George Dickson


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Personal profile

Personal profile


Molecular Genetics and Gene Therapy of Neuromuscular, Cardiovascular and Neurodegenerative Diseases 

George Dickson is Emeritus Professor of Molecular Cell Biology at Royal Holloway - University of London (RHUL). He has spent most of his career studying neuromuscular disease and muscle cell biology, including the first cloning of an intact dystrophin gene, the discovery of the role of cell adhesion molecules in muscle stem cell fusion, the first identification of utrophin, and the first description of exon skipping in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Professor Dickson has also conducted notable research into gene therapy for atherosclerosis, and genetic vaccination against HIV/AIDS.  He is a member of the UK MDEX Consortium, UK HIV-Vaccine Consortium, and the EU-SKIP-NMD Project, and has been a platform leader in the EU Clinigene Network of Excellence. He is a past President of the European Society of Gene & Cell Therapy, and a past Secretary and founder member of the British Society for Gene Therapy. He has been a member of the European Medicine Agency Committee for Advanced Therapeutics (Gene and Cell Therapies). Professor Dickson was also a Royal Holloway Research Theme Champion for 'Health, the Human Body and Behaviour'.

Research has been supported by EU, Muscular Dystrophy Charities, Welcome Trust, UK Department of Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and industry partners like Wyeth, Sarepta, Benitec, and Pfizer, and includes: (i) Optimisation of exon-skipping and antisense oligonucleotide formulations for DMD, (ii) Inhibition of myostatin by RNA skipping and gene therapy for DMD, (iii) Development of dystrophin minigenes and AAV viral vectors for treatment of DMD, (iv) Direct genome correction of DMD using endonuclease-mediated genome surgery, (v) Development of adenoviral vaccine vectors for HIV/AIDS, (vi) General muscle fibre and stem cell biology.

Watch some short films about the key research areas:


Immuno-staining showing "md-like" costameric localisation of the dystrophin-associated trans-membrane complex

A recombinant microdystrophin (red) is double stained for intracellular Ig (green), which identifies muscle fibers damaged by dystrophin deficiency.

‘Scientist of the year award for DMD research’

World-class research being carried out at Royal Holloway’s School of Biological Sciences in the development of novel therapies for rare diseases, such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) has been recognized with a national award.

Professor George Dickson, Chair of Molecular Cell Biology received the accolade of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s ‘Scientist of the Year’ from TV presenter Sue Barker at the MDC annual conference held in Coventry on Saturday, 18 October 2014.

Professor Dickson commented on the award,

“This is a really nice recognition of the hard work and dedication of our research team, and of past colleagues.  I thank my lucky stars to have such a talented team of brilliant dedicated people, and such a tremendous and supportive research environment in the School and the College.”

Professor Paul Hogg, former Vice Principal and Dean of Science at Royal Holloway added,

“Congratulations to George Dickson and his research team on such a well-deserved award in recognition of many years of pioneering research into potential treatments and cures for people with DMD and related neuromuscular conditions.”

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, a consistently strong funder of research at Royal Holloway, launched ‘Scientist of the Year’ in 2013 and the first award went to Professor Francesco Muntoni at the Institute of Child Health/ GOSH, and the UK MDEX consortium, of which Professor Dickson’s team are also a part. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


  • Muscular dystrophy
  • dystrophin
  • gene therapy
  • antisense therapy
  • RNAi therapy exon skipping
  • atherosclerosis
  • neurodegenerative disease
  • OPMD
  • DMD
  • repeat-expansion disease
  • vaccines
  • adenoviral vector
  • retroviral vector
  • adeno-associated virus vector
  • non-viral vectors
  • apolipoprotein E
  • apolipoprotein AI
  • LCAT
  • PABPN1
  • dystroglycan
  • skeletal muscle
  • utrophin

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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