Prof Vanessa Hayes

Lab Head - Human Comparative and Prostate Cancer Genomics

Conjoint/Adjunct Role(s)

Petre Chair of Prostate Cancer Research, University of Sydney
Adjunct Professor of Medical Genomics, J. Craig Venter Institute, USA
Honorary Professor of Medical Sciences, University of Limpopo, South Africa
Conjoint Professor of Medicine, St Vincent's Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW, Australia

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 countries 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.

Research Interests

Human genomics
Human diversity
Genome Mapping
Prostate cancer
Cancer disparities
Cancer genomics
Genetic epidemiology
Population genetics
Human evolution
Human migration
Human adaptation
Southern Africa
Indigenous genomics
Mitochondrial genomics
Genomic technology


1999 - PhD (Cancer Genetics), University of Groningen, The Netherlands
1995 - MSc (Human Genetics), University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
1993 - BSc Honours (Human Genetics), University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
1992 - BSc, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

Selected Publications

Tindall EA, Monare LR, van Zyl S, Petersen DC, Hardie R-A, Segone AM, Venter PA, Bornman MSR, Hayes VM. Clinical presentation of prostate cancer in Black South Africans. The Prostate, (2014) 74(8):880-91.

Pang AWC, MacDonald JR, Yuen RKC, Hayes VM, Scherer SW. Performance of high-throughput sequencing for the discovery of genetic variation across the complete size spectrum. Genes Genomes Genetics (2014), 4:63-65.

Tindall EA, Bornman MSR, van Zyl S, Petersen DC, Segone AM, Monare LR, Venter PA, Hayes VM. Epidemiological and genetic factors contributing to increased prostate cancer risk and aggressive disease in southern Africa. BMC Urology (2013), 13:74.

Petersen DC, Libiger O, Tindall EA, Hardie R-A, Hannick LI, Glashoff RH, Mukerji M, Indian Genome Variation Consortium, Fernandez P, Haacke W, Schork NJ and Hayes VM. Complex patterns of genomic admixture within southern Africa. PLoS Genetics (2013), 9(3):e1003309.

Saunders DN, Tindall EA, Shearer RF, Roberson J, Decker A, Amos Wilson J, Hayes VM. A novel SERPINA1 mutation causing serum Alpha1-Antitrypsin Deficiency. PLoS One (2012), 7(12):e51762.

Tindall EA, Severi G, Hoang HN, Southey MC, English DR, Hopper JL, Giles GG, Australian Prostate Cancer BioResource, Hayes VM. Interleukin-6 promoter variants, prostate cancer risk and survival. Prostate (2012), 72(16):1701-7.

Hayes VM. Indigenous genomics. Science (2011) May 6; 332(6030):639.

Miller W*, Hayes VM*, Ratan A, Petersen DC, Wittekindt NE, Miller J, Walenz B, Knight J, Qi J, Zhao F, Wang Q, Bedoya O, Katiyar N, Tomsho LP, Kasson LM, Hardie R-A, Woodbridge P, Tindall EA, Bertelsen MF, Dixon D, Pyecroft S, Helgen KM, Lesk AM, Pringle TH, Patterson N, Zhang Y, Kreiss A, Woods GM, Jones ME, Schuster SC*. Genetic diversity and population structure of the endangered marsupial Sarcophilus harrisii (Tasmanian devil). Proceedings of National Academy of Science USA (2011) 108(30):12348-53. NOTE: *Co-corresponding author

Hayes VM, Venter PA, Mphahlele J. Helping hand for genomics in Africa. Nature (2011) 476 (7359):152.

Tindall EA, Petersen DC, Nikolaysen S, Miller W, Schuster SC, Hayes VM. Interpretation of custom designed Illumina genotype cluster plots for targeted association studies and next-generation sequence validation. BMC Research Notes (2010) 3(1):39.

Tindall EA, Severi G, Hoang HN, Ma CS, Fernandez P, Southey MC, English DR, Hopper JL, Heyns CF, Tangye SG, Giles GG, Hayes VM. Comprehensive analysis of the cytokine rich 5q31 region suggests a role for IL-4 gene variants in prostate cancer risk. Carcinogenesis (2010), 31(10):1748-54.

Schuster SC, Miller W, Ratan A, Tomsho LP, Giardine B, Kasson LR, Harris RS, Petersen DC, Zhao F, Qi J, Alkan C, Kidd JM, Sun Y, Drautz DI, Bouffard P, Muzny DM, Reid JG, Nazareth LV, Wang Q, Burhans R, Riemer C, Wittekindt NE, Moorjani1 P, Tindall EA, Danko CG, Siang Teo W, Buboltz A, Zhang Z, Ma Q, Oosthuysen A, Steenkamp A, Oostuisen H, Venter P, Gajewski J, Zhang Y, Pugh BF, Makova KD, Nekrutenko A, Mardis ER, Patterson N, Pringle TH, Chiaromonte F, Mullikin JC, Eichler EE, Hardison RC, Gibbs RA, Harkins TT, Hayes VM. Complete Khoisan and Bantu Genomes from Southern Africa. Nature (2010) 463(7283):943-7.

Tindall EA, Hayes VM. Comprehensive sequence analysis of the human IL23A gene defines new variation content and a high rate of evolutionary conservation. DNA Research (2010) 17(2):117-22.

Tindall EA, Hoang HN, Southey MC, English DR, Hopper JL, Giles GG, Severi G, Hayes VM. The 4q27 locus and familial prostate cancer risk. BMC Cancer (2010) 10(1):69.

Patterson N, Petersen DC, van der Ross RE, Sudoyo H, Glashoff RH, Marzuki S, Reich D, Hayes VM. Genetic structure of a unique admixed population: implications for medical research. Human Molecular Genetics (2010) 19:411-419.

Prof Vanessa Hayes

Collaborative Program

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