After obtaining a Medical Doctorate from the University of Hamburg (Germany), I pursued postdoctoral studies at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Following another postdoctoral period with Bruce Kemp at SVI, I took up the post of Laboratory Head at SVI in 1998.

My general interest is in the use of genetic model organisms and molecular biology approaches to understand the fundamental principles of normal cell functions and the underlying mechanisms of human disease processes. My specific interests relate to the control of cell proliferation with relevance for cancer onset and cancer therapies, including DNA damage responses and cell survival pathways.

My work has been funded by highly competitive and prestigious national and international research grants, including 13 NHMRC Project Grants and 4 NHMRC Fellowships as lead investigator, 2 Cancer Council of Victoria Grants-in-Aid, as well as funds form Worldwide Cancer Research (UK), Human Frontiers Science Program (France) and the German Federal Research Council.

My work has been published as first or corresponding author in high-profile peer-reviewed international scientific journals (including Nature, Molecular Cell, Journal of Experimental Medicine, EMBO Journal, PLOS Genetics, Molecular Cell Biology and Journal of Biological Chemistry).

I have supervised more than a dozen successful PhD completions. My students have been awarded highly prestigious international (2x EMBO, 1 Human Frontiers) and national (3x NHMRC, 3x Cancer Council) postdoctoral fellowships, and two of them are now full Professors in Australia and overseas.

Key achievements

2002-2016   NHMRC Senior Research Fellow

1998-2001   NHMRC RD Wright Career Development Fellow


Selected publications

Heierhorst J, Kobe B, Feil SC, Parker MW, Benian GM, Weiss KR & Kemp BE (1996). Ca2+/S100 regulation of giant protein kinases. Nature 380, 636-39

McNees CJ, Conlan LA, Tenis N & Heierhorst J (2005). ASCIZ regulates lesion-specific RAD51 focus formation and apoptosis after methylating DNA damage. EMBO J. 24, 2447-2457.

Lee H, Yuan C, Hammet A, Mahajan A, Wu MR, Chen ESW, Su MI, Heierhorst J* & Tsai MD (2008). Diphosphothreonine-specific interaction between an SQ/TQ cluster and an FHA domain in the Rad53-Dun1 kinase cascade. Mol. Cell 30, 767-778. (*co-senior author)

Jurado S, Gleeson K, O’Donnell K, Izon DJ, Walkley CR, Strasser A, Tarlinton DM & Heierhorst J (2012).  The Zinc-finger protein ASCIZ regulates B cell development via DYNLL1 and Bim.  J. Exp. Med. 209, 1629-1639.

Wong DM, Li L, Jurado S, King A, Bamford R, Wall M, Walia MK, Kelly GL, Walkley KR, Tarlinton DM, Strasser A & Heierhorst J (2016).  The transcription factor ASCIZ and its target DYNLL1 are essential for the development and expansion of MYC-driven B cell lymphoma. Cell Reports 14, 1488-1499.

Becker JR, Cuella-Martin R, Barazas M, Liu R, Oliveira C, Oliver AW, Bilham K, Holt AB, Blackford AN, Heierhorst J, Jonkers J, Rottenberg S & Chapman JR (2018). The ASCIZ-DYNLL1 axis promotes 53BP1-dependent non-homologous end joining and PARP inhibitor sensitivity. Nature Commun. 9, 5406.

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