Imperial College London

Professor Irene Miguel-Aliaga

Faculty of MedicineInstitute of Clinical Sciences

Professor of Genetics and Physiology



+44 (0)20 3383 3907i.miguel-aliaga Website




232ICTEM buildingHammersmith Campus






Internal organs constantly exchange signals, and can respond with profound anatomical and functional adaptations, even in fully developed organisms. Such organ plasticity results from a need to integrate and respond to both environmental information and internal state, and is key to maintaining homeostasis and driving adaptive changes. We are interested in understanding the mechanisms by which organs sense and respond to change: the molecules, cellular events and physiological adaptations involved. The intestine and its neurons are a fantastic system with which to tackle these questions. Our main experimental system is Drosophila melanogaster, but we are beginning to explore the evolutionary conservation of some of our findings in mice and humans through local and international collaborations.

Brief biography

I received a D.Phil. in Genetics from the University of Oxford, UK, where I developed invertebrate models of human disease with Prof. Dame Kay E. Davies. My postdoctoral work with Prof. Stefan Thor, first at Harvard, USA and then Linkoping University, Sweden, identified the first genetically defined enteric neurons in Drosophila. I was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship to undertake further postdoctoral work with Prof. Alex Gould at NIMR, London, where I uncovered similarities between the specification of gut-innervating insulin-producing neurons in flies and pancreatic beta cells in mammals. In 2008, I obtained an independent Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellowship to capitalize on the study of the enteric nervous system in Drosophila, first at the University of Cambridge and now in London. I was elected to the EMBO YIP programme in 2012 and to EMBO in 2017. I also received an ERC Starting Grant and, more recently, an ERC Advanced Grant. I am currently a Programme Leader and Section Chair (Genes and Metabolism Section) at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences, and Professor of Genetics and Physiology at Imperial College London.

Honours and Awards

(2018) Suffrage Science Women In Science Award. (2018) ERC Advanced Grant. (2017) Elected to EMBO. (2015) Featured in the Physiological Society’s “Women Physiologists” book, and by the Journal of Cell Science as one of four “cell scientists to watch”. (2012–2014) Elected to EMBO Young Investigator Programme (EMBO YIP). (2008–2014) Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellowship. (2008) Royal Society University Research Fellowship (turned down in favour of RCDF). (2005–2007) EU Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship. (1998) University of Oxford Goodger Scholarship. (1997-1998) “La Caixa”-British Council award. (1997) Spanish Ministry of Education and Science prize: Best National Academic Record and UAB Prize for the best academic record. (1996) Spanish Ministry of Education and Science Studentship.

Main funding

(2018-2023) ERC Advanced Grant. “IntraGutSex”. (2016-2021) MRC core grant “Gut Signalling and Metabolism”. (2016-2019) BBSRC Project grant. “A new vessel in the fleet: exploring how enteric tracheal plasticity drives metabolic adaptation in Drosophila”.

Public engagement

04/2018       Imperial Festival. We contributed an interactive installation to demonstrate the use of Drosophila to replace and reduce animal experimentation.

10/2016        “Brainy Tongue: The Sensory Logic of the Gastronomic Brain" workshop (San Sebastian, Spain), featuring world-renowned chefs and neurobiologists. Included open session featured by media worldwide (e.g.

02/2016        BBC Radio 4 interview (

02/2016        Hudry et al. featured by The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, Medical News Today, i (the paper for today), Press and Journal (Scotland), Medical Xpress, Yahoo! News,, Irish Examiner, The Conversation.

02/2016        Lab stand at the “Imperial Fringe: Food of Tomorrow” public engagement event.

01/2016        My lab contributed a talk to the University of the Third Age visit.

10/2015        Hosted Minister for the Life Sciences George Freeman during his visit to the LMS. In the lab, we showed him how flies can be used to study obesity and cancer.

07/2015        Reiff et al. featured by New Scientist, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mirror, Evening Standard, Metro, CBS News, Irish Independent, SBS and 9 News (amongst others).

03/2014        Contributed video to New York Imagine Science Films Festival (

01/2014        Joint MRC / University of the Arts London workshop “Fabrics of Life” (

Since 2013    Microscopy demonstrations (Drosophila life cycle) to primary school children.

07/2012        Contributed images to “The Cell: An Image Library” (

03/2012        My lab contributed a video to the University of Cambridge “Under the microscope” series, accessible on YouTube (

03/2011        BBC audio slideshow (

03/2011        Cambridge Science Festival. Organiser of the event “Playing with the entrails of fruit flies”.

01/2011        Cognigni et al. featured by New Scientist, Times Higher Education, CBS News, Le Point, Discover Magazine, Times of India (amongst others).              

01/2010        Contributed images to the University of Cambridge’s 800th anniversary light show. One of them was also the exclusive image used for the posters and flyers advertising the event.

01/2010        Interviewed by ITV Anglia (800th anniversary feature).

2001/02        Freelance writer (press releases) for the scientific journal Neuron.    



Milona A, Massafra V, Vos H, et al., 2019, Steroidogenic control of liver metabolism through a nuclear receptor-network, Molecular Metabolism, Vol:30, ISSN:2212-8778, Pages:221-229

Hudry B, de Goeij E, Mineo A, et al., 2019, Sex differences in intestinal carbohydrate metabolism promote food intake and sperm maturation, Cell, Vol:178, ISSN:0092-8674, Pages:901-918.e16

Miguel-Aliaga I, Jasper H, Lemaitre B, 2018, Anatomy and physiology of the digestive tract of drosophila melanogaster, Genetics, Vol:210, ISSN:0016-6731, Pages:357-396

Grmai L, Hudry B, Miguel-Aliaga I, et al., 2018, Chinmo prevents transformer alternative splicing to maintain male sex identity, Plos Genetics, Vol:14, ISSN:1553-7390, Pages:1-27

Perea D, Guiu J, Hudry B, et al., 2017, Ret receptor tyrosine kinase sustains proliferation and tissue maturation in intestinal epithelia., Embo Journal, Vol:36, ISSN:0261-4189, Pages:3029-3045

More Publications