Neil specialises in epigenetic mechanisms in gene regulation. He is a Wellcome Trust PRF, and group head in the University of Oxford’s Department of Biochemistry. His group began life at the Clinical Science Centre in 1994, moving to Oxford in 2008. Work in the lab centres on understanding the molecular mechanism of X chromosome inactivation, the process mammals use to equalise levels of expression of genes on the X chromosome in females relative to males.
Working with Sohaila Rastan, he first identified Xist RNA as the controlling factor in X-chromosome inactivation and over subsequent years he has unravelled how Xist RNA silences the X chromosome, the protein factors involved and how the process is timed and controlled. His research has implications for general mechanisms underlying epigenetics, development and differentiation and uses a wide range techniques in genetics, cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and embryology. His lab is also affiliated with Micron Oxford, an initiative to develop and apply advanced microscopy in chromosome, cell and developmental biology.