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Professor Richard Saffery
Doctor Richard Saffery is NHMRC Senior Research Fellow (level B) with over 20 years experience in Molecular and Cellular biology, including 15 in the field of Human Epigenetics.
He heads the Cancer & Disease Epigenetics (CDE) laboratory at Murdoch Childrens that uses state-of-the-art multidisciplinary approaches, encompassing genetic, environmental and epigenetic analyses, to understand childhood development and complex disease.
Dr Saffery has published over 120 papers, including several recent important discoveries describing the interaction of genetic, environmental, temporal and tissue-specific factors in regulating the early life DNA methylation profile in humans. His team have received over $10 million in grant funding since 2000 including, two NHMRC Healthy Start to Life, eight NHMRC project grants and an NHMRC:EU grant.
Since 2006 the CDE team have developed an international reputation in human epigenetics as reflected by many international invitations to present his work.
Dr Saffery is the founding Treasurer and State Representative for the Australian Epigenetics Alliance and is an editorial board member of Clinical Epigenetics. He is also a member of the Gravida I nternational College' of global experts who provide leadership on cutting edge research in reproduction, pregnancy, growth and development. Recently, Dr Saffery has been appointed as a Work Package leader of a large multinational European Commission (FP7) funded project (Early Nutrition) examining the early life determinants of metabolic disorders in children.
2014: Australian Twin Registry Travel Award
2012: National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellowship (Level B)
2012: Australian Twin Registry Travel Award
2005: National Health and Medical Research Council Career Development Award
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 currently funded by NHMRC projects, NHMRC:EU and EC:FP7 project grants totalling over $10M, spanning 2010-2016.
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 Childhood Tumours
This research theme aims to define genes and cellular pathways subject to epigenetic disruption in childhood malignancy in order to inform development of novel treatment strategies and diagnostic/prognostic clinical tests. This research is funded by various philanthropic bodies.
Childhood Epigenetics and Early Life Adversity
This research aims to understand how early life exposure (in utero or early postnatal) to specific environmental factors modifies the developing epigenetic profile
- Peri/postnatal Epigenetics Study (PETS)
- Barwon Infant Study (BIS)
- CHildhood EpigEnetics Research (CHEER) programme
- Premature Infant Epigenetics Study (PIES)
- Prenatal Epigenetics Study (PEpi)
Martino D, Dang T, Sexton-Oates A, Prescott S, Tang ML, Dhamarge S, et al. Prediction of clinical reactivity in food sensitized infants from blood DNA methylation profiles. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015; In press.
Gordon L, Joo JE, 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. 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 research 22 (8), 1395-1406, 2012
Morenos L, Chatterton Z, Ng JL, Halemba MS, Parkinson-Bates M, Mechinaud F, Elwood N, Saffery R, Wong NC. Hypermethylation and down-regulation of DLEU2 in paediatric acute myeloid leukaemia independent of embedded tumour suppressor miR-15a/16-1. Molecular cancer 2014;13:123
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. European journal of human genetics : EJHG 2014
Martino D, Loke YJ, Gordon L, Ollikainen M, Cruickshank MN, Saffery R, Craig JM. 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 biology 2013;14(5):R42
Saffery R, Morley R, Carlin JB, Joo JH, Ollikainen M, Novakovic B, Andronikos R, Li X, Loke YJ, Carson N, Wallace EM, Umstad MP, Permezel M, et al. Cohort profile: The peri/post-natal epigenetic twins study. International journal of epidemiology 2012;41(1):55-61
Martino D, Maksimovic J, Joo JH, Prescott SL, Saffery R. Genome-scale profiling reveals a subset of genes regulated by DNA methylation that program somatic T-cell phenotypes in humans. Genes Immun 2012;13(5):388-98
Novakovic B, Yuen RK, Gordon L, Penaherrera MS, Sharkey A, Moffett A, Craig JM, Robinson WP, Saffery R. Evidence for widespread changes in promoter methylation profile in human placenta in response to increasing gestational age and environmental/stochastic factors. BMC genomics 2011;12:529
Novakovic B, Wong NC, Sibson M, Ng HK, Morley R, Manuelpillai U, Down T, Rakyan VK, Beck S, Hiendleder S, Roberts CT, Craig JM, 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
Ollikainen M, Smith KR, Joo EJH, Ng HK, Andronikos R, Novakovic B, Aziz NKA, Carlin JB, Morley R, Saffery R, Craig JM. 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 19(21): 4176-4188, 2010