Michael Nicholson

Michael Nicholson

Cross Disciplinary Research Fellow

Institute of Genetics and Cancer, University of Edinburgh

About me

Welcome. I am an applied mathematician based in Edinburgh, UK.

I am currently a Cross Disciplinary Research fellow in the CRUK Scotland Centre at the Institute of Genetics and Cancer, University of Edinburgh. In September 2024 I will move to the School of Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh as a Chancellor’s fellow in Health and Life. Please get in touch if you’re interested in undertaking an applied mathematics PhD combining mathematical modelling, data science, and cancer genomics.

I’m interested in building, developing, and applying mathematical methods to understand the mutations observed in cancer genomes. Mathematically, I adopt a stochastic process centred approach, building mechanistic models in order to quantitatively explore hypotheses, and infer fundamental mutational and evolutionary parameters. These models are then used to analyse DNA sequencing data. Biologically, I focus on how and when mutations arise in cancer, and what the consequences of certain mutations are for cancer development and progression. A list of my papers can be found on this site or on my Google Scholar page.

I am an organiser of the Mathematical Biology seminars at the School of Mathematics, University of Edinburgh.

  • Cancer evolution
  • Mutagenesis
  • Stochastic modelling & statistical inference
  • Cross Disciplinary Research Fellowship, 2020-2024

    University of Edinburgh

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, 2018-2020

    Harvard University and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

  • PhD in Physics, 2014-2018

    University of Edinburgh

  • MMath in Mathematics, 2008-2014

    University of Edinburgh


(2023). Sequential mutations in exponentially growing populations. PLOS Computational Biology.

Cite URL

(2022). Response to comment on “Genomic epidemiology of superspreading events in Austria reveals mutational dynamics and transmission properties of SARS-CoV-2”. Science Translational Medicine.


(2022). Signatures of TOP1 transcription-associated mutagenesis in cancer and germline. Nature.


(2022). Strand-resolved mutagenicity of DNA damage and repair. bioRxiv.


(2021). Breast tumours maintain a reservoir of subclonal diversity during expansion. Nature.



  • Xell Brunet-Guasch, PhD expected 2025 (co-supervised with Tibor Antal and Ian Tomlinson)


  • michael.nicholson@ed.ac.uk
  • CRUK Scotland Centre, Institute of Genetics and Cancer, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland EH4 2XU