Prof Vanessa Hayes

ProMis Team Leader Profile

Vanessa-HayesProf Vanessa Hayes, BSc, BSc Hons, MSc, PhD

Professor, Head of Laboratory for Human Comparative and Prostate Cancer Genomics,

Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Petre Chair of Prostate Cancer, University of Sydney

Full research profile


Prof Hayes graduated with a BSc (1992), BSc Honours (1993) and MSc degrees (1996) from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, where she started her research career in human and cancer genetics. She 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, while initiating her interest in prostate cancer.

In 2003, she was recruited to the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney where she led a Cancer Genetics group with a major focus defining prostate cancer genetic risk factors in Australian men. During this time she was awarded 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). In 2008 she moved to the Children’s Cancer Institute of Australia to establish a research laboratory in genomics, acquiring one of the countries first next generation sequencers. This technology was used to drive two large efforts, namely the Southern African Genome Project (Nature 2010) and the Tasmanian Devil Genome Project (PNAS 2011). During this period she was awarded a Fulbright Professional Scholarship to Penn State University, Pensylvania (2009) and ultimately resulted in her recruitment to the J. Craig Venter Institute, San Diego, in 2010 as Professor of Genomic Medicine.

She has recently returned to Australia and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in a part-time capacity and will return full-time in 2014 to take up the position of Petre Chair of Prostate Cancer, a conjoint Professorship between the Garvan Institute (The Kinghorn Cancer Centre) and the University of Sydney, and expand the newly established Human Comparative and Prostate Cancer Genomics Laboratory. Additional affiliations include Conjoint, Honorary or Membership Professorship positions at the University of New South Wales (since 2010), University of Limpopo, South Africa (since 2012), and the Cancer Disparities Program, University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Centre (since 2012). Hayes has significant expertise in genomics (whole nuclear and mitochondrial, and targeted genome), genomic technologies (high-throughput to bench-top), genetic variation and classification (in particular human cancer), genome-wide genotyping, epidemiology, bioinformatics, statistics, and prostate cancer genetics.

Dr Hayes’s research is currently funded by the United States National Institute of Health.