Professor Edith Heard was born in London. She was introduced to biology while taking the Natural Sciences Tripos for her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Cambridge in the 1980’s. Inspired by her teachers at the time, she switched her focus from physics to biology and graduated in Genetics. Edith then went on to obtain her PhD from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (later Cancer Research UK) at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, in London. Thereafter, she spent nine years at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, first as a postdoctoral fellow and then as a permanent researcher, before undertaking a one-year sabbatical at Cold Spring Harbor in the USA. In 2001, she set up her own group at the Institut Curie and in 2010 became Director of the Institute’s Genetics and Developmental Biology Unit.
Edith was appointed as a Professor of the College de France in 2012, holding the Chair of Epigenetics and Cellular Memory. As part of her professorship, Edith continues to give an annual series of public lectures at the Collège de France, choosing a different scientific theme each year. She is also co-chair of the French national programme PAUSE which helps to temporarily host scientists living in geopolitical crisis zones. In January 2019, Edith started as Director General of EMBL.