+49 351 210-1900

Max Planck Institute of Molecular
Cell Biology and Genetics
- Harrington -

Pfotenhauerstr. 108
01307 Dresden

Heather Harrington

Group Leader

My research focuses on the problem of reconciling models and data by extracting information about the structure of models and the shape of data. To develop these methods, we combine techniques from a variety of disciplines such as computational algebraic geometry and computational topology, statistics, optimization, network theory, and systems biology.

I always enjoyed mathematics, but also was curious about medicine. I learned that it is possible to combine mathematics to study biology and medicine in university, and continued these directions, specifically reconciling mathematical models and data. If we can understand how biology works at the genetic/molecular/cellular scale, as well as what goes wrong in disease, then we may be able to use mathematics to help design drug therapies.

Scientific Career

since Oct. 2023

Director and Research Group Leader at the MPI-CBG and the Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD)

since 2020

Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford

since 2020

Associate Group Leader Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford

2017 – 2020

Associate Professor at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford

since 2013

Research Fellow at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford

2010 – 2013

Postdoctoral research associate. Theoretical Systems Biology, Imperial College London
Developing mathematical/statistical models and methods.

2006 – 2010

PhD, Department of Mathematics, Supervisors: Jaroslav Stark and Dorothy Buck, Imperial College London

May 2006

BS, Applied Mathematics, summa cum laude, University of Massachusetts Amherst



Philip Leverhulme Prize in Mathematics and Statistics


University of Cambridge Adams Prize: Mathematics of Networks


London Mathematical Society Whitehead Prize

Awards and Fellowships

2023 – 2025

Royal Society University Research Fellowship Renewal

2018 – 2022

Research Fellow in Mathematics and the Sciences, St John’s College, Oxford

2018 – 2021

Alan Turing Institute Fellowship

2017 – 2022

Royal Society University Research Fellowship

2013 – 2016

EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellowship

2013 – 2016

Junior Research Fellowship, St Cross College

2007 – 2010

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (awarded based on research proposal)

2006 – 2009

Imperial College Deputy Rector’s Award (ORS based on research proposal)


Finished in top five in Mathematics (ranking not released), Univ of Mass Amherst

2005 – 2006

Student Leadership Award. 21st Century Award. Univ of Mass Amherst

2005 – 2006

Massachusetts Women in Public Higher Education Outstanding Achievement Award

2005 – 2006

Goldwater Scholar (Barry M. Goldwater and Excellence in Education Program)