Dr Barry Denholm

Our research aims to understand the processes that ‘make and shape’ organs during animal development.

Dr Barry Denholm

Senior Lecturer

Hugh Robson Building

15 George Square

Edinburgh EH8 9XD

Contact details

 Work: +44 (0)131 650 9880

 Email: Barry.Denholm@ed.ac.uk

 Web: Denholm lab website

Personal profile

  • 2014 - present: Lecturer, University of Edinburgh
  • 2010 - 2014: Kidney Research UK Research Fellow, University of Cambridge
  • 2001 - 2010: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Cambridge
  • 2000 - 2001: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Sheffield
  • 1996 - 2000: Ph.D. Developmental Genetics, University of Leicester
  • 1992 - 1995: B.Sc., Genetics, University of Leicester

Research Theme


We are interested in how organ form and function emerge during development. The types of question we ask include: how are organ size and shape controlled; how are cell and tissue polarity established; what makes cells become different and adopt specialised functions; and, how do these functions integrate to produce the emergent properties of the organ.

We focus on simple organs in Drosophila (the heart and excretory system), which have the advantage of being easy to manipulate experimentally yet share many features with the more complex organs found in vertebrates.

Our goal is to reveal fundamental aspects of organogenesis and apply this knowledge to help us understand the organs of our own body, and to learn something about what goes wrong during disease.


Team members


Selected publications

Beaven, R. and Denholm, B (2018) Release and spread of Wingless is required to pattern the proximo-distal axis of Drosophila renal tubules eLife 2018;7:e35373

Saxena, A.*, Denholm, B.*, Bunt, S., Bischoff, M., VijayRaghavan, K. and Skaer, H. (2014) Epidermal Growth Factor Signalling Controls Myosin II Planar Polarity to Orchestrate Convergent Extension Movements during Drosophila Tubulogenesis. PLoS Biol 12(12):e1002013

King, B. and Denholm, B.¶ (2014) Malpighian tubule development in the red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum). Arthropod Structure & Development 43(6):605-13

Denholm, B.*¶, Hu, N*., Fauquier, T., Caubit, X., Fasano, L., and Skaer, H¶,. (2013) The teashirt/tiptop genes regulate cell differentiation and renal physiology in Drosophila. Development 140(5): 1100-1110

Denholm, B. ¶ (2013) Shaping up for action: the path to physiological maturation in the renal tubules of Drosophila. Organogenesis 9(1)

Pulver, S.*, Cognigni P.*, Denholm, B.*, Fabre, C.*, Gu, W.*, Linneweber, G.*, Prieto-Godino, L.*, Urbancic, V.*, Zwart, M.*, and Miguel-Aliaga, I*. (2011) Why flies? Inexpensive public engagement exercises to explain the value of basic biomedical research on Drosophila meleanogaster. Advances in Physiology education 35: 384-392

Weavers, H, Prieto-Sánchez, S, Grawe, F, Garcia-López, A, Artero, R, Wilsch-Bräuninger, M, Ruiz-Gómez, M, Skaer, H, Denholm, B. ¶ (2009). The insect nephrocyte is a podocyte-like cell with a filtration slit diaphragm. Nature 457: 322-326

Simões S, Denholm B., Sotillos S, Martin P, Skaer H, Castelli-Gair Hombría J, and Jacinto A. (2006). Compartmentalization of Rho regulators directs cell invagination during tissue morphogenesis. Development 133(21): 4257-67

Denholm B., Brown S, Ray RP, Ruiz-Gomez M, Skaer H, Hombria JC. (2005).crossveinless-c is a RhoGAP required for actin reorganisation during morphogenesis. Development 132(10):2389-400

Denholm, B. and Skaer, H. (2005). Development of Malpighian tubules in insects. In Comprehensive Molecular Insect Science, Vol 2 (ed. L.I. Gilbert, S. Gill and K. Iatrou), pp. 291-314. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.

Denholm B., Sudarsan V, Pasalodos-Sanchez S, Artero R, Lawrence P, Maddrell S, Baylies M, Skaer H. (2003). Dual origin of the renal tubules in Drosophila: mesodermal cells integrate and polarize to establish secretory function. Current Biology. 13(12):1052-7

* equal contribution, ¶ corresponding author

Barry Denholm publication list (PDF)

Information for students:

Willingness to discuss research projects with undergraduate and postgraduate students: YES - please click here