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Cancer Epigenetics Lab

Our lab investigates the impact of epigenetic processes on disease.

Over the past two decades, it has become evident that another layer of information sits ‘above’ DNA-encoded genetic information in humans and other complex organisms. This ‘epi–’ genetic information is embedded in the chemical modification of DNA and the histone proteins it wraps around.

Epigenetic information determines the structure of DNA – that is, how DNA is organised in the cell – which in turn determines which genes or noncoding RNAs are expressed and control normal development. Unlike genomic information, epigenetic changes are also potentially influenced by environmental factors, especially during early development. This means they can be somatically inherited between cell generations, leading to increased disease susceptibility.

The importance of epigenetics in normal development and in many disease states, including cancer, is well established. However, understanding the mechanisms that control DNA methylation, chromatin remodelling and three-dimensional (3D) chromatin conformation in different cell states, is still not well understood. Our lab has developed high-throughput epigenomic sequencing tools required to decipher the different layers of the epigenome. We are using and developing sophisticated bioinformatic tools to build and interpret 3D epigenome maps of normal and cancer cells, and understand epigenome biology and how this changes during cancer progression and development of therapeutic resistance.

The main aims of our lab are:

  1. Basic research to elucidate how the pattern of spatial and temporal epigenetic processes control normal cell development, and how disruption of these processes contributes to prostate and breast cancer initiation, progression and resistance.
  2. Translational research to facilitate the application of this knowledge in clinical settings to improve health outcomes, through the development of epigenetic-based biomarkers and implementation of effective epigenetic-based therapies.
  3. Training to foster opportunities for talented laboratory and bioinformatic students and researchers at all stages, to build their careers in epigenomic research in Australia.

Videos and Resources

What is epigenetics?

Demystifying epigenetics – Garvan researchers explain

Epigenetics Basics

Epigenetics and Development

Epigenetics and Cancer

Epigenetics and Biomarkers

Epigenetics research at Garvan

What our lab does

Tagging DNA: Mislabelling the cancer genome

Studying epigenetics and methylation in cancer

Research team

Related groups

Selected publications

See all publications