Garvan Insititute of Medical Research (NSW)

Professor Susan Clark

Professor Susan Clark is a molecular biologist by training. She completed her BSc (Hons1) degree under the supervision of Drs Ken Reed and Lyn Dalgarno at the Australian National University, ACT, Australia, in 1978. She was awarded her PhD (1982) in Biochemistry at University of Adelaide, South Australia, with a thesis entitled "Mapping and Sequencing Human Histone Genes", under the supervision of Dr Julian Wells.

Susan spent her Postdoctoral and Group Leaders years working in the Biotechnology Industry at Biotechnology Australia from 1983-1988 leading studies on the first recombinant porcine diarrhea vaccine development in Australia and eukaryotic expression of recombinant human inhibin, Il-3 and GMCSF.

In 1992, Susan returned to basic research as Group Leader of the Gene Regulation Unit at the Kanematsu Laboratories, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and CSIRO, North Ryde. During this time she developed and implemented a new single molecule sequencing technology for DNA methylation analysis- bisulphite sequencing and used this technology to show that DNA methylation patterns were dynamic in early development and were mis-regulated in cancer.

In 2000, Susan established and headed the Epigenetics Group at the Sydney Cancer Centre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. In 2004 she moved her group to the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and initiated and led the growth of the Epigenetics Research Program. From 2015- 2021 she served as Inaugural Head, Genomic and Epigenetics Division.

Her DNA methylation studies over the past thirty years have initiated profound questions about the importance of epigenetics in early development and in disease, especially in cancer. Susan has made extensive ground-breaking discoveries relating to DNA methylation patterns in normal and cancer genomes, that have led to the commercialization of new methylation-based tests for early cancer detection. The techniques she pioneered in the early 1990s, including bisulphite sequencing, have revolutionised and now underpin epigen"omic" research. She was founding member of IHEC (International Human Epigenome Consortium) and led the formation and served as president of the AEpiA (Australian Epigenetics Alliance) (2008-2021).

She has received a number of National and International Awards including the German “Biochemisch Analytik Preis” for outstanding contribution for Methylation analysis (2004); Fellow of the World Technology Network for Biotechnology (2006), Australia’s "Top Ten" National Health and Medical Research (NHMRC) Project Scientists (2009) and Rotary Award for Vocational Excellence (2012). In 2015 she was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy (FAA); in 2017 Ramaciotti Foundation National Medal of Excellence and in 2019 NSW Premiers Prize for Excellence in Medical Biological Sciences and in 2020 elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, (FAHMS).

Current Research Plans (2023- 2028):

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