Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR)


Professor Nigel Laing

Nigel Laing

Phone: +61 8 9346 4611
Email: nigel.laing@waimr.uwa.edu.au

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. Professor Laing 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.

Professor Laing continues to hunt human disease genes, while now working towards developing possible treatments for some of the diseases he has identified.


1976BSc (Hons, first class) - Pharmacology, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
1979PhD - Department of Physiology, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
Thesis Title: "Muscle activity as a factor controlling motor neuron number in the chicken embryo"
2002FHGSA (Molecular Genetics) - Fellow of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia

Research Interests

  • Identification of disease genes for genetic muscle and neurological disorders.
  • Development of treatments for genetic muscle diseases.

Scientific Involvement

  • European Neuromuscular Centre (ENMC) International Consortium on Nemaline Myopathy and Related Disorders - Co-convenor 1996 onwards.
  • World Muscle Society - Member of Executive Board 1997 to 1999 and 2004 onwards.
  • World Muscle Society - Chair Local Organising Committee WMS Annual Congress 2012, Perth, Western Australia. (October 9th - 13th)
  • "Neuromuscular Disorders" - Member of Editorial Board 1999 onwards, Associate Editor 2009 onwards.
  • World Federation of Neurology Research Group on Neuromuscular Diseases - Executive Committee Member 2002 onwards.

Top 10 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]