Research areas

  • Blood Diseases, Epigenetics, Leukemia, Stem Cell Biology, Transplantation biology

Biography

Associate Professor Curtis is Head of the Division of Blood Cancer Research of the Austraiian Centre for Blood Diseases and member of the Clinical Haematology Service. His research program uses mouse models to dissect the genetic and epigenetic regulation of normal and leukemic stem cells. He is currently a Charles and Sylvia Viertel Senior Clincial Research Fellow. He has published 40 papers including articles in Science, Cell Stem Cell, PNAS and Blood.

Associate Professor Curtis completed his training as a Clinical Haematologist and Bone Marrow Transplant Physician through the University of Melbourne in 1994. He was awarded a NHMRC postgraduate scholarship at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research (1994-1997) which used animal models of hematologic malignancy to study oncogene co-operation. A/Professor Curtis was awarded a NHMRC CJ Martin fellowship for post-doctoral studies in the laboratory of Dr David Bodine at the NIH (1998-2001) to study the function of the non-histone DNA binding HMGB3 protein in adult hematopoietic stem cell. In 2001 A/Professor Curtis returned to Royal Melbourne Hospital to establish a research program focused on the molecular mechanisms that control the fate of normal and malignant hematopoietic stem cells. In 2011, he moved to the Department of Haematology, Monash University and Alfred Health as the head of the new Division of Blood Cancer Research of the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases.

The research program of A/Prof Curtis aims to identify improved therapies for acute leukemia and related blood cancers through the use of mouse models to dissect the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that control the fate of normal and malignant hematopoietic stem cells. In addition, A/Prof Curtis uses ENU-mutagenesis for discovery of genes that regulate hematopoiesis. Specific areas of focus include the bHLH transcription factor complex that drives T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the mechanisms of oncogene-induced apoptosis in myelodysplasia, the role of epigenetic changes in acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplasia and the therapeutic potential of small molecule inhibitors of the protein arginine methyltransferase, PRMT5.

A/Professor Curtis has 33 peer reviewed papers including publications in Science (2010), Cell Stem Cell (2009), Nature Structural and Molecular Biology (2009) and Blood (2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011). In 2011, A/Professor Curtis was awarded a Charles and Sylvia Viertel Senior Research Fellowship and honorary NHMRC Practitioner and Victorian Cancer Agency Fellowships. A/Prof Curtis has been on the editorial board for the journal Stem Cells since 2007 and has acted as an independent advisor for the Australian Stem Cell Centre and Amgen. A/Prof Curtis has been an invited speaker to conferences including the International Society of Experimental Hematology and New Directions in Leukemia Research. A/Prof Curtis has been an external reviewer for numerous NHMRC project grants since 2005 as well as on the scientific advisory panel for review of Leukemia Foundation and the NSW Cancer Council Program grants. In addition to his research program, he is an active clinical haematologist and bone marrow transplant physician at Alfred Health.

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