Professor Peter JonesAwarded the 2011 Australian Academy of Science Rudi Lemberg Travel Fellowship
Peter travelled throughout Australia from 7 - 22 February to deliver public lectures about epigenetics
Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Position and Affiliation
Distinguished Professor of Urology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.
Professor Jones was born in South Africa, raised and attended college in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and received his Ph.D. from the University of London. He joined the University of Southern California in 1977, attaining the rank of Professor in 1985, Distinguished Professor in 1999, and was Director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center 1993-2011.
Professor Jones is a pioneer in the now burgeoning field of “epigenetics”. His laboratory discovered the effects of the drug 5-azacytidine on the cell’s epigenetic code and linked this process to the re-activation of silenced genes. 5-azacytidine is now used to treat myelodysplatic syndrome and prevent it from developing into leukaemia.
Professor Jones is internationally renowned for his discoveries of the basic mechanisms of epigenetics and the role they play in cancer development and cell differentiation. He is a past President of the American Association for Cancer Research. He has published more than 300 scientific papers and received several honors, including the Outstanding Investigator Grant from the National Cancer Institute. He shared the prestigious Kirk A. Landon Award for Basic Cancer Research from the AACR in 2009 and the Medal of Honor from the American Cancer Society in 2011 with Stephen Baylin.
Public Lecture sponsored by the Australian Academy of Science, Rudi Lemberg Travel Fellowship
“How the exploding science of epigenetics will transform our understanding of health and disease and Australia’s participation in it”.
In this public lecture, Professor Jones will discuss the revolution in the field of epigenomics and describe how the human genome is packaged so that different parts are used in different cells. He will also describe how epigenetics works to control normal development and how it can malfunction to contribute to human diseases such as cancer. Finally, he will describe international efforts to map the human epigenome and develop drugs to rectify disease states.
Where was Peter!?
For more information, please click below for specific information and contact details for each host city.
Highlights From the Victorian AEpiA Branch Meeting
"A day with Andy Feinberg"
Bio21 Institute - Melbourne, Australia - 26 Aug 2011
Contributed by Warwick Locke - Garvan Institute of Medical Research
This year’s Australian Epigenetic Alliance Victorian branch meeting held at the Bio21 institute was a stunning success. The meeting was a showcase of student and early to mid career researches and the presentations given were of exceptional calibre.
We heard talks from researchers from Victoria and interstate on a diverse range of topics. Overall, genome-wide studies and next generation sequencing dominated the day. The meeting opened with a session devoted to bioinformatic analysis and data visualisation. We were introduced to the Galaxy framework (a bioinformatics tool even a biologist can use) and Alicia Olshack took us through the perils of peak finding algorithms, data visualisation and the importance of chromatin modification patterns across genes and promoters.
The first student talk of the day by Aniruddha Chatterjee demonstrated that not all bisulphite mapping tools are equal and took home the student talk prize. Next we had two sessions of cancer epigenetics where we heard about epigenetic regulators as tumour suppressors, the epigenetic regulation of tumour suppressors and the therapeutic regulation of epigenetics as a cancer treatment. Megan Hitchins linked genetics with epigenetics disusing the role of epimutations in disease (and beer in scientific innovation) in her keynote presentation.
The standout feature of the day was the plenary talk given by Prof Andy Feinberg who took us through some of his groundbreaking research. Andy discussed his work done in collaboration with Rafael Irizarry and their discovery of the role of CpG island shores in evolution and showed us the virtue of low pass bisulphite sequence. Proving it can be sometimes be more beneficial to know a little about a lot than to know a lot about a little.He finished his talk on his more recent work into the genomic architecture of worker, nursery and queen bees.
The final session of the day covered the role of epigenetics in complex disease. Just as the first session of the day was to provide a prize-winner so would the last, David Martino took home the early career researcher prize for his talk on DNA methylation and food allergies. Assam El-Osta provided the last talk of the day disussing the sweet genome and the epigenomic response to glucose.
Finally, Jeff Craig closed the day with a song and the delegates retired to a nearby pub to muse on the day’s outstanding discussions.
Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne, VIC
Student oral presentation: Aniruddha Chatterjee
Highlights From the Victorian AEpiA Branch Meeting
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia - 22nd November 2010
Contributed by Boris Novakovic - Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
The recent Victorian AEpiA branch meeting, held at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, was organised by the Victorian AEpiA representatives Richard Saffery, Jeff Craig and Anne Voss, who chaired the meeting. The program was composed of 14 short presentations (15 mins each) given by students and Postdocs, 2 plenary talks given by Assoc. Prof. Ricky Johnstone (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre) and Dr. Marnie Blewitt (WEHI), and a short presentation by the major sponsor Illumina. Four general areas of epigenetic research were covered: chromatin maintenance and remodelling, transcriptional regulation, chromatin modifications in diseases, and DNA methylation.
The format allowed several early to mid-career researchers to showcase their very recent work, and throughout the day we heard how epigenetic analysis is being used to study a variety of diseases and disorders, from immunological studies of Helicobacter pylori (Trevelyan Menheniott, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute) and malaria infection (Gabrielle Josling, University of Melbourne), to cancer (Elaine Sanij, Peter Mac) and Friedreich ataxia (Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute). We also heard several talks on the role of histone modifications on gene activity in several different cell types, including foetal germ cells and stem cells.
The poster session at the end of the meeting gave the opportunity to several students to showcase their work and allowed all delegates to socialise while enjoying some drinks and nibbles.
We would like to congratulate our prize winners
Assoc. Prof. Ricky Johnstone told us about Histone Deacetylases (HDACs) (or more correctly protein deacetylases) and the varied mechanisms of action of HDAC inhibitors in cancer treatment. He also pointed out that we need to reconsider the way we think about histone acetylation because recent work has shown that just as many genes are up regulated by HDACi treatment as are switched off.
Dr Marnie Blewitt gave us some interesting insights into the polycomb family of proteins and their novel roles in gene expression and development, in addition to introducing a novel mouse ES cell-based screen aimed at identifying novel epigenetic ‘players’ through a disruption of the X-chromosome inactivation in this system.
Special thanks the sponsors of the event including Illumina (major sponsor), Millipore, AGRF, Life Research, Genesearch, Sequenom, WEHI and MCRI.
Highlights from Biomarker Discovery Conference
Shoal Bay, NSW, Australia 6-10 Dec 2010
Contributed by Brian Gloss - Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Sunny Shoal Bay on the north coast of NSW was the scenic venue for the inaugural Biomarker Discovery Conference. It was an excellent conference, well planned and executed by the organisers, with a great depth of talent and topics on display - impressions from an epigeneticist follow;
Delegates were treated to 5 days of plenary presentations from many international and local speakers. Michael Langston (U Tennessee) spoke of efforts in supercomputing to handle the increasing complexity of genetic experimental data and Greg Gibson (Georgia Institute of Technology) hinted at the possible epigenetic impact on GWAS studies. Archa Fox (WA-IMR) along with Marcel Dinger (UQ) gave a fantastic joint talk on the expanding field of noncoding RNAs in health and disease.
Students and post-docs were highly involved with talks sandwiched between plenary presentations, two poster sessions, parallel session workshops and a short talk "master class". With almost $5 000 available in prizes (HMRI), competition was fierce with many high quality presentations.
Epigenetic research proved to be a potent force, winning 3/6 of the available awards. Prizes went to Kristina Warton (DNA methylation as a biomarker), Tina Sellinger (Epigenetic remodelling in lung cancer) and Brian Gloss (Methylated biomarkers of ovarian cancer).
It wasn't all work and no play, the first night saw "speed-date a scientist" where delegates got to meet each other in a semi-supervised fashion. Many opportunities to mingle followed on from this during the poster sessions and breaks. On Thursday, after a stunning dolphin cruise, the conference dinner was held at the luxurious Peppers Anchorage. It was a tribute to the quality of presentations that despite the high quality wine, most participants were up for the 8:30 am start time the following day. A thoroughly enjoyable conference in a perfect location, I enjoyed myself immensely.
Highlights from NSW/ACT AEpiA Branch Meeting
Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney, Australia (December 7 2010)
Contributed by Kate Patterson - Garvan Institute of Medical Research
At the recent AEpiA branch meeting for ACT and NSW, registrants heard 22 "Epi Snippets" that highlighted both the quality and breadth of epigenetics research that is being undertaken locally.
General feedback on the day was that the short ten minute talks, with five minutes for questions provided a great format to give a flavour of the research.Without the need for background slides, all the speakers did a superb job at keeping to time and provided a remarkably well rounded and complete picture of their individual projects and research goals.
We heard about new technologies for analysing whole genome sequencing, the challenges of developing epigenetic-based biomarkers for disease, edit-mIRs, new concepts for chromatin remodelling and the clinical aspects of barretts oesophagus and gliomas. The presentations were also peppered with various model systems including the platypus and chicken, ancient bovine species and the more familiar homo sapiens and mouse.
The festive decorations at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute were a great accompanyment for the post seminar drinks. Thank you to the major sponsors: Illumina, Millipore and Genesearch, as well as Roche for sponsoring the lunch and BioAssayLINK, Life Technologies, Sapphire Biosciences and Sequenom for providing prizes.
We look forward to the 2011 AEpiA branch meeting for ACT and NSW!
Congratulations to the following WINNERS:
Best Postdoctoral Prize sponsored by BioAssayLINK
Best Student Prize sponsored by Sapphire Bioscience
Excellent presentation skills sponsored by Sequenom
Excellent presentation skills sponsored by Life Technologies
From bench to bedside award sponsored by Sequenom
New Concept award sponsored by Life Technologies
Highlights from Keystone RNA Silencing 2010
Keystone, Colorado USA (January 14-19 2010)
Highlights from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Cancer Epigenetics Meeting
San Juan, Puerto Rico (January 20-23, 2010)
Contributed by Brian Gloss - Garvan Institute of Medical Research
It was the who’s who of epigenetics in cancer. Peter Laird, Peter Jones, Jean-Pierre Issa, Sue Clark, Andrew Feinberg to name but a few. The first conference was held 13 years previously with just a handful of scientists in Puerto Rico and, fittingly, 400 people packed into the Hilton in San Juan in 2010 to hear 55 cutting edge talks, see hundreds of posters and catch up with colleagues.
Even the perfect sunny days, beautiful beaches and decadence of the Hilton couldn’t distract us from inspiring talks about stem cells, differentiation, chromatin, bioinformatics and, of course, DNA methylation.
My personal highlights included Alex Meissner’s discussion comparing whole genome methylation profiling, Peter Jones’ sobering reminder that epigenetic gene regulation goes way beyond the transcript and Kenneth Nephew’s demonstration of the usefulness of epigenetic therapies in re-sensitising chemoresistant solid tumours to chemotherapy.
Download the final conference program
Also now published in Cancer Research - a full report:Jason P. Ross and Peter L. Molloy - Thirteenth AACR Special Conference on Cancer Epigenetics Cancer Res October 1 2010 70:7372 - Article
Highlights from the 31st Lorne Genome Conference
Lorne, Australia (February 14-16, 2010)
Contributed by Saul Bert - Garvan Institute of Medical Research
The Lorne Genome conference was set to the dual rhythm of endless rain
and generous applause. Caused in equal measure by the beauty of nature
and those that study her finest creation, the mysterious genome.
Now in its 31st year, the Lorne Genome conference has had the world's finest epigeneticists, evolutionary biologists, plant geneticists and all other flavour of molecular biologists grace its program; this year being no exception. Talks that struck notable chords came from John Stamatoyannopoulos on the creation of genomic and epigenomic maps, John Rinn on the discovery of large non-coding RNAs as mediators of genomic repression and Michael Stratton who spoke of sequencing the cancer genome and the secrets that lie therein. Novel talks were abundant; unique presentations were given by Hiroki Ueda on the transcriptional programs that regulate circadian clocks, as well as Alan Cooper who spoke of analyzing SNP data from extinct families of bovids.
While the conference was set in the wonderful Mantra Resort (who knew learning of the genome needed so much tennis and wine tasting!), surely the most engaging event was the gala dinner speech given by Julian Wells Medal awardee Merlin Crossley. Talking of his experiences at the Lorne conference over the years, he wove a whimsical tale of epigenetics and the twelve apostles, of glow worms and of transcription factors; truly, it was a delight to be a part of the 31st Lorne Genome conference!