Dr Desiree Petersen

Senior Research Officer

Desiree Petersen received her PhD degree in Health Sciences (Human Genetics and Medical Virology) from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. She also holds a BSc degree in Natural Sciences (Genetics, Microbiology and Biochemistry) and a BSc (Hons) degree and MSc degree in Medical Sciences (Human Genetics and Medical Virology) from the University of Stellenbosch. During her postgraduate studies, she performed research at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Maryland, USA and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

In 2006, she was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the Freedman Foundation, Australia and joined the Cancer Genetics Group within the Cancer Program at the Garvan Institute. She relocated with the Cancer Genetics Group in 2008 to the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia where she was a Research Officer until she was offered a Staff Scientist position in the Genomic Medicine Group at the J. Craig Venter Institute, San Diego, USA in 2011.

Desiree returned to the Garvan Institute in January 2014 as a Senior Research Officer in the Human Comparative and Prostate Cancer Genomics lab. Her current research involves investigating genomic diversity amongst human populations to further establish the genetic basis of complex diseases such as prostate cancer. This includes a strong interest in advancing the development of new genomic technologies.

Research Interests

Human genomics
Population genetics
Complex diseases
Genetic variation
Genetic epidemiology
Prostate cancer
Cancer genomics
Sequencing technologies
Genome mapping technologies
Technology development


2006 – PhD (Human Genetics and Medical Virology), University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
2002 – MSc (Human Genetics and Medical Virology), University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
1999 – BSc Honours (Human Genetics), University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
1998 – BSc (Genetics, Microbiology and Biochemistry), University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

Selected Publications

McCrow JP, Petersen DC, Louw M, Chan EK, Harmeyer K, Vecchiarelli S, Lyons RJ, Bornman MS, Hayes VM. Spectrum of mitochondrial genomic variation and associated clincal presentation of prostate cancer in South African men. Prostate 2016; 76:349-58

Chan EK, Hardie RA, Petersen DC, Beeson K, Bornman RM, Smith AB, Hayes VM. Revised timeline and distribution of the earliest diverged human maternal lineages in southern Africa. PLoS One 2015; 10:e0121223

Tindall EA, Monare LR, Petersen DC, van Zyl S, Hardie RA, Segone AM, Venter PA, Bornman MS, Hayes VM. Clinical presentation of prostate cancer in Black South Africans. Prostate 2014, 74(8):880-91.

Petersen DC, Libiger O, Tindall A, Hardie R, Hannick LI, Glashoff RH, Mukerji M, Indian Genome Variation Consortium, Fernandez P, Haacke W, Schork NJ and Hayes VM. Complex patterns of genomic admixture within southern Africa. PLOS Genetics 2013, 9(3):e1003309.

Miller W, Hayes VM, Ratan A, Petersen DC, Wittekindt NE, Miller J, Walenz B, Knight J, Qi J, Zhao F, Wang Q, Bedoya-Reina OC, Katiyar N, Tomsho LP, Kasson LM, Hardie RA, Woodbridge P, Tindall EA, Bertelsen MF, Dixon D, Pyecroft S, Helgen KM, Lesk AM, Pringle TH, Patterson N, Zhang Y, Kreiss A, Woods GM, Jones ME and Schuster SC. Genetic diversity and population structure of the endangered marsupial Sarcophilus harrisii (Tasmanian devil). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2011, 108:12348-53.

Tindall EA, Hayes VM, Petersen DC. Inflammatory genetic markers of prostate cancer risk. Cancers 2010, 2:1198-1220.

Schuster SC, Miller W, Ratan A, Tomsho LP, Giardine B, Kasson LR, Harris RS, Petersen DC, Zhao F, Qi J, Alkan C, Kidd JM, Sun Y, Drautz DI, Bouffard P, Muzny DM, Reid JG, Nazareth LV, Wang Q, Burhans R, Riemer C, Wittekindt NE, Moorjani P, Tindall EA, Danko CG, Teo WS, Buboltz AM, Zhang Z, Ma Q, Oosthuysen A, Steenkamp AW, Oostuisen H, Venter P, Gajewski J, Zhang Y, Pugh BF, Makova KD, Nekrutenko A, Mardis ER, Patterson N, Pringle TH, Chiaromonte F, Mullikin JC, Eichler EE, Hardison RC, Gibbs RA, Harkins TT and Hayes VM. Complete Khoisan and Bantu genomes from southern Africa. Nature 2010, 463:943-7.

Patterson N*, Petersen DC*, van der Ross RE, Sudoyo H, Glashoff RH, Marzuki S, Reich D and Hayes VM. Genetic structure of a unique admixed population: Implications for Medical Research. Human Molecular Genetics 2010, 19:411-9. NOTE: * Authors contributed equally

Tindall EA, Petersen DC, Nikolaysen S, Miller W, Schuster SC and Hayes VM.  Interpretation of custom designed Illumina genotype cluster plots for targeted association studies and next-generation sequence validation. BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:39. 

Tindall EA, Petersen DC, Woodbridge P, Schipany K and Hayes VM. Assessing HRM curve analysis for accurate detection of gene variants in complex DNA fragments. Human Mutation 2009, 30:876-83.

Petersen DC, Severi G, Hoang HN, Padilla EJ, Southey MC, English DR, Hopper JL, Giles GG and Hayes VM. No association between common chemokine and chemokine receptor gene variants and prostate cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 2008, 17: 3615-17.

Tindall EA, Speight G, Petersen DC, Padilla EJD and Hayes VM. Novel Plexor SNP genotyping technology: comparisons with TaqMan and homogenous MassEXTEND MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Human Mutation 2007, 28:922-7.

Javanbakht H, An P, Gold B, Petersen DC, O'Huigin C, Nelson GW, O'Brien SJ, Kirk GD, Detels R, Buchbinder S, Donfield S, Shulenin S, Song B, Perron MJ, Stremlau M, Sodroski J, Dean M and Winkler C. Effects of human TRIM5α polymorphisms on antiretroviral function and susceptibility to human immunodeficiency virus infection.  Virology 2006, 354: 15-27.

Petersen DC, Glashoff RH, Shrestha S, Bergeron J, Laten A, Gold B, Janse van Rensburg E, Dean M and Hayes VM.  Risk for HIV-1 infection associated with a common CXCL12 (SDF1) polymorphism and CXCR4 variation in an African population. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 2005, 40: 521-526.

Petersen DC, Laten A, Zeier MD, Grimwood A, Janse van Rensburg E and Hayes VM.  Novel mutations and SNPs identified in CCR2 using a new comprehensive denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis assay. Human Mutation 2002, 20:253-259.

Hayes VM, Petersen DC, Scriba TJ, Zeier M, Grimwood A and Janse van Rensburg E. African-based CCR5-single nucleotide polymorphism associated with HIV-1 disease progression. AIDS 2002, 16:2229-2238.

Petersen DC, Kotze MJ, Zeier MD, Grimwood A, Pretorius D, Vardas E, Janse van Rensburg E and Hayes VM. Novel mutations identified using a comprehensive CCR5-denaturing gel electrophoresis assay. AIDS 2001, 15:171-177.

Dr Desiree Petersen

Collaborative Program

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