Dr Nicole Schonrock

Medical Science Liaison

I am a molecular biologist with 13 years of experience in non-coding RNAs and epigenetics. I was born in Zimbabwe and completed my undergraduate degrees in Cape Town, South Africa. In April 2006, I completed my PhD in plant chromatin biology at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. I then relocated to Australia and during the last 7 years have led a small research group at the Brain and Mind Research Institute, focusing on the role of microRNAs in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

I spent two and a half years (2011-2013) in the laboratory of Prof Richard Harvey at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute applying my expertise in ncRNA biology to integrate ncRNAs into cardiac gene regulatory networks. I am now combining my main interests in epigenetics and non-coding RNAs to map and understand the epitranscriptome as a Senior Research Officer with Prof John Mattick at Garvan.

Major achievements in the field of ncRNAs in neurodegenerative disease include my discovery that amyloid-beta, a hallmark peptide of Alzheimer’s disease, can rapidly disrupt neuronal microRNA networks potentially affecting many pathways and genes essential for proper brain function and dysregulated in disease. This work, published in two first author papers and presented at 8 conferences (4 international and 5 as invited speaker), demonstrates my abilities in ncRNA biology, bioinformatics and using transgenic mouse models.

I have also substantially contributed to the field of epigenetic gene regulation. MSI1, is an integral part of several chromatin remodeling complexes. Deciphering the functions of MSI1 in plants and its position in network hierarchies was the focus of my PhD and produced 6 publications with ~380 citations. I discovered roles for MSI1 in the control of flowering time, in the drought stress response, in heterochromatin formation and epigenetic control of reproductive development.

Research Interests

Non-coding RNAs
Epigenetics (particularly RNA modifications)
Mechanisms of gene regulation using genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry approaches
Cell and developmental biology using mouse and cell culture systems
Bioinformatics analysis

Awards and Honours

04/2007 – 11/2011 Human Frontiers Science Program, Long-term Postdoctoral fellowship
07/2008 Alzheimer’s Association Travel Grant to attend the 11th International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Chicago
2007 University of Sydney Major Equipment Grant, Götz, Kril, Ittner, Strappe, Schonrock, “Expression analysis in brain cells”
09/2007 The CASS Foundation, Travel grant to attend a Keystone Symposium
05/2003 – 11/2005 Roche Research Foundation, PhD Fellowship.

• Achieved a First Class PhD and was awarded the ETH Medal in 2006 for an outstanding thesis.
• Achieved a First Class Honours Degree in 2000
• Graduated with a Distinction in Microbiology in 1999
• Placed on Dean’s Merit List in 1998 and 1999 for achieving a total yearly average above 75%
• Awarded Class Medals for best student in Biotechnology and Virology (1999), Invertebrate
Zoology (1998) and Cell Biology (1997)


2006 - PhD (Doctorate in Natural Sciences), Swiss Institute of Technology, ETH Zürich - Switzerland
2000 - Honours in Microbiology, University of Cape Town - South Africa
1999 - BSc (Majoring in Microbiology and Biochemistry),University of Cape Town - South Africa

Selected Publications

Schonrock N, Harvey RP and Mattick JS (2012) Long Non-Coding RNAs in Cardiovascular Development and Pathophysiology. Circulation Research.

Schonrock N@ and Gotz J (2012) Decoding the non-coding RNAs in Alzheimer’s disease. Cellular and Molecular life Sciences.

Schonrock N@, Humphreys D, Preiss T, Götz J (2012) Target Gene Repression Mediated by miRNAs miR-181c and miR-9 Both of Which Are Down-regulated by Amyloid-β. Journal of Molecular Neuroscience

Schonrock N@, Matamalesb M, Ittner LM and Götz J (2012) microRNA networks surrounding APP and amyloid-β metabolism – Implications for Alzheimer’s disease. Experimental Neurology

Schonrock N@, Ke YD, Humphreys D, Staufenbiel M, Ittner LM, Preiss T, Götz J. (2010) Neuronal microRNA deregulation in response to Alzheimer’s disease amyloid-beta. PLoS ONE.

Alexandre C1, Möller-Steinbach Y1, Schonrock N1, Gruissem W, Hennig L. (2009) Arabidopsis MSI1 Is Required for Negative Regulation of the Response to Drought Stress. Molecular Plant  (1 = Co-first authorship)

Götz J, Schonrock N, Vissel B and Ittner LM (2009) Alzheimer’s disease selective vulnerability and modeling in transgenic mice. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Götz J, Ittner LM, Fändrich M and Schonrock N. (2008) Is tau aggregation toxic or protective: a sensible question in the absence of sensitive methods? Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Götz J, Deters N, Doldissen A, Bokhari L, Ke Y, Wiesner A, Schonrock N, Ittner LM. (2007) A decade of tau transgenic animal models and beyond. Brain Pathology.

Exner V, Taranto P, Schonrock N, Walser M, Gruissem W and Hennig L. (2006) Chromatin assembly factor CAF-1 is required for cellular differentiation during plant development. Development

Götz J, Ittner L and Schonrock N. (2006) Alzheimer’s disease and frontal temporal dementia: prospects of a tailored therapy? The Medical Journal of Australia.

Schonrock N, Bouveret R, Leroy O, Borghi L, Kohler C, Gruissem W and Hennig L (2006) Polycomb-group proteins repress the floral activator AGL19 in the FLC-independent vernalization pathway. Genes and Development 20(12):1667-1678. 

Bouveret R, Schonrock N, Gruissem W and Hennig L (2006) Regulation of flowering time by Arabidopsis MSI1. Development.

Schonrock N, Exner V, Probst A, Gruissem W and Hennig L (2006) Functional genomic analysis of CAF-1 mutants in Arabidopsis thaliana. Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Hennig L, Taranto P, Walser M, Schonrock N, and Gruissem W (2003) Arabidopsis MSI1 is required for epigenetic maintenance of reproductive development. Development

Dr Nicole Schonrock