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Centenary Institute - Medical Research
Centenary Institute - Medical Research

Epigenetics and RNA Biology Program

We focus on discovering and understanding the roles of novel mechanisms that control gene expression in normal physiology and cancer. Our breakthrough work published in the eminent journal, Cell, in 2013 showed that a mode of RNA processing called “intron retention” is crucial to regulate cellular differentiation.

We have since demonstrated that intron retention is widespread (Genome Biology 2017) and is regulated by epigenetic changes (Nature Communication 2017). Building on these discoveries, a major interest of our lab is to determine how mistakes in this type of RNA processing lead to cancer development.

Other major interest of our laboratory is to determine the role of RNA modifications in normal cell differentiation and cancer. Over 100 types of RNA modifications have been identified to date. However, their functions in normal and cancer biology are largely unknown. We are passionate to establish the role of RNA modifications in the regulation of myriad biological processes, including alternative splicing, protein translation and RNA stability. We are excited at the prospect of understanding how these modifications become abnormal in cancer, and potential new therapeutic targets that may arise from these discoveries.

Dr. Justin Wong, Faculty

Phone: +612 95656175
Email: j.wong@centenary.org.au

Dr Justin Wong is the Head of the Epigenetics and RNA Biology Program at the Centenary Institute, University of Sydney. He has over 15 years of experience in epigenetic and RNA biology research, which focuses mainly on understanding how these key molecular mechanisms govern cellular differentiation, and how aberrancies in these mechanisms lead to diseases including cancer and inflammatory disorder. His vision is to acquire knowledge concerning epigenetic changes, alternative splicing and RNA modification, which may be useful for the development of novel therapies for human diseases.

Dr Wong is a previous recipient of a Cancer Research Network Early Career Researcher Award in 2016. In 2018, he received one of the twenty Sydney Research Accelerator Prizes for early- to mid-career researchers within the University of Sydney. He is the recipient of the prestigious Ruth Stephens Gani Medal in 2019, awarded by the Australian Academy of Science to recognise his outstanding contribution to the field of human genetics.


  • Dr Chau-To Kwok, Postdoc
  • Natalia Pinello, Research Assistant
  • Dr Alex Wong, PhD Student
  • Immanuel Green, Honours Student

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For access to all Publications via Pub Med.