Welcome to our first Early Career Researcher (ECR) Spotlight! Each month we will have a short Q&A with one of our outstanding ECR members to learn more about the exciting epigenetics research taking place across Australia and New Zealand.
First up we will be getting to know more about the AEpiA Committee ECR Reps.

This month we’re introcuding William Schierding, from the University of Auckland/Liggins Institute. William received the Illumina™ Emerging Researcher Award in 2020 for his work describing how non-coding genetic variants could dysregulate GBA expression in Parkinson’s Disease.

What is your role on the AEpiA Committee?
I am an early career representative on the AEpiA committee, where my role is to broaden epigenetics research experience and expertise in New Zealand.


Dr William Schierding (back centre) with other early career researchers at the Liggins Institute.

Briefly, can you tell us about your research?

Amongst 3 billion bases of DNA lurks some 10 million points of genetic variation, many of which contribute to disease risk. Around two-thirds of those disease-associated genetic variants are in non-coding regions of the DNA. The connection between non-coding variants and altered gene function is a major challenge, which makes it difficult to understand why this variation is hazardous to our health, leaving genetic diagnosis tricky and early remediation nearly impossible. My research aims to answer the question, “How does non-coding genetic variation impact on the three-dimensional structure of the DNA, leading to gene dysregulation and disease?”

What advice would you give your undergrad self?

I would warn young me about how my career move to NZ would bring me to the BEST place to live and study but it can at times be challenging and costly to keep in touch with US collaborators. St. Louis is -18 hours! Apologies to everyone I’ve lost contact with over the years.

If you want to get in touch with William you can find him on twitter at @SpaceGenome

#ChromatinBiology #3Dgenome #enhancer #epigenetics #AEpiA