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A/Professor Jeff Craig
Associate Professor Jeff Craig works in the Environmental and Genetic Epidemiology Research Group at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and is an Honorary Associate Professor within the Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne. He leads a team of researchers in the Early Life Epigenetics team.
He has established a number of longitudinal cohorts including the Peri/postnatal Epigenetic Twins cohort. Associate Professor Craig is also an internationally recognised expert on twins and is Deputy Director of the Australian Twin Registry. His work focuses on epigenetic changes associated with early development and the link between environmental factors, development and disease, in particular cardiovascular disease and neurodevelopment.
He aims to apply this work to develop epigenetic biomarkers reflecting past environment and predicting future disease risk. He has 95 peer-reviewed publications including Nature Genetics, Molecular Cell, EMBO J, PNAS, J Cell Science & Genome Research .
- Beit Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow, 1997-1998
- Commendation, ASMR AMGEN Medical Researcher Award, 2005
- Art of Education award, Genetic Support Network Victoria, 2006
- Eppendorf Award for the Young Australian Researcher, 2006
- NHMRC RD Wright Career Development Award, 2005-2009
Associate Professor Craig studies how early environment can change the activity of genes, and how these changes can persist from childhood to adulthood. He aims to discover the specific environments and experiences that cause these changes and aims to detect specific health conditions that they may predispose children to, such as heart disease, autism and cerebral palsy.
Associate Professor Craig's focus is on early life changes to epigenetics – the small molecular switches that jump on and off of our genes and control their activity. Changes in epigenetic switches direct our development but there is increasing evidence from that an adverse early life environment can cause epigenetic changes that are associated with disease risk.
Of particular interest to Associate Professor Craig are twins and premature babies. Studying identical and fraternal twins can reveal important details of the balance of nature and nurture on our health and wellbeing. Differences within twin pairs enable Associate Professor Craig's team to look at the causes of disease that are independent of genetics. One such cause is the environment in the womb, which he found could cause differences between the behaviour of the genes of identical twins. With premature birth, it is currently very hard to predict which kids born early will be ill in childhood and which will thrive.
Associate Professor Craig's aim is to search for epigenetic biomarkers that in early childhood can be used to predict chronic illnesses later in childhood through to adulthood.
- Are there links between heart health, dental health and gut health in young twins?
- Is there an epigenetic legacy of preterm birth and can we predict health outcomes using this information?
- Do low and moderate levels of alcohol consumption in pregnancy reprogram the genes of the offspring?
- Can we discover the environmental contributions to autism spectrum disorders and cerebral palsy by studying identical twins?
Cruickshank MN, Oshlack A, Theda C, Davis PG, Martino D, Sheehan P, Dai Y, Saffery R, Doyle LW, Craig JM (2013). Analysis of epigenetic changes in survivors of preterm birth reveals the effect of gestational age and evidence for a long term legacy. Genome Medicine 5:96.
Loke J, Galati J, Morley, R, Joo, EJH, Novakovic, B, Li X, Weinrich, B, Carson, N, Ollikainen, M, Ng, HK, Andronikos, R, Aziz, NK, Saffery R and Craig JM. (2013) Association of maternal environmental and nutrient supply line factors with DNA methylation at the imprinted IGF2/H19 locus in multiple tissues of newborn twins. Epigenetics, 8: 1069-1079.
Martino, D, Gordon L, Loke J, Cruickshank, M, Li, X, Saffery, R, Craig JM. Longitudinal genome-scale analysis of DNA methylation in twins from birth to 18 months of age reveals rapid epigenetic change and pair-specific effects of epigenetic drift and convergence. In press, Genome Biology.
Gordon L, Joo EJ, Powell JE, Ollikainen M, Novakovic B, Li X, Andronikos R, Cruickshank MN, Conneely KN, Smith AK, Alisch RS, Morley R, Visscher PM, Craig JM, Saffery R. (2012) Neonatal DNA methylation profile in human twins is specified by a complex interplay between intrauterine environmental/ genetic factors subject to tissue-specific influence. Genome Research, 22: 1395-406.
Ollikainen M, Smith KR, Joo EJ-H, Ng HK., Andronikos R., Novakovic B., Abdul Aziz NK, Carlin, JB, Morley R, Saffery R Craig JM. (2010) DNA methylation analysis of multiple tissues from newborn twins reveals both genetic and intrauterine components to variation in the human neonatal epigenome. Human Molecular Genetics 19: 4176-4188.
Olsson CA, Foley DL, Parkinson-Bates M, Byrnes G, McKenzie M, Patton GC, Morley R, Anney RJ, Craig JM, Saffery R (2010). Prospects for epigenetic research within cohort studies of psychological disorder: A pilot investigation of a peripheral cell marker of epigenetic risk for depression. Biol Psychol. 83: 159-65.
Craig JM, Earle E, Canham P, Wong LH, Anderson M, & Choo KHA. (2003) Analysis of mammalian proteins involved in chromatin modification reveals new metaphase centromeric proteins and distinct chromosomal distribution patterns. Hum Mol Genet. 12: 3109-3121.
Lo AWI*, Craig JM*, Saffery R, Kalitsis P, Irvine D, Earle E, Magliano D & Choo KHA (2001). A 330-kb CENP-A-binding domain and altered replication timing at a human neocentromere. EMBO J. 20: 2087-2096 *JMC joint first author
Craig JM, Kraus J and Cremer T (1997). Removal of repetitive sequences from FISH probes using PCR-assisted affinity chromatography. Hum Genet 100: 472-476.
Craig JM, and Bickmore WA (1994). The distribution of CpG islands in mammalian chromosomes. Nature Genetics 7: 376-348 & 551.