"This is an exciting new area of research
that may have far-reaching implications for
how we understand inheritance,"

- A/Professor Cath Suter 

A/Professor Cath Suter

head, Epigenetics laboratory

Research Overview

Key Research Areas

  • Germline epimutation
  • Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance
  • Epigenomic response to early environmental stress
  • DNA methylation
  • Small noncoding RNAs
  • Bioinformatics
  • Next-generation sequencing
  • Cloud computing

Research Overview

Dr Suter’s laboratory focuses on epigenetics. Epigenetics can be defined as the study of heritable changes in gene expression that do not involve changes in the DNA sequence itself. Epigenetics provides the primary mode of gene regulation in eukaryotes but remains a complex system that is poorly understood. Dr Suter’s group is dedicated to the investigation of the role that epigenetics plays in phenotypic variation and human disease.

research projects

There are 2 key projects underway in the Epigenetics Laboratory, led by A/Prof Cath Suter;

1. Epimutations, a type of epigenetic accident where a gene becomes silent when it should be active

In collaboration with doctors at St Vincent’s Hospital the laboratory has identified individuals who show evidence of epigenetic inactivation of a disease gene, and have the disease that is known to occur when the same gene is inactivated by a genetic mutation. There is also evidence that an affected person may pass an epimutation on to his or her children. This discovery may explain how human disease can be caused by changes in gene expression that are not inherited in the same way as genes.

2. The role of nutrition and in utero environment in epigenetic variation and inheritance

The group has recently found that vitamin supplementation in genetically identical mice can have a health effect that is mediated by epigenetic changes and persists for generations.

laboratory members & collaborators


Jennifer Cropley, Senior Postdoctoral Scientist  

Sally Eaton, Post Doctoral Scientist 

David Humphreys, Senior Staff Scientist  

Alistair Aiken, Research Assistant 

Paul Young,Senior Research Assistant 

Navind Jayasooriah, PhD Student 


Professor David Martin, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute

Professor Alan Cooper, University of Adelaide

Professor Caroline McMillen, University of Newcastle

A/Prof Janna Morrison, University of South Australia

Professor Thomas Preiss, JCSMR, ANU

A/Professor Richard Buckland,  University of New South Wales 

Dr Mark Cowley, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Professor Rob Richards, University of Adelaide

Professor Mark Febbraio, Baker IDI

publication highlights

1. Burgess, J.K., Hotchkiss, K.A., Suter, C.M., Dudman, N.P.B., Chesterman, C.N., Chong, B.H. and Hogg, P.J. (2000) Physical proximity and functional association of glycoprotein 1b and protein-disulfide isomerase on the platelet plasma membrane. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 275, 9758-9766. [IF: 5.854; 69 citations]

2. Suter, C.M., Hogg, P.J., Price, J.T., Chong, B.H. and Ward, R.L. (2001) Identification and characterisation of a platelet GPIb/V/IX-like complex on human breast cancers: Implications for the metastatic process. Japanese Journal of Cancer Research, 92, 1082-1092. [IF: 4.800; 7 citations]

3. Suter, C.M., Morgan, G., Hanby, A., Hawkins, N.J. and Ward, R.L. (2002) Clinicopathological correlates of GPIbα expression in human breast cancers. Anticancer Research, 22, 1251-1255. [IF: 1.410]

4. Bariol, C.*, Suter, C.M.*, Cheong, K., Ku, S.L., Meagher, A., Hawkins, N. and Ward, R. (2003) The relationship between hypomethylation and CpG island methylation in colorectal neoplasia. American Journal of Pathology, 162, 1361-1371. [*co-first authors; Editorial commentary in same issue] [IF: 5.917; 110 citations]

5. Quinn, E., Hawkins, N., Yip, Y.L., Suter, C.M. and Ward, R. (2003) CD103+ intraepithelial lymphocytes – A unique population in microsatellite unstable sporadic colorectal cancer. European Journal of Cancer, 39, 469-475. [IF: 4.475; 15 citations]

6. Suter, C.M., Norrie, M., Ku, S.L., Cheong, K.F., Tomlinson, I. and Ward, R.L. (2003) CpG island methylation is a common finding in colorectal cancer cell lines. British Journal of Cancer, 88, 413-419. [IF: 4.846; 32 citations]

7. Suter, C.M., Martin, D.I. and Ward, R.L. (2004) Hypomethylation of L1 retrotransposons in colorectal cancer and adjacent normal tissue. International Journal of Colorectal Disease, 19, 95-101. [IF: 1.767; 69 citations]

8. Suter, C.M., Martin, D.I.K. and Ward, R.L. (2004) Germline epimutation of MLH1 in individuals with multiple cancers. Nature Genetics, 36, 497-501. [IF: 30.259; 235 citations]

9. Hitchins, M., Williams, R., Cheong, K., Halani, N., Lin, V.A.P., Packham, D., Ku, S., Buckle, A., Hawkins, N., Burn, J. Suter, C.M. et al. (2005) MLH1 germline epimutations as a factor in hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. Gastroenterology, 129, 1392-1399. [IF: 12.561; 89 citations]

10. Martin, D.I.K., Ward, R. and Suter, C.M. (2005) Germline epimutation as a basis for human disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 1054, pp. 68-77. [IF: 2.303; 23 citations]

11. Cropley, J.E., Suter, C.M., Beckman, K.B. and Martin, D.I.K. (2006) Germ-line epigenetic modification of the murine Avy allele by nutritional supplementation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103, 17308-17312. [IF: 9.380; 143 citations]

12. Hitchins, M., Suter, C.M., Wong, J., Cheong, K., Hawkins, N., Leggett, B., Scott, R., Spigelman, A., Tomlinson, I., Martin, D. et al. (2006) Germline epimutations of APC are not associated with inherited colorectal polyposis [11]. Gut, 55, 586-587. [IF: 9.766; 7 citations]

13. Hitchins, M.P., Lin, V.A., Buckle, A., Cheong, K., Halani, N., Ku, S., Kwok, C.T., Packham, D., Suter, C.M., Meagher, A. et al. (2007) Epigenetic inactivation of a cluster of genes flanking MLH1 in microsatellite-unstable colorectal cancer. Cancer Research, 67, 9107-9116. [IF: 7.514; 36 citations]

14. Hitchins, M.P., Wong, J.J.L., Suthers, G., Suter, C.M., Martin, D.I.K., Hawkins, N.J. and Ward, R.L. (2007) Inheritance of a cancer-associated MLH1 germ-line epimutation. New England Journal of Medicine, 356, 697-705. [IF: 52.589; 172 citations]

15. Cropley, J.E., Martin, D.I. and Suter, C.M. (2008) Germline epimutation in humans. Pharmacogenomics, 9, 1861-1868. [IF: 5.4351; 9 citations]

16. Martin, D.I.K., Cropley, J.E. and Suter, C.M. (2008) Environmental influence on epigenetic inheritance at the Avy allele. Nutrition Reviews, 66, S12-S14. [IF: 3.503; 11 citations]

17. Cropley, J.E. and Suter, C.M. (2008) An epigenetic basis for fetal programming. Highlights, 16, 22-26. [IF: NA]

18. Ng, L.J., Cropley, J.E., Pickett, H.A., Reddel, R.R. and Suter, C.M. (2009) Telomerase activity is associated with an increase in DNA methylation at the proximal subtelomere and a reduction in telomeric transcription. Nucleic Acids Res, 37, 1152-1159. [IF: 7.836; 32 citations]

19. Cropley, J.E., Suter, C.M., Beckman, K.B. and Martin, D.I.K. (2010) CpG methylation of a silent controlling element in the murine A vy allele is incomplete and unresponsive to methyl donor supplementation. PLoS ONE, 5(2): e9055. [IF: 4.351; 10 citations]

20. Li, C.C.Y., Maloney, C.A., Cropley, J.E.,Suter, C.M. (2010) Epigenetic programming by maternal nutrition: shaping future generations. Epigenomics, 2: 539-49 [IF: 3.429; 4 citations]

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