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Professor John Mattick

Honorary Research Fellow

Professor John Mattick was the Garvan Institute of Medical Research's Executive Director, succeeded by Professor Chris Goodnow in 2018. John obtained his BSc with First Class Honours from the University of Sydney and his PhD from Monash University. 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. John 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. John’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 Center Bertner 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.


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