Professor Simon Conn


College of Medicine and Public Health

place Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer (3L100)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

I have loved the challenges and opportunities of Molecular & Cellular Biology ever since I completed my Bachelor of Biotechnology (Hons) at Flinders University, AUSTRALIA in 2006. My Honours project studied mouse ES cell differentiation and the molecular basis of cell cycle checkpoint acquisition. My PhD and first postdoctoral position involved profiling single cell-specific transcriptomics and ionomics of live plant cells towards illuminating plant salinity tolerance and nutrient acquisition.

Since then, I have worked on mammalian cell biology, in my postdoctoral positions at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (France) and the Centre for Cancer Biology (AUSTRALIA). This is where I discovered how canonical RNAs are the exception, rather than the rule. Uncovering how an entire class of non-coding RNAs, called circular RNAs, are formed and regulated across cell differentiation lead to a seminal publication in the field. At Flinders University, I continue to research how these circular RNAs impact cellular development and cancer (NHMRC Investigator Leadership Grant and Project funding). My laboratory has a particular strength and focus on brain cancer and am a proud founding member of the Australian Brain Alliance, EMCR Brain Science Network, which supports interdisciplinary research among Australian EMCRs.

I have published seminal papers on circular RNAs and other molecular biology-rich projects in eukarytotes in Cell(x2), Nature Biotechnology, Nature Plants, The EMBO Journal (x2), RNA, Genome Biology and other top-ranking journals (20 publications in the past 5 years), with an h-index of 25 at over 100 citations per article. I have also been awarded over $5M in peer-reviewed research grants in the past 5 years.


2000: Bachelor of Biotechnology (Hons), Flinders University
2006: Doctor of Philosophy, Flinders University

Honours, awards and grants

I have been continuously supported with peer-reviewed fellowships for the past 10 years, in Australia and France. Commencing in 2011, and enabling my transition from plant molecular biology to mammalian molecular biology, I undertook a postdoctoral fellowship at the EMBL, France (2011-2013); then a Florey Research Fellowship to join the Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB, 2013-2015). In 2015, I was recognised by the CNRS with a permanent research fellowship through their global recruitment process (concours) as the top-ranked candidate and a laboratory establishment fund. Upon receiving an ARC Future Fellowship (2017-2020), I returned to Australia to head my laboratory. I now hold a prestigious NHMRC Investigator Leadership grant (2021-2025), which I am gainfully employing to continue my fundamental and applied molecular biology research. I have received a number of recognitions for my research including runner-up for the Tansley Medal for Excellence in Plant Science (2012). Tall Poppy of South Australia recipient (2015), Simpson Cancer Research Prize, Royal Adelaide Hospital (2016), CCB best paper prize (2016), best oral conference presentations (FEBS-EMBO meeting, France 2015; 9th ANZSCDB meeting, Adelaide, 2015) and University of Adelaide early career researcher award (2012).

Key responsibilities

NHMRC Investigator Leadership Fellow
Head, Circular RNAs in Cancer Laboratory
Lead, FHMRI Bioplatforms and Bioresources
Coordinator, Biomedical Science Honours

Topic coordinator
MMED7004 Biomedical Science Honours
Supervisory interests
Brain cancer
Cancer biology
Molecular Biology
RNA seq
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Brain Cancer (1), Molecular Biology (3)
Associate supervisor: Prostate Cancer (1)
Principal supervisor: Stem Cell Biology (1), Brain cancer (6)
Associate supervisor: Molecular Biology (5)
Higher degree by research student achievements
Laura Gantley

University Medal - APR 2023