Prof John Mattick

Executive Director, Lab Head - RNA Biology and Plasticity

Senior Principal Research Fellow

John Mattick was born in Sydney in 1950. After completing his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Sydney and Monash University in 1977, he undertook postdoctoral training at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. In 1982 he returned to Australia to work at the CSIRO Division of Molecular Biology in Sydney, and in 1988 moved to the University of Queensland in Brisbane, where he was the Foundation Professor of Molecular Biology, and Foundation Director, ARC Federation Fellow and then NHMRC Australia Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

During this period he was also the Foundation Director of the Australian Genome Research Facility, the ARC Special Research Centre for Molecular & Cellular Biology and the ARC Special Research Centre for Functional & Applied Genomics. He also spent sabbatical periods at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Cologne and Strasbourg. In 2012 he returned to Sydney to take up the position of Executive Director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

Professor Mattick has served on councils, advisory boards and committees of a number of research and funding organisations, including Genome Canada, the Wellcome Trust, the Human Frontier Science Program, the National Health & Medical Research Council, and the Human Genome Organisation.

He has made several seminal contributions to molecular biology, including delineation of the architecture and function of the fatty acid synthase complex, development of one of the first recombinant DNA-based vaccines, and genetic characterisation of bacterial surface filaments called type IV pili involved in host colonisation.

Over the past 20 years he has pioneered a new view of the genetic programming of humans and other complex organisms, by showing that the majority of the genome, previously considered ‘junk’, actually specifies a dynamic network of regulatory RNAs that guide differentiation and development. He has published over 250 research articles and his work has received coverage in Nature, Science, Scientific American, New Scientist and the New York Times, among others.


Read John's full curriculum vitae here

Download John's Leadership Matters podcast (podcast 1)

Listen to John's 2016 Ian Constable Lecture

Research Interests

The role of regulatory RNAs in human development and cognition
Use of advanced sequencing and bioinformatic techniques to interrogate the human transcriptome
The role of RNA editing, transposon mobilisation and DNA recoding in brain function
The role of noncoding RNAs in cancer, and in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases

In the News

Garvan and Deakin University join forces to accelerate precision medicine through machine learning - Mar 28, 2017
Drug Development Conference 2017: Collaboration is key to faster delivery of new cancer treatments - Mar 24, 2017
Sir John Chisholm visits Garvan to discuss cooperation with England in genomic medicine - Dec 20, 2016
New St Vincent’s facility brings clinical genomics to patients on its Darlinghurst campus - Oct 26, 2016
Garvan Institute achieves major milestone: 10,000 genomes sequenced - Oct 18, 2016
In Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Garvan meets Lions Clubs International to discuss the way ahead for giving kids with cancer a better chance - Sep 09, 2016
NSW leadership in the global advance of clinical genomics - Aug 29, 2016
Garvan-Weizmann partnership: Professor Ido Amit visits Garvan - Aug 25, 2016
New era in genetic disease diagnosis with Australia’s first whole-genome testing service to be launched today - Jul 27, 2016
PARIS: detecting RNA structure in living cells - May 20, 2016
Landmark Lions project to provide genome sequencing to hundreds of Aussie kids with cancer - May 14, 2016
Joint Sydney research centre in the works for Garvan and Weizmann Institutes - Apr 08, 2016
Professor John Shine named an Honorary Fellow of AAHMS - Oct 12, 2015
Garvan partners with Genomics England - Sep 25, 2015
Professors Mattick and Eisman inducted into Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences - Apr 07, 2015
Professor John Mattick joins Council of Australian Academy of Science - Nov 13, 2014
Garvan Institute welcomes NSW funding of Sydney Genomics Collaborative - Jun 17, 2014
Professor John Mattick will receive 2014 Ernst W. Bertner Memorial Award - Apr 23, 2014
The future of genomic medicine has arrived in Australia - Jan 15, 2014
NHMRC Recognises John Mattick, John Shine and Peter Wills - Jan 14, 2014
Garvan receives $15.5 million in NHMRC funding round - Oct 25, 2013
Garvan Institute receives grant to research role of long non-coding RNAs in Parkinson’s disease - Oct 02, 2013
New insight into the human genome through the lens of evolution - Jul 12, 2013
The genome’s 3D structure shapes how genes are expressed - Jun 24, 2013
Garvan and St Vincent’s Welcome Critical Prostate Cancer Funding for The Kinghorn Cancer Centre - May 17, 2013
The connection between faulty neural activation and schizophrenia - Apr 30, 2013
Professor John Mattick wins prestigious HUGO Chen Award - Mar 12, 2012
Garvan announces appointment of next Executive Director - Sep 05, 2011

Awards and Honours

2012 - HUGO Chen Award for Distinguished Achievement in Genetic and Genomic Research
2011 - International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB) Medal
2009 - Julian Wells Medal, Lorne Genome Society
2008 - Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science
2008 - Inaugural Gutenberg Chair, University of Strasbourg
2007 - Associate Membership, European Molecular Biology Organization
2006 - CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science
2003 - Australian Government Centenary Medal
2002 - Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (FRCPA)
2001 - Officer in the Order of Australia (AO)
2000 - Eppendorf Achievement / Millenium Science Award, Lorne Genome Conference
1989 - Pharmacia-LKB Biotechnology Medal, Australian Biochemical Society


1978 - PhD, Monash University - Australia
1972 - BSc (First Class Honours), The University of Sydney - Australia

Selected Publications

Bell CC, Amaral PP, Kalsbeek A, Magor GW, Gillinder KR, Tangermann P, di Lisio L, Cheetham SW, Gruhl F, Frith J, Tallack MR, Ru KL, Crawford J, Mattick JS, Dinger ME, Perkins AC. The Evx1/Evx1as gene locus regulates anterior-posterior patterning during gastrulation. Sci Rep. 2016; May 26;6:26657.

Schonrock N, Jonkhout N, Mattick JS. Seq and you will find. Curr Gene Ther. 2016 May 24. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27216913.

Lu Z, Zhang QC, Lee B, Flynn RA, Smith MA, Robinson JT, Davidovich C, Gooding AR, Goodrich KJ, Mattick JS, Mesirov JP, Cech TR, Chang HY. RNA Duplex Map in Living Cells Reveals Higher-Order Transcriptome Structure. Cell. 2016; May 19;165(5):1267-79.

Doble B, Schofield DJ, Roscioli T, Mattick JS. The promise of personalised medicine. Lancet. 2016; Jan 30;387(10017):433-4.

Briggs JA, Wolvetang EJ, Mattick JS, Rinn JL, Barry G. Mechanisms of Long Non-coding RNAs in Mammalian Nervous System Development, Plasticity, Disease, and Evolution. Neuron. 2015; Dec 2;88(5):861-77.

Clark MB, Mercer TR, Bussotti G, Leonardi T, Haynes KR, Crawford J, Brunck ME, Cao KA, Thomas GP, Chen WY, Taft RJ, Nielsen LK, Enright AJ, Mattick JS, Dinger ME. Quantitative gene profiling of long noncoding RNAs with targeted RNA sequencing. Nat Methods. 2015; Apr;12(4):339-42.

Mattick JS, Rinn JL. Discovery and annotation of long noncoding RNAs. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2015; Jan;22(1):5-7.

Mercer TR, Clark MB, Andersen SB, Brunck ME, Haerty W, Crawford J, Taft RJ, Nielsen LK, Dinger ME, Mattick JS. Genome-wide discovery of human splicing branchpoints. Genome Res. 2015; Feb;25(2):290-303.

Mattick JS, Dziadek MA, Terrill BN, Kaplan W, Spigelman AD, Bowling FG, Dinger ME. The impact of genomics on the future of medicine and health. Med J Aust. 2014; Jul 7;201(1):17-20. 

Werner A, Piatek MJ, Mattick JS. Transpositional shuffling and quality control in male germ cells to enhance evolution of complex organisms. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015; Apr;1341:156-63.

Morris KV, Mattick JS. The rise of regulatory RNA. Nat Rev Genet. 2014; Jun;15(6):423-37.

Mercer TR, Clark MB, Crawford J, Brunck ME, Gerhardt DJ, Taft RJ, Nielsen LK, Dinger ME, Mattick JS. Targeted sequencing for gene discovery and quantification using RNA CaptureSeq. Nat Protoc. 2014; May;9(5):989-1009.

Mattick JS. Probing the phenomics of noncoding RNA. Elife. 2013; Dec 31;2:e01968.

Liu G, Mercer TR, Shearwood AM, Siira SJ, Hibbs ME, Mattick JS, Rackham O, Filipovska A. Mapping of mitochondrial RNA-protein interactions by digital RNase footprinting. Cell Rep. 2013; Nov 14;5(3):839-48.

Li JL, Mazar J, Zhong C, Faulkner GJ, Govindarajan SS, Zhang Z, Dinger ME, Meredith G, Adams C, Zhang S, Mattick JS, Ray A, Perera RJ. Genome-wide methylated CpG island profiles of melanoma cells reveal a melanoma coregulation network. Sci Rep. 2013; Oct 16;3:2962.

Smith MA, Gesell T, Stadler PF, Mattick JS. Widespread purifying selection on RNA structure in mammals. Nucleic Acids Res. 2013; Sep;41(17):8220-36.

Clark MB, Choudhary A, Smith MA, Taft RJ, Mattick JS. The dark matter rises: the expanding world of regulatory RNAs. Essays Biochem. 2013;54:1-16.

Liu G, Mattick JS, Taft RJ. A meta-analysis of the genomic and transcriptomic composition of complex life. Cell Cycle. 2013; Jul 1;12(13):2061-72.

Mercer TR, Mattick JS. Understanding the regulatory and transcriptional complexity of the genome through structure. Genome Res. 2013; Jul;23(7):1081-8.

Mercer TR, Edwards SL, Clark MB, Neph SJ, Wang H, Stergachis AB, John S, Sandstrom R, Li G, Sandhu KS, Ruan Y, Nielsen LK, Mattick JS, Stamatoyannopoulos JA. DNase I-hypersensitive exons colocalize with promoters and distal regulatory elements. Nat Genet. 2013; Aug;45(8):852-9.

Mercer TR, Clark MB, Neph SJ, Edwards SL, Li G, Sandhu KS, Ruan Y, Nielsen L, Mattick JS* and Stamatoyannopoulos JA* (*Joint corresponding authors). DNaseI-hypersensitive exons co-localize with promoters and distal regulatory elements. Nature Genetics 2013; 45:852–859.

Mercer TR and Mattick JS. Structure and function of long noncoding RNAs in epigenetic regulation. Nature Structural and Molecular Biology 2013; 20:300-307.

Mercer TR, Gerhardt DJ, Dinger ME, Crawford J, Trapnell C, Jeddeloh JA*, Mattick JS* and Rinn JL* (*Joint corresponding authors). Targeted RNA sequencing reveals the deep complexity of the human transcriptome. Nature Biotechnology 2012; 30:99-104.

Mercer TR, Neph S, Dinger ME, Crawford J, Smith MA, Shearwood AJ, Haugen E, Bracken CP, Rackham O, Stamatoyannopoulos JA, Filopovska A and Mattick JS. The human mitochondrial transcriptome. Cell 2011; 146:645-658.

Mattick JS. The central role of RNA in human development and cognition. FEBS Letters 2011; 585:1600–1616.

Taft RJ, Simons C, Nahkuri S, Oey H, Korbie DJ, Mercer TR, Holst J, Ritchie W, Wong JJ-L, Rasko JEJ, Rokhsar DS, Degnan BM and Mattick JS. Nuclear-localized tiny RNAs are associated with transcription initiation and splice sites in metazoans. Nature Structural and Molecular Biology 2010; 17:1030-1034.

Mercer TR, Dinger ME, Sunkin SM, Mehler MF and Mattick JS. Specific expression of non-coding RNAs in mouse brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 2008; 105:716-721.

Dinger ME, Amaral PP, Mercer TR, Pang KC, Bruce SJ, Gardiner BB, Askarian-Amiri ME, Ru K, Soldà G, Simons C, Sunkin SM, Crowe ML, Grimmond SM, Perkins AC and Mattick JS. Long noncoding RNAs in mouse embryonic stem cell pluripotency and differentiation. Genome Research 2008; 18:1433–1445.

Amaral PP, Dinger ME, Mercer TR and Mattick JS. The eukaryotic genome as an RNA machine. Science 2008; 319:1787-1789.

Pheasant M and Mattick JS. Raising the estimate of functional human sequences. Genome Research 2007; 17:1245-1253.

Taft RJ, Pheasant M and Mattick JS. The relationship between non-protein-coding DNA and eukaryotic complexity. Bioessays 2007; 29:288-299. 

Bejerano G, Pheasant M, Makunin IV, Stephen S, Kent WJ, Mattick JS and Haussler D. Ultra-conserved elements in the human genome. Science 2004; 304:1321-1325.

Mattick JS. RNA regulation: a new genetics? Nature Reviews Genetics 2004; 5:316-323.

Mattick JS and Gagen MJ (2001) The evolution of controlled multitasked gene networks: the role of introns and other noncoding RNAs in the development of complex organisms. Molecular Biology and Evolution 2001; 18:1611-1630.

Mattick JS. Introns - evolution and function. Current Opinion in Genetics and Development 1994; 4:823-831.

Prof John Mattick

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