Shiva M. Singh
Department of Biology
The University of Western Ontario, Molecular Genetics Unit, London, Ontario, Canada
Shiva Murti Singh was born (January 28, 1943) in Jaunpur district of the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Following early rural education, he completed his bachelor (Gorakhpur University, Bronze Medal, 1963) and master?s (Agra University, Gold Medal, 1965) degrees in First Class and prestigious Scholarships. During this time he also developed a fascination for the principles of genetics that led to the completion of a Ph.D. (Genetics) degree from the University of Alberta (1970) and an appointment (1978) as Assistant Professor (Genetics) at the University of Western Ontario London, Ontario, Canada. The ongoing revelations in genetics provided the foundation for the development of his independent research program at Western that continues to illuminate the scientific passion of Professor Singh, now a Distinguished University Professor. Here he has been resolute and authentic in genomics research, scientific mentoring, program development, teaching and administration and serving the scientific community nationally and internationally. Professor Singh is a strong proponent of the power of genetic principles and genomic technologies in unraveling biological complexity. He has shown great resolve in advancing his stimulating research and mentor outstanding trainees. His research results have offered exceptional insights into such complex neurodevelopmental disorders as schizophrenia and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), while uncovering novel genetic regulatory mechanisms including de novo mutations, developmental neuro-epigenomics and the mysteries of neurodevelopment. Specifically the results have offered an exceptional insight in brain development, the consequences when patterning goes awry and the innovative strategies for the treatment and prevention of brain disorders. His research has established that elusive variability in neurodevelopmental complexity is brought about via de novo mutations and epigenetic adjustments in response to environment and embraces the concept of nature via nurture. His research has been continuously supported by variety of national and international awards since 1978, resulted in ~290 publications in international journals, and bestowed Distinguished Research Professorship, Distinguished University Professorship, The Hellmuth Prize for outstanding achievement in research, Senior Research Fellowship of Ontario Mental Health Foundation and Grant and Moen Award of Excellence of the Genetics Society of Canada. Professor Singh?s academic career has been interdisciplinary, futurestic and collaborative. He has played leadership roles in the development of novel agendas involving university teaching, program developments in genetics and genomics, research and administration. It includes the Program in Genetics and Epigenetics and Child Health Research Institute including DNA diagnosis lab in London and University Governance as member of the University Senate and the Board of Governors. He played a vital role in advancing genetics in different roles within Western, nationally and internationally, including service as President of the Genetics Society of Canada. Importantly, every step of his career has included the mentoring of a new generation of scientists, academics, and clinicians that promise to carry his legacy into future generations. Dr. Singh?s students and trainees are acutely aware that he has found his career exceptionally rewarding and satisfying; it should be noted, though, that it is the novelty he has installed in the deciphering of genomic complexity, as well as his positive impact on his numerous mentees that are immutable.
Our research program on Human Molecular Genetics deals with genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying complex phenotypes, diseases and disorders that have evaded identification of the causal genes and mechanisms. It reflects their heterogeneity and the role of environment. Recent developments in genomics including the complete genome sequences, now allows application of novel approaches (positional candidate genes), comprehensive and encompassing hypotheses (epigenetic, nature via nurture) and whole genome based methods (copy number variations, genome expression, genome methylation, exome sequences and complete genome sequences). Such developments have allowed transformation of paradigm from a single gene to the complete genome, the mythelome, the transcriptome and the metabolome. We have argued that this change in the paradigm is essential in order to make any headway in the complex disorders, particularly involving the brain. However such studies must be considered on highly selected samples. Specifically it applies to match samples with closest match for background genotypes. They involve human families including monozygotic twins discordant for the disease and mouse strains as appropriate.