Emma Meaburn obtained her B.S. (hons) in human biology at King’s College London in 1999, and her M.S. in human molecular genetics from Imperial College London in 2000. Meaburn joined the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London in 2000 as a research assistant, and completed her Ph.D. in behavioral genetics in 2005 under the supervision of Professor Robert Plomin. Meaburn’s postdoctoral research built upon and extended her Ph.D. research, identifying genetic variants associated with a range of psychopathologies and behavioral and cognitive abilities. In 2010, Meaburn was appointed a lecturer at Birkbeck University of London and senior lecturer in 2016.
Meaburn’s research is focused on understanding casual paths between genetic variation and individual differences in behavior and neurodevelopment in childhood. To address these research aims, Meaburn uses contemporary molecular genomic methodologies for genetic, epigenetic and transcriptomic investigations of population-based samples and clinical cohorts. Since joining Birkbeck, Meaburn’s research has expanded in scope to more fully characterize the spectrum of genotype-phenotype relationships, including how the environment can mediate and moderate genetic risk.
One strategy Meaburn uses to examine non-genetic mechanisms by which apparently unaffected individuals moderate inherited genetic risk is the use of phenotypically discordant identical twins. This novel approach of investigating the epigenetic and transcriptomic consequences of unmeasured environmental effects has the potential to establish a new agenda for environmental research in psychology. Her continuing work on the genetic basis of high-level cognitive abilities has real-world implications for educational practice and social policies, and dissemination and translation of Meaburn’s findings are facilitated by her membership of the Centre of Educational Neuroscience at the University College London (UCL), Birkbeck University of London and UCL Institute of Education.