Dr Stephin Vervoort is a researcher in the field of gene regulation in cancer with over 10 years of experience. He currently heads a laboratory within the Epigenetic and Development division at WEHI that aims to unravel fundamental steps in transcription of DNA into mRNA.
His research aims to unravel how the ‘messenger factory’, called RNA Polymerase II (RNAPII), works, and to understand how dysregulation in RNAPII can lead to human diseases. In cancer, disruption of RNAPII-mediated gene regulation can fuel aggressive cancer growth. Dr Vervoort’s research aims to understand how the RNAPII machinery works, what causes it to malfunction in cancer and which components should be targeted therapeutically. His ultimate goal is to create treatments that can prevent the cell’s messenger factory from going rogue and stop this process in human cancers. This could lead to new drug treatments to attack cancers that are currently deemed hard to treat, like acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) where survival rates in adult patients remain poor.
Dr Vervoort gained critical experience and training at world-class research institutes, such as the Utrecht University, CRUK at the University of Cambridge and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. His work has been supported by prestigious fellowships such as a Rubicon Fellowship from the Netherlands Scientific Organisation, an NHMRC EL1 Fellowship and a CSL Centenary Fellowship. As a postdoctoral research fellow, he led an innovative research program using state-of-the-art genomics approaches, genome-wide CRISPR-screening and bioinformatics analysis to uncover novel mechanisms of gene regulation and find ways to target those in cancer. Dr Vervoort’s research has led to significant first-time discoveries in transcriptional networks, particularly detailing the discovery of novel transcriptional complexes and regulatory mechanisms that are dysregulated in cancer and can be targeted therapeutically. His work has been published in world-renowned journals such as Cell, Molecular Cell, Science Advances and Cancer Discovery.
Dr Vervoort’s quest to find new treatment options for cancers like leukaemia will bring together molecular biology, advanced genomics, bioinformatics and cancer biology to improve health outcomes in cancer patients in the long term. Through mentoring, supervision and education, Dr Vervoort aims to foster the next generation of scientists, thereby advancing Australia’s scientific landscape.