Dr Clare Stirzaker

Group Leader - Epigenetic Deregulation in Cancer

Senior Research Officer

Conjoint/Adjunct Role(s)

Conjoint Senior Lecturer, St Vincent's Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Australia

Clare completed her Bachelor of Science majoring in Biochemistry and Microbiology, and her Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Molecular Biology,  at the University of Cape Town, South Africa,  before completing  her PhD at Macquarie University, Sydney, graduating in 1990. 

Clare became fascinated by the field of Epigenetics and joined the group of Prof Susan Clark as a post-doc at the Kanematsu Laboratories, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, in Sydney and later, at the Sydney Cancer Centre at Sydney University. The group moved to the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in 2004, where an Epigenetics Group was established within the Cancer Program.  Clare has since established her own group, which is interested in understanding "Epigenetic Deregulation in Cancer."

Clare has played a major role in delivery of many of the milestones in epigenetic research.  She has made highly significant contributions to the field of DNA methylation and epigenetic deregulation in cancer and has also played an integral role in developing new epigenetic technologies that have underpinned many of the seminal findings of the group.

Clare is involved in a number of collaborative projects which include an NBCF project grant  ‘Enabling Clinical Epigenetic Diagnostics:  The Next Generation of Personalised Breast Cancer Care’ and an NHMRC project grant  with Monash University ‘Defining Epigenetic Changes in Prostate Cancer Stroma.’

Research Interests

DNA methylation and chromatin remodelling in cancer
Understanding the mechanism of epigenetic deregulation in cancer
Role of epigenetic modifier protein MBD2 in triggering spread of DNA methylation
Role of 5hmC in DNA demethylation in cancer
Epigenome technology development: ChIP-seq, whole-genome bisulphite sequencing, MBDCap-seq, 450K arrays, RNA-seq, 5hmC


1990 - PhD, Macquarie University, Sydney - Australia
1982 - BSc First Class Honours (Major: Molecular Biology), University of Cape Town - South Africa
1981 - BSc (Majors: Biochemistry and Microbiology), University of Cape Town - South Africa

Selected Publications

BLUEPRINT consortium. Quantitative comparison of DNA methylation assays for biomarker development and clinical applications. Nat Biotechnol 2016; epub ahead of print

Taberlay PC, Achinger-Kawecka J, Lun AT, Buske FA, Sabir K, Gould CM, Zotenko E, Bert SA, Giles KA, Bauer DC, Smyth GK, Stirzaker C, O'Donoghue SI, Clark SJ. Three-dimensional disorganisation of the cancer genome occurs coincident with long-range genetic and epigenetic alterations. Genome Res 2016; 26:719-31

Stone A, Zotenko E, Locke WJ, Korbie D, Millar EK, Pidsley R, Stirzaker C, Graham P, Trau M, Musgrove EA, Nicholson RI, Gee JM, Clark SJ. DNA methylation of oestrgen-regulated enhancers defines endocrine sensitivity in breast cancer. Nat Commun 2015; 6:7758

Stirzaker C, Zotenko E, Clark SJ. Genome-wide DNA methylation profiling in triple-negative breast cancer reveals epigenetic signatures with important clinical value. Mol Cell Oncol 2015; 3:e1038424

Stirzaker C*, Zotenko E*, Song JZ, Qu W, Nair SS, Locke WJ, Stone A, Armstong NJ, Robinson MD, Dobrovic A, Avery-Kiejda KA, Peters KM, French JD, Stein S, Korbie DJ, Trau M, Forbes JF, Scott RJ, Brown MA, Francis GD, Clark SJ. Methylome sequencing in triple-negative breast cancer reveals distinct methylation clusters with prognostic value.  Nat Comm 2015; 6:5899 Equal *first authors

Locke WJ, Zotenko E, Stirzaker C, Robinson MD, Hinshelwood RA, Stone A, Reddel RR, Huschtscha LI, Clark SJ. Coordinated epigenetic remodelling of transcriptional networks occurs durng early breast carcinogenesis. Clin Epigenetics 2015; 7:52

Du Q, Luu PL, Stirzaker C, Clark SJ. Methyl-CpG-binding domain proteins: readers of the epigenome. Epigenomics 2015; 7:1051-73

Korbie D, Lin E, Wall D, Nair SS, Stirzaker C, Clark SJ, Trau M. Multiplex bisulfate PCR resequencing of clinical FFPE DNA. Clin Epigenetics 2015; 7:28

Stirzaker C*, Taberlay PC*, Statham AL, Clark SJ. Mining Cancer Methylomes: Prospects and Challenges. Trends Genet 2013; 30:75-84 *authors contributed equally to the work.

Bert SA, Robinson MD, Strbenac D, Statham AL, Song JZ, Hulf T, Sutherland RL, Coolen MW, Stirzaker C, Clark SJ. Regional Activation of the Cancer Genome by Long Range Epigenetic Remodelling. Cancer Cell 2013; 23:9-22

Hulf T, Sibbritt T, Wiklund ED, Patterson K, Song JZ, Stirzaker C, Qu W, Nair S, Horvath LG, Armstrong NJ, Kench JG, Sutherland RL, Clark SJ. Epigenetic-induced repression of microRNA-205 is associated with MED1 activation and a poorer prognosis in localized prostate cancer. Oncogene. 2012; 32:2891-9

Statham AL*, Robinson MD*, Song JZ, Coolen MW, Stirzaker C#, Clark SJ#. Bisulphite-sequencing of chromatin immunoprecipitated DNA (BisChIP-seq) directly informs methylation status of histone-modified DNA.  Genome Res 2012; 22:1120-7 Equal *first authors and #last authors

Valdés-Mora F, Song JZ, Statham AL, Strbenac D, Robinson MD, Nair SS, Patterson KI, Tremethick DJ, Stirzaker C, Clark SJ.  Acetylation of H2A.Z is a key epigenetic modification associated with gene deregulation and epigenetic remodelling in cancer. Genome Res 2012; 22:307-21

Devaney J*, Stirzaker C*, Qu W, Song JZ, Statham AL, Patterson KI, Horvath LG, Tabor B, Coolen MW, Kench JG, Henshall SM,  Pe Benito R, Haynes A-M, Mayor R, Peinado M, Sutherland RL, Clark SJ. Epigenetic deregulation across chromosome 2q14.2 differentiates normal cells from prostate cancer cells and provides a regional panel of DNA methylation prostate cancer biomarkers. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2011; 20:148-59 *authors contributed equally to the work.

Nair S*, Coolen MW*, Stirzaker C*, Song JZ, Statham AL, Strbenac D, Robinson MD, Clark SJ. Comparison of Methyl-DNA Immunopreciptation (MeDIP) and Methyl-CpG Binding Domain (MBD) Protein Capture for Genome-wide DNA methylation Analysis Reveal CpG Sequence Coverage Bias.  Epigenetics 2011; 6:34-44   *authors contributed equally to the work

Robinson MD, Stirzaker C, Statham AL, Coolen MW, Song JZ, Nair S, Strbenac D, Speed TP, Clark SJ. Evaluation of enrichment-based genome-wide DNA methylation data: effects of CpG density, amplification bias and copy number variation.  Genome Res 2010; 20:1719-29

Coolen MW*, Stirzaker C*, Song JZ, Statham AL, Kassir Z, Moreno CS, Young AN, Varma V, Speed TP, Cowley M, Lacaze P, Kaplan W, Robinson MD, Clark SJ. Consolidation of the cancer genome into domains of repressive chromatin by long range epigenetic silencing (LRES) reduces transcriptional plasticity. Nat Cell Biol 2010; 12:235-46. *authors contributed equally to the work

Clark SJ, Statham A, Stirzaker C, Molloy PL, Frommer M. DNA methylation: bisulphite modification and analysis.  Nat Protoc 2006; 1:2353-64

Frigola J, Song J, Stirzaker C, Hinshelwood RA, Peinado MA, Clark SJ. Epigenetic remodeling in colorectal cancer results in coordinate gene suppression across an entire chromosome band.  Nat Genet 2006; 38:540-9

Stirzaker C, Song JZ, Davidson B, Clark SJ. Transcriptional gene silencing promotes DNA hypermethylation through a sequential change in chromatin modifications in cancer cells.  Cancer Res 2004; 64:3871-7


Dr Clare Stirzaker

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