Professor Nigel Laing AO, FAHMS, FFScRCPA, FHGSA, PhD

Laboratory Head, Neurogenetic DiseaseProfessor Nigel Laing
T:   +61 8 6151 0741


Professor Nigel Laing was born in Scotland and obtained both his BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology (1976) and PhD in Physiology (1979) from the University of Edinburgh. He spent one year as a Post-doc at the University of Oslo (1980) before coming to The University of Western Australia in January 1981.

His PhD and early career research was as a developmental neurobiologist investigating how motor neurons and muscles interact and determine each other's properties in the developing embryo. For a 12-month period, July 1987 to June 1988, Professor Laing re-trained in molecular genetics with Professor Teepu Siddique in Professor Allen Roses' Laboratory at Duke University North Carolina.

Returning to Western Australia in 1988, Professor Laing had the two tasks of developing molecular neurogenetic research and molecular neurogenetic diagnostics at The Australian Neuromuscular Research Institute and Royal Perth Hospital respectively.  He successfully investigated Australian families with mostly dominantly inherited diseases, playing a role in identifying mutations in SOD1 as a cause of familial motor neuron disease, mutations in tropomyosin as the first known cause of nemaline myopathy, mutations in actin as a major cause of severe congenital myopathies of various types and mutations in myosin as the cause of "Laing" myopathy.

In 2015 Professor Laing was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in the General Division (AO).

Professor Laing continues to hunt human disease genes, while now working towards developing possible treatments for some of the diseases he has identified, developing better diagnostics and implementing public health programs to prevent genetic disease.

Research interests

  • Identification of disease genes for genetic muscle and neurological disorders.
    This research in the Laboratory is currently funded by the 5-year NHMRC Project Grant APP1080587 "Identifying disease genes for neurogenetic disorders using next generation sequencing" 2015-2019.
    This project grant led by the Neurogenetic Diseases Laboratory is a collaboration with the Institute for Neuroscience and Muscle Research (INMR) Sydney University, Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) Melbourne, Monash University, Melbourne and the Broad Institute, Boston.
  • Development of improved diagnostics
    This research in the Laboratory is currently funded by the NH&MRC Targeted call for Research into Preparing Australia for the Genomics Revolution in Health Care: Australian Genomics Health Alliance APP1113531 $25m grant (2016-2020)
  • Development of treatments for genetic muscle diseases
    This research is funded by grants from the Association Francaise contre les Myopathies and the Foundation Building Strength for Nemaline Myopathy
  • Prevention of Genetic Diseases
    This research in the Laboratory is currently funded by the NH&MRC Targeted call for Research into Preparing Australia for the Genomics Revolution in Health Care: Australian Genomics Health Alliance APP1113531 $25m grant (2016-2020)

Selected publications

  1. Laing NG, Majda BT, Akkari PA, Layton MG, Mulley JC, Phillips H, Haan EA, White SJ, Beggs AH, Kunkel LM, Groth DM, Boundy KL, Kneebone CS, Blumbergs PC, Wilton SD, Speer MC, Kakulas BA. 1992. Assignment of a gene (NEM1) for autosomal dominant nemaline myopathy to chromosome 1. Am J Hum Genet 50:576-583. [NCBI PubMed Entry] [IF 11.6]

  2. Rosen DR, Siddique T, Patterson D, Figlewicz DA, Sapp P, Hentati A, Donaldson D, Goto J, O'Regan JP, Deng H-X, Rahmani Z, Krizus A, McKenna-Yasek D, Cayabyab A, Gaston S, Tanzi R, Halperin JJ, Herzfeldt B, Van den Berg R, Hung W-Y, Bird T, Deng G, Mulder DW, Smyth C, Laing NG, Soriano E, Pericak-Vance MA, Haines J, Rouleau GA, Gusella J, Horvitz HR, Brown Jr RH. 1993. Mutations in the gene encoding Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase are associated with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Nature 362:59-62. [NCBI PubMed Entry] [IF 31.0]

  3. Laing NG, Wilton SD, Akkari PA, Dorosz S, Boundy K, Kneebone C, Blumbergs P, White S, Watkins H, Love DR, Haan E. 1995. A mutation in the alpha tropomyosin gene TPM3 associated with autosomal dominant nemaline myopathy NEM1. Nature Genetics 9:75-79. [NCBI PubMed Entry] [IF 26.5]

  4. Pelin K, Hilpelä P, Donner K, Sewry C, Akkari PA, Wilton SD, Wattanasirichaigoon D, Centner T, Hanefeld F, Odent S, Fardeau M, Urtizberea JA, Muntoni F, Dubowitz V, Beggs AH, Laing NG, Labeit S, de la Chapelle A, Wallgren-Pettersson C. 1999. Mutations in the nebulin gene associated with autosomal recessive nemaline myopathy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 96:2305-2310. [NCBI PubMed Entry] [IF 10.3]

  5. Nowak KJ, Wattanasirichaigoon D, Goebel HH, Wilce M, Pelin K, Donner K, Jacob RL, Hubner C, Oexle K, Anderson JR, Verity CM, North KN, Iannaccone ST, Muller CR, Nurnberg P, Muntoni F, Sewry C, Hughes I, Sutphen R, Lacson AG, Swoboda KJ, Vigneron J, Wallgren-Pettersson C, Beggs AH, Laing NG. 1999. Mutations in the skeletal muscle alpha-actin gene in patients with actin myopathy and nemaline myopathy. Nature Genetics 23:208-12. [NCBI PubMed Entry] [IF 30.7]

  6. Nürnberg P, Thiele H, Chandler D, Höhne W, Cunningham ML, Ritter H, Leschik G, Uhlmann K, Mischung C, Harrop K, Goldblatt G, Borochowitz ZU, Kotzot D, Westermann F, Mundlos S, Braun H-S, Laing N, Tinschert S. 2001. Heterozygous mutations in ANKH, the human ortholog of the mouse progressive ankylosis gene result in craniometaphyseal dysplasia. Nature Genetics 28:37-41. [NCBI PubMed Entry] [IF 26.5]

  7. Meredith C, Herrmann R, Parry C, Liyanage K, Dye DE, Durling HJ, Duff RM, Beckman K, De Visser M, Van Der Graaff MM, Hedera P, Fink JK, Petty EM, Lamont P, Fabian V, Bridges L, Voit T, Mastaglia FL, Laing NG. 2004. Mutations in the Slow Skeletal Muscle Fiber Myosin Heavy Chain Gene (MYH7) Cause Laing Early-Onset Distal Myopathy (MPD1). Am J Hum Genet 75:703-8. [NCBI PubMed Entry] [IF 11.6]

  8. Laing NG, Clarke NF, Dye DE, Liyanage K, Walker KR, Kobayashi Y, Shimakawa S, Hagiwara T, Ouvrier R, Sparrow JC, Nishino I, North KN, Nonaka I. 2004. Actin mutations are one cause of congenital fibre type disproportion. Annals of Neurology 56:689-694. [NCBI PubMed Entry] [IF 7.7]

  9. Nowak KJ, Sewry CA, Navarro C, Squier W, Reina C, Ricoy JR, Jayawant SS, Childs AM, Dobbie JA, Appleton, RE, Mountford RC, Walker KR, Clement S, Barois A, Muntoni F, Romero NB, Laing NG. 2007. Nemaline myopathy caused by absence of alpha-skeletal muscle actin. Annals of Neurology 61:175-184. [NCBI PubMed Entry] [IF 7.6]

  10. Nowak KJ, Ravenscroft G, Jackaman C, Filipovska A, Davies SM, Lim EM, Squire SE, Potter AC, Baker E, Clement S, Sewry CA, Fabian V, Crawford K, Lessard JL, Griffiths LM, Papadimitriou JM, Shen Y, Morahan G, Bakker AJ, Davies KE, Laing NG. 2009. Rescue of skeletal muscle {alpha}-actin-null mice by cardiac (fetal) {alpha}-actin. The Journal of cell biology 185:903-915. [NCBI PubMed Entry] [IF 9.6]

  11. Ravenscroft G, Miyatake S, Lehtokari VL, Todd EJ, Vornanen P, Yau KS, Hayashi YK, Miyake N, Tsurusaki Y, Doi H, Saitsu H, Osaka H, Yamashita S, Ohya T, Sakamoto Y, Koshimizu E, Imamura S, Yamashita M, Ogata K, Shiina M, Bryson-Richardson RJ, Vaz R, Ceyhan O, Brownstein CA, Swanson LC, Monnot S, Romero NB, Amthor H, Kresoje N, Sivadorai P, Kiraly-Borri C, Haliloglu G, Talim B, Orhan D, Kale G, Charles AK, Fabian VA, Davis MR, Lammens M, Sewry CA, Manzur A, Muntoni F, Clarke NF, North KN, Bertini E, Nevo Y, Willichowski E, Silberg IE, Topaloglu H, Beggs AH, Allcock RJ, Nishino I, Wallgren-Pettersson C, Matsumoto N, Laing NG. 2013. Mutations in KLHL40 Are a Frequent Cause of Severe Autosomal-Recessive Nemaline Myopathy. American Journal of Human Genetics 93(1):6-18. [NCBI PubMed Entry]

  12. Ravenscroft, G., F. Nolent, S. Rajagopalan, A. M. Meireles, K. J. Paavola, D. Gaillard, E. Alanio, M. Buckland, S. Arbuckle, M. Krivanek, J. Maluenda, S. Pannell, R. Gooding, R. W. Ong, R. J. Allcock, E. D. Carvalho, M. D. Carvalho, F. Kok, W. S. Talbot, J. Melki and N. G. Laing (2015). "Mutations of GPR126 Are Responsible for Severe Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita." Am J Hum Genet 96(6): 955-961. [NCBI PubMed Entry]

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