Ewan Birney

Ewan Birney
Director of EMBL-EBI and Senior Scientist

Ewan Birney is Director of EMBL-EBI with Dr Rolf Apweiler, and runs a small research group. He played a vital role in annotating the genome sequences of human, mouse, chicken and several other organisms; this work has had a profound impact on our understanding of genomic biology. He led the analysis group for the ENCODE project, which is defining functional elements in the human genome. Ewan’s main areas of research include functional genomics, assembly algorithms, statistical methods to analyse genomic information (in particular information associated with individual differences) and compression of sequence information.

Ewan completed his PhD at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute with Richard Durbin, and worked in the laboratories of leading scientists Adrian Krainer, Toby Gibson and Iain Campbell. He has received a number of prestigious awards including the 2003 Francis Crick Award from the Royal Society, the 2005 Overton Prize from the International Society for Computational Biology and the 2005 Benjamin Franklin Award for contributions in Open Source Bioinformatics. Ewan was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014 and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2015.

Ewan is a non-executive Director of Genomics England, and is a consultant and advisor to a number of companies, including Oxford Nanopore Technologies and GSK.

ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8314-8497

Tel:01223 49 4648 / Fax:+44 (0)1223 494 468


Find out about research activity in the Birney research group

Birney projects

There are two teams involved in EBI Services that report directly to Ewan Birney. The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) is the global authority for assigning human gene names and the group coordinator, Elspeth Bruford, reports directly to Ewan. The Technology & Science Integration team focuses on exploring new technologies for service provision, in particular in the context of pan-European initiatives.




Team members

  • Bryony Braschi
  • Elspeth Bruford
  • Niamh Campbell
  • Kristian Gray
  • Tamsin Jones
  • Rishi Nag
  • Julio Saez-Rodriguez
  • Ionel Sandovici
  • Ruth Seal
  • Susan Tweedie
  • Bethan  Yates