Dr James (Jim) Blackburn

Senior Research Officer

Conjoint/Adjunct Role(s)

Conjoint Senior Lecturer, UNSW Medicine

After gaining a degree in genetics from the University of Manchester, Dr Blackburn undertook PhD. certification in human molecular genetics within the Molecular Vision and Therapeutics Group at Imperial College London, researching the genetic basis of human blindness.

Following this, he accepted a postdoctoral fellow position in the Sharpe Laboratory within the Department of Craniofacial Development at King's College London. Dr Blackburn's research involved analysing the developmental pathways that influence and guide tooth formation. During this time, he gained an interest in combining his developmental research with that of palaeontology and field biology disciplines (EvoDevo).

Based on his combined interests in genetics, EvoDevo and disease, Dr Blackburn was recruited to the Garvan Institute Cancer Division in 2010, joining the Genomics and Epigenetics Division as a founding member of the Genome Evolution group. In 2014, he moved within the Division to manage the establishment of the Transcriptomic Research group. Dr Blackburn's current research focus is three-fold:

1) The development of a universal test for gene fusion in blood cancers.

2) The development of a universal test for gene fusion in solid tumours.

3) The enhancement of ChIP-seq technology and its application towards understanding human disease.

Research Interests

Genetics / epigenetics
Genome evolution and adaptation
Evolution and development (EvoDevo)
Embryogenesis and development

Awards and Honours

Winner of the ABCAM Best Poster at the 2016 5th Annual Garvan Post Doctoral Symposium


2004 – PhD Human Molecular Genetics, University of London (Imperial College) - UK
2000 – BSc (Hons) Genetics, University of Manchester - UK

Selected Publications

Fleuren, E., Vlenterie, M., van der Graaf, W., Hillebrandt-Roeffen, M., Blackburn, J., et al. 2017. Phosphoproteomic profiling across sarcoma subtypes reveals ALK and MET as novel actionable targets in synovial sarcomas. Cancer Res. [Epub ahead of print]

Deveson, I.W., Holleley, C.E., Blackburn, J., Marshall Graves, J.A., Mattick, J.S., et al. 2017. Differential intron retention in Jumonji chromatin modifier genes is implicated in reptile temperature-dependent sex determination. Sci. Adv. 3(6):e1700731 

Hardwick, S.A., Chen, W.Y., Wong, T., Deveson, I.W., Blackburn, J., Andersen, S.B., Nielsen, L.K., Mattick, J.S., Mercer, T.R. 2016. Spliced synthetic genes as internal controls in RNA sequencing experiments. Nat. Methods 13:792-798

Kawasaki, M., Kawasaki, K., Oommen, S., Blackburn, J., et al. 2016. Regional regulation of filiform tongue papillae development by Ikka/Irf6. Dev. Dyn. 245:937-46

Watanabe, M., Kawasaki, K., Kawasaki, M., Portaveetus, T., Oommen, S., Blackburn, J., et al. 2016. Spatio-temporal expression of Sox genes in murine palatogenesis. Gene Expr. Patterns 21:111-118

Blackburn, J., Roden, D.L., Ng, R., Wu, J., Bosman, A., Epstein, R.J. 2016. Damage-inducible intragenic demethylation of the human TP53 tumor suppressor gene is associated with transcription from an alternative intronic promoter. Mol. Carcinog. 55:1940-1951

Blackburn, J., Kawasaki, K., Porntaveetus, T., Kawasaki, M., Otsuka-Tanaka, Y., et al. 2015. Excess NF-kB induces ectopic odontogenesis in embryonic incisor epithelium. J. Dent. Res. 94:121-128

Kawasaki, K., Porntaveetus, T., Oommen, S., Ghafoor, S., Kawasaki, M., Otsuka-Tanaka, Y., Blackburn, J., et al. 2012. Bmp signalling in filiform tongue papillae development. Arch. Oral Biol. 57:805-813

Blackburn, J., Ohazama, A., Kawasaki, K., Otsuka-Tanaka, Y., Liu, B., et al. 2012. The role of Irf6 in tooth epithelial invagination. Dev. Biol. 365:61-70

Ohazama, A., Blackburn, J., Porntaveetus, T., Ota, M.S., Choi, H., et al. 2010. A role for suppressed incisor cuspal morphogenesis in the evolution of mammalian heterodont dentition. PNAS 107:92-97

Ohazama, A., Haycraft, C.J., Seppala, M., Blackburn, J., Ghafoor, S., et al. 2009. Primary cilia regulate Shh activity in the control of molar tooth number. Development. 136:897–903

Matalová, E., Setková, J., Blackburn, J., Mísek, I., Sharpe, P.T. 2006. CD 95 mediated apoptosis in embryogenesis: implication in tooth development. Orthod. Craniofacial Res. 9:123–128

Courtney, J-M., Blackburn, J., Sharpe, P.T. 2005. The Ectodysplasin and NFkB signalling pathways in odontogenesis. Arch. Oral Biol. 50:159–163

Blackburn, J., Tarttelin, E.E., Gregory-Evans, C.Y., Moosajee, M., Gregory-Evans, K. 2003. Transcriptional Regulation and Expression of the Dominant Drusen Gene FBLN3 (EFEMP1) in Mammalian Retina. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 44:4613-4621

Tarttelin, E.E., Gregory-Evans, C.Y., Bird, A.C., Weleber, R.G., Klein, M.L., Blackburn, J., Gregory-Evans, K. 2001. Molecular genetic heterogeneity in autosomal dominant drusen. J. Med. Genet. 38:381–384

Dr James (Jim) Blackburn

Division Overview

Division Core Strengths Diagram