You are here
Professor Richard Saffery
Professor Richard Saffery (BSc, PhD, Grad Dip Law (IP)) is a Molecular and Cellular biologist and Principle Research Fellow at MCRI. He is also Deputy Director (Biosciences) for the Generation Victoria (GenV) initiative. His 'Early Origins of Chronic Disease' agenda spans pregnancy to adolescence and includes conditions such as childhood allergy, obesity and predictors of adult cardiovascular health and diabetes.
Dr Saffery has over 250 publications in the field of early life programming and epigenetics. This includes novel discoveries on the factors that regulate the early life human epigenome and the role epigenetics in childhood allergy and immune development. His team have an overarching goal to understand how the modern environment interacts with underlying genetic variation to impact health, particularly in early life. Having led numerous longitudinal pregnancy cohorts in Australia, the EU and more recently China, Dr Saffery has a strong interest in understanding why young Aboriginal populations appear overrepresented in diabetes and chronic kidney disease, particularly via parental transmission of risk across generations.
University of Melbourne
Chonqing Medical University
1989 Australian postgraduate research award
2003 Poster Prize, Lorne Genome Conference, Australia
2004 NHMRC, RD Wright Career Development Award, Australia
2012 Travel Award, International Congress of Twin Studies
2013 NHMRC, Senior Research Fellowship, Australia
2015 Outstanding Leadership Award, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
2019 Thousand Talents Award (Chinese Govt)
Regulation of the Early Human Epigenome
This research theme aims to identify epigenetic/molecular changes in neonatal/child tissues associated with (i) maternal diet/BMI and (ii) later childhood adiposity & metabolic health. This is being done as part of large collaborative projects funded by NHMRC projects, NHMRC:EU and EC:FP7 project grants t
Epigenetics and Complex Disease In Children
The aim of this research theme is to identify epigenetic and other molecular disruption associated with common childhood diseases including food allergy, asthma and obesity (and related comorbidities). This is being done as part of both local and National collaborative projects funded by 2 NHMRC project grants spanning 2011-2016.
Epigenetics of Human Placental function
The aim of this research theme is to understand the role of epigenetic and other molecular disruption associated with placental function and adverse pregnancy outcomes. This is being done as part of both local and National collaborative projects funded by philanthropy
Childhood Epigenetics and Early Life Adversity
This research aims to understand how early life exposure (in utero or early postnatal) to specific environmental factors (plastic products, heavy metals, maternal smoking) modifies the developing epigenetic profile
- Peri/postnatal Epigenetics Study (PETS)
- Barwon Infant Study (BIS)
- Premature Infant Epigenetics Study (PIES)
- HealthNuts Study
- Child Health Checkpoint Study
- Chonqing Longitudinal Twin Study (LOTiS)
1. Vlahos A, Mansell T, Saffery R, Novakovic B. Human placental methylome in the interplay of adverse placental health, environmental exposure, and pregnancy outcome. PLoS genetics. 2019;15:e1008236.
2. Novakovic B,….Saffery R. Assisted reproductive technologies are associated with limited epigenetic variation at birth that largely resolves by adulthood. Nat Commun. 2019;10:3922.
3. Hjort L, Novakovic B…Saffery R. Diabetes in pregnancy and epigenetic mechanisms-how the first 9 months from conception might affect the child's epigenome and later risk of disease. Lancet Diab Endocrin. 2019;7:796-806.
4. Fernandez-Twinn DS…Saffery R. Intrauterine programming of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia. 2019;62(10):1789-801.
5. Patton GC, ..Saffery R,et al. Adolescence and the next generation. Nature. 2018;554:458-66.
6. Martino D, Neeland MR…Saffery R. Epigenetic dysregulation of naïve CD4+ T-cell activation genes in childhood
3 food allergy. Nat Comms. 2018
7. Hjort L, Vryer R…. Saffery R, et al. Telomere length is reduced in 9- to 16-year-old girls exposed to gestational diabetes in utero. Diabetologia. 2018;61:870-80.
8. Hjort L, Martino D.…Saffery R, Vaag A. Gestational diabetes and maternal obesity are associated with epigenome-wide methylation changes in children. JCI Insight. 2018;3(17).
9. Neeland MR…Saffery R, Allen K. Early life innate immune signatures of persistent food allergy. JACI. 2017.
10. Sexton-Oates A…Saffery R. Evidence of broad-based family support for the use of archival childhood tumour samples in future research. Journal of medical ethics. 2016;42(7):460-5.
11. Vuillermin P, Saffery R, et al. Cohort Profile: The Barwon Infant Study. Int J Epi. 2015;44(4):1148-60.
12. Meyer B, …Saffery R, Ellis J. DNA methylation at IL32 in juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Sci Reports. 2015;5:11063.
13. Martino D, Dang T…Saffery R. Blood DNA methylation biomarkers predict clinical reactivity in food-sensitized infants. JACI. 2015;135(5):1319-28 e1-12.
14. Joo JE, Novakovic B, Cruickshank M, Doyle LW, Craig JM, Saffery R. Human active X-specific DNA methylation events showing stability across time and tissues. EJHG. 2014;22:1376-81.
15. Martino D… Saffery R, et al. Longitudinal, genome-scale analysis of DNA methylation in twins from birth to 18 months of age reveals rapid epigenetic change in early life and pair-specific effects of discordance. Genome Biol. 2013;14(5):R42.
16. Gordon L...Saffery. Neonatal DNA methylation profile in human twins is specified by a complex interplay between intrauterine environmental and genetic factors, subject to tissue-specific influence. Genome Res. 2012;22:1395-406.
17. Bell JT, Saffery R. The value of twins in epigenetic epidemiology. Int J Epidemiol. 2012;41(1):140-50.
18. Ollikainen M, Smith KR.….Saffery R, Craig J. DNA methylation analysis of multiple tissues from newborn twins reveals both genetic and intrauterine components to variation in the human neonatal epigenome. Hum Mol Genet. 2010;19(21):4176-88.
19. Novakovic B, Wong NC... Saffery R. DNA methylation-mediated down-regulation of DNA methyltransferase-1 (DNMT1) is coincident with, but not essential for, global hypomethylation in human placenta. J Biol Chem. 2010;285(13):9583-93.
20. Novakovic B, Sibson M...Saffery R. Placenta-specific methylation of the vitamin D 24-hydroxylase gene: implications for feedback autoregulation of active vitamin D levels at the fetomaternal interface. J Biol Chem. 2009;284(22):14838-48.
21. Foley DL, Craig JM… Saffery R. Prospects for epigenetic epidemiology. Am J Epidemiol. 2009;169(4):389-400.