Professor Ryan Lister

Started at UWA: 2012

Award-winning epigenome researcher

How an organism uses the information encoded in its genome plays a pivotal role in normal cell function and development, as well as disease or stress states in humans, animals and plants. We aim to better understand the processes by which plant and animal cells regulate usage of the information contained in their genomes. Professor Ryan Lister

Professor Ryan Lister has made understanding the human genome his life’s work.

Beginning at UWA with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and genetics, Professor Lister completed his PhD in plant mitochondrial biogenesis. Off the back of his studies, Professor Lister was awarded a Human Frontiers Science Program Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2006 to undertake his postdoctoral studies in Joseph Ecker’s laboratory at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California. Here, his research focused on studying the epigenome, the molecular code superimposed upon the genome that plays important roles in regulating the information contained in the underlying DNA sequence.

He generated 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. He also discovered that when specialised human cells were converted into adult stem cells, the reprogrammed adult stem cells retained a memory of the cell they once were. This work on human epigenome mapping was rated by TIME magazine as the second most important scientific discovery of 2009.

Professor Lister returned home in 2012 and established his own research group, Lister Lab. Research from the group has yielded new insights into the composition and function of the epigenome in a variety of systems, including epigenome reconfiguration during brain development, plant stress response, cellular reprogramming, and vertebrate embryogenesis, as well as construction of new molecular tools for the precise editing of the epigenome.

Currently, Professor Lister is looking at inventing new tools to edit a suite of chemical tags that decorate the genomes of humans, plants and other multicellular organisms. He’s also seeking to explore the role of chemical tags in brain development, which could offer new insights into neurological disorders.

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Paper #4 in “The Hottest Research of 2011” (Thomson ISI): Lister et al. 2011 (Nature) - #1 in Life Sciences, 2011

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Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2012-2016)

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Sylvia and Charles Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellowship & Prime Minister's Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year, 2014

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The Metcalf Prize for Stem Cell Research, 2015



CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Fellowships

  • Development of novel transcriptional regulators and synthetic logic gates for sophisticated control of plant activity and production
  • Dr Brendan Kidd, Professor Ryan Lister, Professor Karam Singh, Professor Kemal Kazan
  • University of Queensland ex NHMRC Project Grants

Epigenetic signatures of abnormal adult neurogenesis in Rett syndrome

  • Professor Ryan Lister

Howard Hughes Medical Institute - International Research Scholars Program

  • Professor Ryan Lister

Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology ex NHMRC Project Grants

  • The Role of a New Class of Chromatin Organising Hub
  • Professor Ryan Lister

Monash University ex ARC Discovery Projects

  • Kruppel-like factors and the methylome
  • Professor Ryan Lister

NHMRC Equipment Grants

  • Purchase of TapeStation 4200 system
  • Professor Ryan Lister, Professor Alistair Forrest, Professor Peter Leedman, Professor Nigel Laing, Dr Ruth Ganss, Emeritus Professor George Yeoh, Dr Archa Fox, Dr Willem Lesterhuis, Professor Camile Farah, Professor Timo Lassmann, Dr Anthony Bosco


Neurotrauma Research Program

  • Characterising the role of the dynamic epigenome in neurotrauma treatment
  • Professor Ryan Lister, Associate Professor Jennifer Rodger

Research opportunities

Contact via ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology

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