Prof John Mattick

Executive Director, Lab Head - RNA Biology and Plasticity

Senior Principal Research Fellow

John Mattick was born in Sydney in 1950. After completing his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Sydney and Monash University in 1977, he undertook postdoctoral training at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. In 1982 he returned to Australia to work at the CSIRO Division of Molecular Biology in Sydney, and in 1988 moved to the University of Queensland in Brisbane, where he was the Foundation Professor of Molecular Biology, and Foundation Director, ARC Federation Fellow and then NHMRC Australia Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

During this period he was also the Foundation Director of the Australian Genome Research Facility, the ARC Special Research Centre for Molecular & Cellular Biology and the ARC Special Research Centre for Functional & Applied Genomics. 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, 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 called type IV pili 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 over 250 research articles and his work has received coverage in Nature, Science, Scientific American, New Scientist and the New York Times, among others.

Research Interests

The role of regulatory RNAs in human development and cognition
Use of advanced sequencing and bioinformatic techniques to interrogate the human transcriptome
The role of RNA editing, transposon mobilisation and DNA recoding in brain function
The role of noncoding RNAs in cancer, and in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases

In the News

PARIS: detecting RNA structure in living cells - May 20, 2016
Landmark Lions project to provide genome sequencing to hundreds of Aussie kids with cancer - May 14, 2016
Joint Sydney research centre in the works for Garvan and Weizmann Institutes - Apr 08, 2016
Professor John Shine named an Honorary Fellow of AAHMS - Oct 12, 2015
Garvan partners with Genomics England - Sep 25, 2015
Professors Mattick and Eisman inducted into Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences - Apr 07, 2015
Professor John Mattick joins Council of Australian Academy of Science - Nov 13, 2014
Garvan Institute welcomes NSW funding of Sydney Genomics Collaborative - Jun 17, 2014
Professor John Mattick will receive 2014 Ernst W. Bertner Memorial Award - Apr 23, 2014
The future of genomic medicine has arrived in Australia - Jan 15, 2014
NHMRC Recognises John Mattick, John Shine and Peter Wills - Jan 14, 2014
Garvan receives $15.5 million in NHMRC funding round - Oct 25, 2013
Garvan Institute receives grant to research role of long non-coding RNAs in Parkinson’s disease - Oct 02, 2013
New insight into the human genome through the lens of evolution - Jul 12, 2013
The genome’s 3D structure shapes how genes are expressed - Jun 24, 2013
Garvan and St Vincent’s Welcome Critical Prostate Cancer Funding for The Kinghorn Cancer Centre - May 17, 2013
The connection between faulty neural activation and schizophrenia - Apr 30, 2013
Professor John Mattick wins prestigious HUGO Chen Award - Mar 12, 2012
Garvan announces appointment of next Executive Director - Sep 05, 2011

Awards and Honours

2012 - HUGO Chen Award for Distinguished Achievement in Genetic and Genomic Research
2011 - International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB) Medal
2009 - Julian Wells Medal, Lorne Genome Society
2008 - Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science
2008 - Inaugural Gutenberg Chair, University of Strasbourg
2007 - Associate Membership, European Molecular Biology Organization
2006 - CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science
2003 - Australian Government Centenary Medal
2002 - Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (FRCPA)
2001 - Officer in the Order of Australia (AO)
2000 - Eppendorf Achievement / Millenium Science Award, Lorne Genome Conference
1989 - Pharmacia-LKB Biotechnology Medal, Australian Biochemical Society


1978 - PhD, Monash University - Australia
1972 - BSc (First Class Honours), The University of Sydney - Australia

Selected Publications

Mercer TR, Clark MB, Neph SJ, Edwards SL, Li G, Sandhu KS, Ruan Y, Nielsen L, Mattick JS* and Stamatoyannopoulos JA* (*Joint corresponding authors). DNaseI-hypersensitive exons co-localize with promoters and distal regulatory elements. Nature Genetics 2013; 45:852–859.

Mercer TR and Mattick JS. Structure and function of long noncoding RNAs in epigenetic regulation. Nature Structural and Molecular Biology 2013; 20:300-307.

Mercer TR, Gerhardt DJ, Dinger ME, Crawford J, Trapnell C, Jeddeloh JA*, Mattick JS* and Rinn JL* (*Joint corresponding authors). Targeted RNA sequencing reveals the deep complexity of the human transcriptome. Nature Biotechnology 2012; 30:99-104.

Mercer TR, Neph S, Dinger ME, Crawford J, Smith MA, Shearwood AJ, Haugen E, Bracken CP, Rackham O, Stamatoyannopoulos JA, Filopovska A and Mattick JS. The human mitochondrial transcriptome. Cell 2011; 146:645-658.

Mattick JS. The central role of RNA in human development and cognition. FEBS Letters 2011; 585:1600–1616.

Taft RJ, Simons C, Nahkuri S, Oey H, Korbie DJ, Mercer TR, Holst J, Ritchie W, Wong JJ-L, Rasko JEJ, Rokhsar DS, Degnan BM and Mattick JS. Nuclear-localized tiny RNAs are associated with transcription initiation and splice sites in metazoans. Nature Structural and Molecular Biology 2010; 17:1030-1034.

Mercer TR, Dinger ME, Sunkin SM, Mehler MF and Mattick JS. Specific expression of non-coding RNAs in mouse brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 2008; 105:716-721.

Dinger ME, Amaral PP, Mercer TR, Pang KC, Bruce SJ, Gardiner BB, Askarian-Amiri ME, Ru K, Soldà G, Simons C, Sunkin SM, Crowe ML, Grimmond SM, Perkins AC and Mattick JS. Long noncoding RNAs in mouse embryonic stem cell pluripotency and differentiation. Genome Research 2008; 18:1433–1445.

Amaral PP, Dinger ME, Mercer TR and Mattick JS. The eukaryotic genome as an RNA machine. Science 2008; 319:1787-1789.

Pheasant M and Mattick JS. Raising the estimate of functional human sequences. Genome Research 2007; 17:1245-1253.

Taft RJ, Pheasant M and Mattick JS. The relationship between non-protein-coding DNA and eukaryotic complexity. Bioessays 2007; 29:288-299. 

Bejerano G, Pheasant M, Makunin IV, Stephen S, Kent WJ, Mattick JS and Haussler D. Ultra-conserved elements in the human genome. Science 2004; 304:1321-1325.

Mattick JS. RNA regulation: a new genetics? Nature Reviews Genetics 2004; 5:316-323.

Mattick JS and Gagen MJ (2001) The evolution of controlled multitasked gene networks: the role of introns and other noncoding RNAs in the development of complex organisms. Molecular Biology and Evolution 2001; 18:1611-1630.

Mattick JS. Introns - evolution and function. Current Opinion in Genetics and Development 1994; 4:823-831.

Prof John Mattick

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