Associate Professor Simon Conn

ARC Future Fellow

Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer

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. I continue to research how these circular RNAs impact cellular development (Australian Research Council Future Fellowship) and cancer (NHMRC-project funding).

I have published seminal papers on circRNAs and other molecular biology-rich projects in eukarytotes in Cell, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Plants, The EMBO Journal and other top-ranking journals (20 publications in the past 5 years), with an h-index of 21 at over 80 citations per article. I have also been awarded over $2M in peer-reviewed research grants in the past 3 years.

Honours, awards and grants

I have been continuously supported with peer-reviewed fellowships for the past 8 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 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). I have also been recognised as a full member of the Centre for Cancer Biology.

Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Stem Cell Biology (1), Brain Cancer (1)
Associate supervisor: Molecular Biology (5)

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