Dr Melanie Eckersley-Maslin is a group leader at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and research fellow in the Department of Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Melbourne.
Melanie studied Advanced Sciences with honours at the University of Sydney where she received the university medal before completing her PhD in molecular biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s School of Biological Sciences in New York, USA with Prof David Spector. In 2014, she moved to the Babraham Institute, Cambridge UK to work with Prof Wolf Reik as a postdoctoral research fellow supported by an EMBO Fellowship, Marie Curie Independent Fellowship and a UK government Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Discovery Grant. Her postdoctoral research focused on the epigenetic control of early embryonic cell fate transitions including zygotic genome activation and gastrulation. This led to the discovery of new control factors that are important in early embryonic development.
Melanie is applying her previous research in embryonic development in the USA and UK, and her discovery of factors that control embryonic development, to understand cancer progression. Her research explores how cell identity and function is established in embryos and how these processes are deregulated in cancers, with the ultimate aim to identify new prognostic markers and therapeutic targets.
In 2020, Melanie was awarded the prestigious 2020 Metcalf prize for Stem Cell Research by the National Stem Cell Foundation reflecting her upcoming leadership in the field. In 2021, she returned to Australia as a group leader at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre investigating the concepts of epigenetic plasticity in development and cancer using stem cell and cancer models and single-cell and CRISPR-based technologies.