Prof Susan Clark, BSc (Hons1), PhD
Professor, Head of the laboratory for Epigenetics Research
Acting Head Cancer Research Division,
The Kinghorn Cancer Centre
Prof Clark has a highly acclaimed international reputation for her work in cancer epigenetics. Prof Clark is currently Acting Director, Cancer Division, The Kinghorn Cancer Centre and also heads the Cancer Epigenetics Program at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. She graduated in 1982 with a PhD in Biochemistry, University of Adelaide and then spent 10 years in Genetic Technology before returning to basic research in gene regulation in 1992. Her studies over the last twenty years have initiated profound questions about the importance of epigenetics in early development and in disease, especially in cancer.
Prof Clark has made ground-breaking discoveries relating to DNA methylation patterns in normal and cancer genomes, that have led to the commercialisation 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 a new era in epigen”omic” research. She was founding member of IHEC (International Human Epigenome Consortium) and led the formation of the AEpiA (Australian Epigenetics Alliance). She has a number of awards including the RPAH Research Medal in 2002, Julian Wells Medal in 2003, “Biochemisch Analytik Preis” for outstanding contribution for Methylation analysis in 2004. In 2006 was elected a Fellow of the World Technology Network for Biotechnology, in 2009 was awarded one ofAustralia’s “Top Ten” National Health and Medical Research (NHMRC) Project Scientists and the Rotary Award for Vocational Excellence in 2012.
Prof Clark’s research is now focused on the development of next generation epigenome sequencing technologies and development of bioinformatics tools to analyse and integrate epigenetic landscapes in both normal and prostate cancer cells. Epigenetic information determines the structure of DNA, that is how DNA is organised in the cell and determines which genes or noncoding RNAs are expressed in normal development but it can also be influenced by environmental factors and potentially inherited between generations providing risk factors for development of cancer.
Prof Clark’s current work is aimed at understanding how the pattern of spatial and temporal epigenetic processes are controlled, and how disruption of these processes contributes to cancer and other diseases; to mediate the translation of this knowledge into the clinical setting to improve health outcomes, through development of epigenetic-based biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets; and to foster opportunities for talented researchers to build their careers in cancer epigenomic research in Australia.