Skip to content


February 2021

Zika Virus Changes Methylation of Genes Involved in Immune Response and Neural Development in Brazilian Babies Born With Congenital Microcephaly

The recent increase in babies born with brain and eye malformations in Brazil is associated with Zika virus (ZIKV) infection in utero. ZIKV alters host DNA methylation in vitro. Using genome-wide DNA methylation profiling we compared 18 babies born with congenital ZIKV microcephaly with 20 controls. We found ZIKV-associated alteration of host methylation patterns, notably at RABGAP1L which is important in brain development, at viral host immunity genes MX1 and ISG15, and in an epigenetic module containing the causal microcephaly gene MCPH1. Our data support the hypothesis that clinical signs of congenital ZIKV are associated with changes in DNA methylation.

Published research Academic Biostatistics Infectious Diseases Genetics and Health
November 2020

Genetics, Transcriptomics and Meta-Taxonomics in Visceral Leishmaniasis

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) caused by parasites of the Leishmania donovani complex can be fatal in susceptible individuals. Understanding the interactions between host and pathogen is one way to obtain leads to develop better drugs and for vaccine development. In recent years multiple omics-based approaches have assisted researchers to gain a more global picture of this interaction in leishmaniasis. Here we review results from studies using three omics-based approaches to study VL caused by L. donovani in India.

Published research Infectious Diseases Genetics and Health
December 2020

A flexible computational pipeline for research analyses of unsolved clinical exome cases

Exome sequencing has enabled molecular diagnoses for rare disease patients but often with initial diagnostic rates of ~25-30%. Here we develop a robust computational pipeline to rank variants for reassessment of unsolved rare disease patients. A comprehensive web-based patient report is generated in which all deleterious variants can be filtered by gene, variant characteristics, OMIM disease and Phenolyzer scores, and all are annotated with an ACMG classification and links to ClinVar.

Published research Computational Biology Genetics and Health
October 2020

Repair of an Attenuated Low-Passage Murine Cytomegalovirus Bacterial Artificial Chromosome Identifies a Novel Spliced Gene Essential for Salivary Gland Tropism

The cloning of herpesviruses as bacterial artificial chromosomes (BAC) has revolutionized the study of herpesvirus biology, allowing rapid and precise manipulation of viral genomes. Several clinical strains of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) have been cloned as BACs; however, no low-passage strains of murine CMV, which provide a model mimicking these isolates, have been cloned. Here, the low-passage G4 strain of was BAC cloned. G4 carries an m157 gene that does not ligate the natural killer cell-activating receptor, Ly49H, meaning that unlike laboratory strains of MCMV, this virus replicates well in C57BL/6 mice.

Published research Genetics and Health
February 2013

Common variants in the HLA-DRB1-HLA-DQA1 HLA class II region are associated with susceptibility to visceral leishmaniasis

A conditional analysis provided evidence for multiple associations within the HLA-DRB1-HLA-DQA1 region,and a model in which risk differed between three...

Published research Genetics and Health
January 2016

The rare and undiagnosed diseases diagnostic service – application of massively parallel sequencing in a state-wide clinical service

The Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases Diagnostic Service refers to a genomic diagnostic platform operating within the Genetic Services of Western Australia

Published research Computational Biology Genetics and Health

Professor Jenefer Blackwell, Australian Academy of Science Fellow


The Goanna and the Journey of the Genes