10 August 2015
Professor Susan Clark FAA, Head of the Genomics and Epigenetics Division at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, is the 2015 recipient of the Professor Rob Sutherland AO Make a Difference Award. The award, which is bestowed by the Cancer Institute NSW, recognises Prof Clark’s outstanding contributions to the field of cancer epigenetics. Prof Clark’s award was presented at a gala dinner at Doltone House – Hyde Park in Sydney on Friday night.
The Professor Rob Sutherland AO Make a Difference Award commemorates the work of the late Professor Rob Sutherland AO (1947-2012), who was a leader in understanding regulation of cell division in cancer, and the inaugural Director of the Kinghorn Cancer Centre. The award recognises a researcher who has contributed a novel and lateral insight that has led to a significant shift in cancer care or research direction.
Prof Clark has an international reputation as a pioneer in cancer genetics and epigenomics, and was recently elected to the Australian Academy of Science. She is best known for her pivotal contribution to the advancement of new sequencing technologies to detect DNA methylation and histone modification, which control the organisation of chromosomes.
Prof Clark’s discoveries relating to DNA methylation patterns in normal and cancer genomes make it possible to investigate complex relationships between epigenetic alterations and gene expression in normal and cancer cells, and open the way to epigenetics-based approaches to cancer diagnosis and treatment.
“I am delighted and honoured to receive this special award,” Prof Clark says. “We in New South Wales are really very fortunate to have the support of the Cancer Institute NSW, which makes such a strong contribution to basic and translational cancer research in the state.”
Prof Clark plans to use the award’s $20 000 prize money to support her laboratory’s ongoing studies in understanding the mechanisms involved in genome and epigenome interactions. She intends to focus on how these mechanisms are disrupted in the very early stages of malignancy, in order to develop novel preventative and treatment strategies in cancer care.