DOI:
  • Walczysko, P, Rajnicek, AM & Collinson, JM 2016, 'Contact-mediated control of radial migration of corneal epithelial cells', Molecular vision, vol. 22, pp. 990-1004.
  • Sangster, G, Collinson, JM, Crochet, PA, Kirwan, GM, Knox, AG, Parkin, DT & Votier, SC 2016, 'Taxonomic recommendations for Western Palearctic birds: 11th report', Ibis, vol. 158, no. 1, pp. 206-212. [Online] DOI:
  • Findlay, AS, Panzica, DA, Walczysko, P, Holt, AB, Henderson, DJ, West, JD, Rajnicek, AM & Collinson, JM 2016, 'The core planar cell polarity gene, Vangl2, directs adult corneal epithelialcell alignment and migration', Royal Society Open Science, vol. 3, 160658. [Online] DOI:
  • Collinson, JM, Harris, P, Harvey, P, Riddington, R & Stronach, P 2016, 'Unusual DNA of a Western Bonelli's warbler trapped on Shetland', British Birds, vol. 109, no. 10, pp. 637-638.
  • Miles, W, Parnaby, D, Rosser, B, Moss, J & Collinson, JM 2015, ''Eastern Grasshopper Warbler' on Fair Isle: New to Britain', British Birds, vol. 108, no. 4, pp. 231-235.
  • Cade, M & Collinson, JM 2015, ''Stejneger's Stonechat' in Dorset: New to Britain', British Birds, vol. 108, no. 7, pp. 423-427.
  • Menzie, S, Gil-Velasco, M & Collinson, JM 2015, 'Första genetiskt bekräftade östlig rödstrupig sångare Sylvia cantillans i Sverige', Ornis Svecica, vol. 25, no. 1-2, pp. 40-44.
  • Dorà, NJ, Hill, RE, Collinson, JM & West, JD 2015, 'Lineage tracing in the adult mouse corneal epithelium supports the limbal epithelial stem cell hypothesis with intermittent periods of stem cell quiescence', Stem Cell Research, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 665-677. [Online] DOI:
  • Sangster, G, Collinson, JM, Crochet, P-A, Kirwan, GM, Knox, AG, Parkin, DT & Votier, SC 2015, 'Taxonomic recommendations for Western Palaearctic birds: 10th report', Ibis, vol. 157, no. 1, pp. 193-200. [Online] DOI:
  • Garner, M, Perlman, Y, Kiat, Y & Collinson, JM 2015, 'Water pipits: Three species rather than one?', British Birds, vol. 108, no. 1, pp. 42-48.
  • Shannon, TJ, McGowan, RY, Zonfrillo, B, Piertney, S & Collinson, JM 2014, 'A genetic screen of the island races of Wren Troglodytes troglodytes in the North-east Atlantic', Bird Study, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 135-142. [Online] DOI:
  • Dorà, NJ, Collinson, JM, Hill, RE & West, JD 2014, 'Hemizygous Le-Cre transgenic mice have severe eye abnormalities on some genetic backgrounds in the absence of LoxPSites', PloS ONE, vol. 9, no. 10, 109193, pp. 1-19. [Online] DOI:
  • Pei, Z, Lang, B, Fragoso, YD, Shearer, KD, Zhao, L, McCaffery, PJA, Shen, S, Ding, YQ, McCaig, CD & Collinson, JM 2014, 'The Expression and Roles of Nde1 and Ndel1 in the Adult Mammalian Central Nervous System', Neuroscience, vol. 271, pp. 119-136. [Online] DOI:
  • Duce, SL, D'Alessandro, M, Du, Y, Jagpal, B, Gilbert, FJ, Crichton, L, Barker, S, Collinson, JM & Miedzybrodzka, Z 2013, '3D MRI analysis of the lower legs of treated idiopathic congenital talipes equinovarus (clubfoot)', PloS ONE, vol. 8, no. 1, e54100. [Online] DOI:
  • Collinson, M, Smith, A, Waite, S & McGowan, B 2013, 'British records of 'Eastern Yellow Wagtail'', British Birds, vol. 106, no. 1, pp. 36-41.
  • Collinson, JM, Shannon, T, Archer, P, Odin, N, Riddington, R & Walsh, P 2013, 'Genetic analysis of migrant Siberian Chiffchaffs in Britain and Ireland', British Birds, vol. 106, no. 2, pp. 109-113.
  • Sangster, G, Collinson, JM, Crochet, PA, Knox, AG, Parkin, DT & Votier, SC 2013, 'Taxonomic recommendations for Western Palearctic birds: Ninth report', Ibis, vol. 155, no. 4, pp. 898-907. [Online] DOI:
  • Kucerova, R, Dorà, N, Mort, RL, Wallace, K, Leiper, LJ, Lowes, C, Neves, C, Walczysko, P, Bruce, F, Fowler, PA, Rajnicek, AM, McCaig, CD, Zhao, M, West, JD & Collinson, JM 2012, 'Interaction between hedgehog signalling and PAX6 dosage mediates maintenance and regeneration of the corneal epithelium', Molecular vision, vol. 18, pp. 139-150.
  • Mort, RL, Douvaras, P, Morley, SD, Dorà, N, Hill, RE, Collinson, JM & West, JD 2012, Stem cells and corneal epithelial maintenance: Insights from the mouse and other animal models. in Mouse Development: From Oocyte to Stem Cells. vol. 55, Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation, vol. 55, pp. 357-394. [Online] DOI:
  • Sangster, G, Collinson, JM, Crochet, PA, Knox, AG, Parkin, DT & Votier, SC 2012, 'Taxonomic recommendations for British birds: Eighth report', Ibis, vol. 154, no. 4, pp. 874-883. [Online] DOI:
  • Harrop, AHJ, Collinson, JM & Melling, T 2012, 'What the eye doesn't see: The prevalence of fraud in ornithology', British Birds, vol. 105, no. 5, pp. 236-257.
  • Mort, RL, Bentley, AJ, Martin, FL, Collinson, JM, Douvaras, P, Hill, RE, Morley, SD, Fullwood, NJ & West, JD 2011, 'Effects of aberrant Pax6 gene dosage on mouse corneal pathophysiology and corneal epithelial homeostasis', PloS ONE, vol. 6, no. 12, e28895. [Online] DOI:
  • Sangster, G, Collinson, JM, Crochet, PA, Knox, AG, Parkin, DT, Svensson, L & Votier, SC 2011, 'Taxonomic recommendations for British birds: Seventh report', Ibis, vol. 153, no. 4, pp. 883-892. [Online] DOI:
  • Kucerova, R, Walczysko, P, Reid, B, Ou, J, Leiper, LJ, Rajnicek, AM, Mccaig, CD, Zhao, M & Collinson, JM 2011, 'The role of electrical signals in murine corneal wound re-epithelialization', Journal of Cellular Physiology, vol. 226, no. 6, pp. 1544-1553. [Online] DOI:
  • Lindström, NO, Neves, C, McIntosh, R, Miedzybrodzka, ZH, Vargesson, N & Collinson, JM 2011, 'Tissue specific characterisation of Lim-kinase 1 expression during mouse embryogenesis', Gene Expression Patterns, vol. 11, no. 3-4, pp. 221-232. [Online] DOI:
  • Arocena, M, Zhao, M, Collinson, JM & Song, B 2010, 'A time-lapse and quantitative modelling analysis of neural stem cell motion in the absence of directional cues and in electric fields', Journal of neuroscience research, vol. 88, no. 15, pp. 3267-3274. [Online] DOI:
  • Ou, J, Lowes, C & Collinson, JM 2010, 'Cytoskeletal and cell adhesion defects in wounded and Pax6+/- corneal epithelia', Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, vol. 51, no. 3, pp. 1415-1423. [Online] DOI:
  • Carmona, FD, Ou, J, Jiménez, R & Collinson, JM 2010, 'Development of the cornea of true moles (Talpidae): Morphogenesis and expression of PAX6 and cytokeratins', Journal of Anatomy, vol. 217, no. 5, pp. 488-500. [Online] DOI:
  • Carmona, FD, Glosmann, M, Ou, J, Jiménez, R & Collinson, JM 2010, 'Retinal development and function in a 'blind' mole', Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. B, Biological Sciences, vol. 277, no. 1687, pp. 1513-1522. [Online] DOI:
  • Sangster, G, Collinson, JM, Knox, AG, Parkin, D & Svensson, L 2010, 'Taxonomic recommendations for British birds : sixth report', Ibis, vol. 152, no. 1, pp. 180-186. [Online] DOI:
  • Leiper, LJ, Ou, J, Walczysko, P, Kucerova, R, Lavery, DN, West, JD & Collinson, JM 2009, 'Control of patterns of corneal innervation by Pax6', Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 1122-1128. [Online] DOI:
  • Chanas, SA, Collinson, JM, Ramaesh, T, Dora, N, Kleinjan, DA, Hill, RE & West, JD 2009, 'Effects of elevated Pax6 expression and genetic background on mouse eye development', Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, vol. 50, no. 9, pp. 4045-4059. [Online] DOI:
  • Lindstrom, N, McIntosh, R, Sapsford, H, Vargesson, N, Miedzybrodzka, Z & Collinson, M 2009, 'The developmental basis of clubfoot', Mechanisms of Development, vol. 126, no. Supplement, 06-P019, pp. S126. [Online] DOI:
  • Ou, J, Walczysko, P, Kucerova, R, Rajnicek, AM, McCaig, CD, Zhao, M & Collinson, JM 2008, 'Chronic wound state exacerbated by oxidative stress in Pax6+/-aniridia-related keratopathy', The Journal of pathology, vol. 215, no. 4, pp. 421-430. [Online] DOI:
  • Collinson, JM & Melling, T 2008, 'Identification of vagrant Iberian Chiffchaffs - Pointers, pitfalls and problem birds', British Birds, vol. 101, no. 4, pp. 174-188.
  • Fowler, PA, Cassie, S, Rhind, SM, Brewer, MJ, Collinson, JM, Lea, RG, Baker, PJ, Bhattacharya, S & O'Shaughnessy, PJ 2008, 'Maternal smoking during pregnancy specifically reduces human fetal desert hedgehog gene expression during testis development', Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 93, no. 2, pp. 619-626. [Online] DOI:
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