Susan Clark is a molecular biologist by training and completed her BSc (Hons1) degree under the supervision of Drs Ken Reed and Lyn Dalgarno at the Australian National University, ACT, Australia in 1978. She studied for PhD (1982) in Biochemistry at University of Adelaide, South Australia, mapping and sequencing human histone genes, under the supervision of Dr Julian Wells.
Susan spent her postdoctoral years at Biotechnology Australia from 1983-1988 leading studies on the first recombinant vaccine development in Australia and eukaryotic expression of human inhibin, Il-3 and GMCSF. In 1992, she returned to basic research as Group Leader of the Gene Regulation Unit at the Kanematsu Laboratories, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where she developed and implemented bisulphite sequencing for DNA methylation analysis. In 2000, she established and headed the Epigenetics Group at the Sydney Cancer Centre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and in 2004 moved her group to the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and initiated and led the growth of the Epigenetics Research Program in the Cancer Research Theme. In 2015 she was appointed the inaugural Head of the Genomics and Epigenetics Theme.
Her DNA methylation studies over the last twenty five years have initiated profound questions about the importance of epigenetics in early development and in disease, especially in cancer. Susan has made extensive ground-breaking discoveries relating to DNA methylation patterns in normal and cancer genomes, that have led to the commercialization of new methylation-based tests for early cancer detection. The techniques she pioneered in the early 1990s, including bisulphite sequencing, have revolutionised and now underpin the new era in epigen”omic” research. She was founding member of IHEC (International Human Epigenome Consortium) and led the formation and is president of the AEpiA (Australian Epigenetics Alliance).
She has a number of awards including the RPAH Research Medal (2002); the Julian Wells Medal (2003), for “outstanding contribution to gene action and genome structure”; the Ruby Payne-Scott Award (2004) for contribution of women in science; The German United Association Award for pioneering work in development of bisulphite sequencing; Australia’s “Top Ten” (NHMRC) Scientist Project Grant Award (2009); Rotary Award for Vocational Excellence (2012). She was awarded a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellowship (2014); elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (2015) and received a Cancer Institute NSW “Make a Difference award” (2015); awarded The Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Foundation: Medal of Excellence (2017), and in 2019 she was awarded a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellowship and received the NSW Premiers Prize for Excellence in Medical Biological Sciences.
Professor Sean Grimmond BSc PhD FFS RCPA obtained his PhD in pathology from the University of Queensland. He is a founding scientific fellow in The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia.
Previous appointments include the chair of medical genomics at the University of Glasgow, co-director of the Scottish Genomes Partnership, a professor of genetics at the University of Queensland, and founding director of the Queensland Centre for Medical Genomics.
Over the past 8 years, Sean has pioneered whole-genome and transciptome analysis of cancer patients, led Australia’s International Cancer Genome Consortium efforts into pancreatic, neuroendocrine and ovarian cancer, and contributed cohort-based mutational landscape studies in melanoma and oesophageal cancer. These studies have been used to resolve the mutagenic processes, driver mutations, molecular taxonomies, and potential vulnerabilities open to therapeutic exploitation in these cancer types. His current research is firmly focused on real-time omic analysis of recalcitrant cancers, testing the value of personalised therapies, and further cancer genome discovery.
Prof Hayes is the Petre Chair of Prostate Cancer Research at the University of Sydney.
Prof Hayes completed a PhD at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands in 1999, defining the genetic landscape of key regulator genes driving common human cancers. Returning to South Africa briefly, she headed a Genetics Laboratory focused on genetic risk factors associated with HIV/AIDS. Her interest in prostate cancer sparked by the late Prof Chris Heyns (1949-2014).
In 2003, she joined the Garvan Institute of Medical Research where she led a Cancer Genetics group focused on defining prostate cancer genetic risk factors in Australian men. This work awarded her the Cancer Institute of New South Wales Premier’s Award for Cancer Research Fellow (2007), an Australian Young Tall Poppy Award for Science (2008) and the Australian Academy of Science Inaugural Ruth Stephens Gani Medal for Human Genetics (2008).
Driven by advances in technology, in 2008 she moved to the Children’s Cancer Institute of Australia to establish one of the country’s first next generation sequencing research laboratories. She used this technology to drive two large efforts, namely the Southern African Genome Project (Nature 2010) and the Tasmanian Devil Genome Project (PNAS 2011). These efforts resulted in representing Australia as a Fulbright Professional Scholar (Penn State University) and a Professorship at the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego.
In 2014, Prof Hayes returned full-time to Australia and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research as the University of Sydney’s Petre Chair of Prostate Cancer Research, where she is continuing her research efforts in human comparative and prostate cancer genomics. She has maintained her interest in technology development.
Ruby CY Lin is the Genomic Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of Westmead Precinct Hub (2 teaching hospitals and 3 Medical Research Institutes) and current Vice President of the Australasian Genomic Technologies Association (AGTA). She helps organisations build academic-industry hybrid teams and has secured over $6.4 million in research funding in the disciplines of genomics, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, cancer biology, tissue and pathogen biobanking, phage banking as well as phage therapy. She was a NHMRC Peter Doherty Postdoctoral Fellow (2005-8) and UNSW Global Postdoctoral Fellow (2009-14). Her research profile and publications can be referenced at ResearchGate, ORCID and Google Scholar. She officially handles @agtaGenomics and @Iredell_lab Twitter accounts and is active on LinkedIn.
During her time as the president of AGTA (2013-5), she continued to implement co-convenors for its annual meeting with a quiet room for delegates with carer duties, ECR-MCR pairing to chair sessions and 50:50 gender balanced international and local invites. AGTA proudly continues this equity diversity and inclusion guidelines in its conferences, workshops and symposiums. She is a GEDI (Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) committee member of AAMRI (Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes), part of UNSW Women in Research and STEM Women (Australian Academy of Science) and advocates for girls and women in STEMM and does pro bono career coaching. She is on the Phage Futures Advisory Board, Convenor of AGTA2022 Sunshine Coast and part of organising committee for International Genetics Congress 2023 Melbourne and International Society for Viruses of Microorganisms 2024 Cairns.
John Mattick obtained his BSc with First Class Honours from the University of Sydney and his PhD from Monash University. He undertook postdoctoral training at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He undertook his postdoctoral training at Baylor College of Medicine at the Texas Medical Center in Houston and then joined the CSIRO Division of Molecular Biology in Sydney where he developed one of the first genetically engineered vaccines.
In 1988 he was appointed the Foundation Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Queensland, where he was also Foundation Director of the ARC Special Research Centre for Molecular and Cellular Biology, the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and the Australian Genome Research Facility, as well as ARC Federation Fellow and NHMRC Australia Fellow. He also spent sabbatical periods at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Cologne and Strasbourg. In 2012 he returned to Sydney to take up the position of Executive Director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.
Professor Mattick has served on councils, advisory boards and committees of a number of research and funding organisations, including Genome Canada, the Wellcome Trust, the Human Frontier Science Program, the National Health & Medical Research Council, the Australian Health Ethics Committee, and the Human Genome Organisation.
He has made several seminal contributions to molecular biology, including delineation of the architecture and function of the fatty acid synthase complex, development of one of the first recombinant DNA-based vaccines, and genetic characterisation of bacterial surface filaments involved in host colonisation.
Over the past 20 years he has pioneered a new view of the genetic programming of humans and other complex organisms, by showing that the majority of the genome, previously considered ‘junk’, actually specifies a dynamic network of regulatory RNAs that guide differentiation and development. He has published almost 300 research articles and his work has received coverage in Nature, Science, Scientific American, New Scientist and the New York Times, among others.
Professor Mattick’s honours and awards include the inaugural Gutenberg Professorship of the University of Strasbourg, the Order of Australia and Australian Government Centenary Medal, Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Health & Medical Sciences and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, the International Union of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (IUBMB) Medal, the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) Chen Award for Distinguished Achievement in Human Genetic & Genomic Research, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterBertner Memorial Award for Distinguished Contributions to Cancer Research, and the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Lemberg Medal. He was named by NHMRC as the one of the all-time high achievers in Australian health and medical research.