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Save the date – EPIGENETICS 2017

Save the Date!

7th Australian Epigenetics Conference

29 October – 1 November 2017


Mark the date in your diary and join us at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane for the 7th Epigenetics Australian Scientific Conference.

Discover the epigenetic innovations of the future. Learn, collaborate and be inspired. Join us in Brisbane to find out about the rapidly moving field of epigenetics and its implications in disease progression and therapy.

Themes include:

  • Epigenetic Therapies and Biomarkers
  • Development and Inheritance
  • Epigenetic Mechanisms
  • Functional Epigenomics
  • Epigenetics and Disease
Registrations and call for abstracts will be opening in early April 2017.

For further enquires please do not hesitate call the Conference Secretariat on 07 3368 2422 or email


PhD Opportunities – Hunter Medical Research Institute

PhD Opportunities – DNA Methylation Heterogeneity in Cancer

Cancer cells within a single tumour can differ in clinically important properties such as their ability to initiate metastasis or survive therapy, and a thorough understanding of the molecular characteristics underlying this heterogeneity will have important implications for cancer treatment. DNA methylation is dynamically regulated during development and globally dysregulated in many cancer types, yet little is known about the heterogeneity of this epigenetic modification in cancer.

Recently developed single-cell sequencing technologies have allowed DNA methylation heterogeneity to be studied in unprecedented detail. Based in the Hunter Medical Research Institute, the laboratory of Dr Heather Lee will apply these methods to investigate DNA methylation heterogeneity and dynamics in cancer. Two opportunities exist for talented molecular biologists to undertake a PhD project in this newly established research team.

Specific aims that could be addressed are:

1. To determine the relationship between DNA methylation plasticity and cellular plasticity during epithelial to mesenchymal transition and metastasis.

2. To investigate the contribution of DNA methylation heterogeneity to the heterogeneous response of cancer cells to therapy.

3. To identify targets for DNA methylation biomarker development based on molecular characterisation of circulating tumour cells, metastasis initiating cells or putative cancer stem cells.

These research projects will involve collaboration with scientists at the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics at the Kinghorn Cancer Centre, Sydney. Depending on the specific aims of the research project, the candidate will develop technical skills in cell culture, in vitro assays of cancer biology, in vivo models of cancer, DNA methylation analysis, single-cell sequencing technologies and bioinformatics.

Applications are open to international and domestic candidates.

Interested applicants are advised to email a curriculum vitae and cover letter to the address below.


Applications are open until suitable candidates are found.

First Annual EpiCSA Research Meeting a great success

The Epigenetics Consortium of South Australia (EpiCSA) held its first Annual Research Meeting on 13th October, with a busy one-day program including a keynote talk by Professor Ryan Lister of University of Western Australia.

Formed in 2015, EpiCSA has brought together epigenetics researchers from diverse disciplines with a number of workshops and meetings to date, the first Annual EpiCSA Research Meeting being a major highlight. The meeting was held at the auditorium of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.

Dr Tina Bianco-Miotto, EpiCSA Chairperson, who led the organisation of the meeting, said, “Our first annual research meeting was a wonderful success. We were honoured to have leading epigenetic researchers speaking, and the event also gave early career researchers and students the opportunity to showcase their work.”

AEpiA was delighted to sponsor two awards at the event: The award for Best Student Poster Talk was presented to Saira Ali of Flinders University, and The Best Student Poster prize was awarded to Paniz Tavakoli of CSIRO and University of Adelaide.

The title of Saira’s poster was Epigenetic regulation of gene expression in colorectal cancer (CRC) cells, and in her talk she discussed her work using high-throughput functional screens to identify microRNAs that might sensitise CRC cells to the anti-tumorigenic molecule butyrate. Saira is currently validating a number of microRNA targets that may have potential as tumour suppressors.

Paniz’s poster was entitled Folate deficiency increases guanine-quadruplexes (G4) frequency and DNA damage in Werner syndrome. Werner syndrome is a rare autosomal disease characterised by the premature onset of several age-associated pathologies, and Paniz presented her work characterising the links between folate deficiency and the presence of DNA G4 structures and altered DNA methylation profiles in cells from patients with this condition.

Saira and Paniz were kind enough to write about some of the highlights of the EpiCSA meeting for them – please read them below.

AEpiA congratulates EpiCSA on another successful event, and we look forward to hearing more in 2017.

Saira Ali writes:

Attending the EpiCSA Annual Research Meeting 2016, I was very impressed by the amazing epigenetics research being performed by our local students and researchers. There were two talks by Benjamin Mayne and Kavita Panir, both from University of Adelaide, that particularly drew my attention.

Benjamin spoke about DNA methylation changes observed in the placenta of pregnant women. I found his research very interesting because Benjamin collated DNA methylation data from publicly available data sets and he identified methylation changes in CpG sites that could be used to predict the gestational age of the placenta. This highlights how important it is to share your data because someone else may ask a completely different question from you and discover something novel from the same data set!

Kavita spoke about the effect of knocking out miR-223 in mice on the formation of endometriosis-like lesions. Kavita’s talk was interesting because she demonstrated that the absence of this miRNA affects the size and weight of the lesions formed in the miR-223 knockout mice. For me it is really interesting to see miRNA research from people studying different diseases and realise how different the role of an individual miRNA can be in different tissues. This same miRNA has been associated with poor prognosis in patients with colorectal cancer (my area of study) and tumour metastasis.

Paniz Tavakoli writes:

Maxime François (CSIRO, Health and Biosecurity) gave an elegant presentation on the epigenetic importance of G-quadruplexes, which are DNA tetra-stranded secondary conformations, in a context of human diseases and nutrition. It has been proposed that these structures can affect the stability of our genome and have been found to be elevated in aging disorders, mild cognitive impairment in particular. His results showed that exposing cells to folate deficiencies had repercussions on the appearance of these structures and genome stability, emphasising the important roles of nutrients at the cellular level.

This talk grabbed my attention by introducing quantitative imaging, a different approach for measuring G-quadruplexes other than bioinformatics and computational biology methods mentioned in previous presentations that day. As stated, this developed technique requires precise targeting of these structures within human DNA by a specific antibody and was shown to be adaptable for high-throughput. Since sequencing is expensive and requires expertise in bioinformatics, this method may be a powerful tool for epigenetic studies.

Saira Ali receiving award from EpiCSA's Tina Bianco-Miotto

Saira Ali and EpiCSA’s Tina Bianco-Miotto

Paniz Tavakoli receiving award from EpiCSA's Tina Bianco-Miotto

Paniz Tavakoli and EpiCSA’s Tina Bianco-Miotto

EpiCSA meeting organisers

First Annual EpiCSA Research Meeting organisers

Ryan Lister

Ryan Lister

Kavita Panir

Kavita Panir

Maxime Francois

Maxime Francois