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A Perkins Special Event

Wesfarmers Harry Perkins Oration 2021

The Instructions for Life: Unlocking the might and mystery of the epigenome.

With guest speaker, the Perkins’ researcher and epigenetics specialist, Professor Ryan Lister, 2020 Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and joint Scientist of the Year in the 2020 Premier’s Science Awards. 

We all start from a single cell and grow into a body made up of trillions – each with distinct functions and forms.

2020 WA joint-Scientist of the Year, Professor Ryan Lister is fascinated with the enormous complexity and diversity that stems from this single set of instructions.

Derived from the Greek “epi” meaning “above”, the epigenome describes modifications to the genome that do not affect the DNA sequence but determine whether genes are switched on or off where and when they are needed.

As the 2021 Wesfarmers Orator, Prof Lister will explore the nature and functions of the epigenome, the essential roles it plays in development and disease, and emerging advances in reading and writing that may give us unprecedented control over the cells from which we’re made.

About Professor Ryan Lister

The Australian Academy of Science Fellows include the nation’s most celebrated scientific minds, elected by their peers for their innovative research and their contributions to improving knowledge globally.

Professor Ryan Lister has made understanding the genome his life’s work and he continues to make major impacts in this discipline.

Professor Lister’s research focuses on the epigenome, the molecular code superimposed on the genome that plays an important role in controlling how the information stored in the DNA is used by cells.

If you were to imagine the DNA as a musical instrument, the epigenome could be thought of as the sheet music that dictates which notes of the instrument are played.

Professor Lister’s research sheds light on the patterns and roles of the epigenome, which are critical for cellular function and the growth of humans, animals, and plants. His work is driving advances that will provide benefits to agriculture, human health, and medicine.

Professor Lister is a member of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at the University of Western Australia, and holds a joint position for his research on the human epigenome and how it impacts cell function in normal and disease states with the Perkins and UWA.

Professor Lister has previously been awarded some of Australia’s highest scientific honours including the Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year (2014 – Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science), the Ruth Stephens Gani Medal for Distinguished Research in Human Genetics (2014 – Australian Academy of Science), and the 2015 Metcalf Prize from the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia.

Register for this event:

For further information on this event at the Perkins contact us.

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Date and time

Thursday 11 November 2021

6pm – 7:30pm

Arrive 5:45pm for 6pm start.

  • The presentation concludes at 7:30pm followed by refreshments in the foyer


Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research - McCusker Auditorium,
6 Verdun Street, Nedlands, WA

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Location Name
Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research - McCusker Auditorium,
6 Verdun Street, Nedlands, WA