News & Events November 1, 2021

A public oration from award-winning scientist who mapped the human epigenome

The 2020 joint Scientist of the Year in the Premier’s Science Awards, Professor Ryan Lister, will give this year’s Wesfarmers Harry Perkins Oration on Thursday November 11 at 6pm at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

As the 2021 Wesfarmers Orator, Prof Lister from the Harry Perkins Institute, will explore the nature and functions of the epigenome and the essential roles it plays in development and disease.

“The cells that form all our different organs differ from each other and have distinct forms and functions but how does this enormous complexity and diversity arise from the same set of instructions present in each of our cells?

“We start as one cell and then become an adult with approximately 38 trillion cells and hundreds of different types of cells. How an organism uses the information encoded in its genome plays a pivotal role in normal cell function and development,” he said.

Professor Lister’s fascination in the topic led to him generating the first comprehensive maps of the human epigenome, finding that the chemical signposts that comprise the epigenome differ greatly between embryonic stem cells and specialised adult cells.

This work on human epigenome mapping was rated by TIME magazine as the second most important scientific discovery of 2009.

“The genome is like the keys of a piano which are fixed and each key will play a different note and the epigenome is more like sheet music which gives for each piece a different set of combination of keys to use.”

Professor Lister’s work is driving advances that will provide benefits to agriculture, human health, and medicine.

Click here to secure your seat at Professor Lister’s oration.

Media Contact:  Miriam Borthwick
M 0437 411 683 | [email protected]