Professor Susan Clark
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.