UWA scientist Ryan Lister wins Prime Minister’s prize for life science

Posted: October 29, 2014 at 4:41 am

Professor Ryan Lister says he is humbled by the award.

A scientist from the University of WA says he is humbled to be awarded the Prime Minister's prize for life science.

Professor Ryan Lister researches epigenomes - the chemical compounds surrounding DNA - and is one of six people to receive a prize for science from Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Canberra.

Professor Lister has mapped how genes are turned on and off, revealing why a leaf cell is different from a root cell or a stem cell different from a skin cell.

He said he hoped his research could be used to improve the understanding of the human brain, transform stem-cell medicine and advance agriculture.

"We need to be able to understand how the different cell types of our bodies form and how they form in healthy states, so that we can understand why they might be disturbed in various disease states," Professor Lister said.

He said the epigenome played a pivotal role in normal development and disease or stress states in humans, animals and plants.

"What we've been able to do is create the first maps of how the brain epigenome changes during development," he said.

"What this will allow us to do in the future is to look at a range of neurological disorders to see whether these chemical signposts added to the DNA are changed or disturbed or altered within these various disease states.

"We're also researching how the epigenome might affect plant development and the growth and health of crops.

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UWA scientist Ryan Lister wins Prime Minister's prize for life science

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