3D model testis cords


Professor Vincent Harley who leads the Sex Development Research group is a molecular geneticist whose research combines basic and translational strategies to address three areas of human sexual differentiation where perturbation leads to disease

  1. Disorders of sex development (DSD)
  2. Gender bias in neurological disease susceptibility
  3. Gender dysphoria.

Theme 1 (gonadal sex)
There is a need to provide a definitive diagnosis in DSD.

First, the lab will use genome-wide analyses of DSD patients (WES, optical mapping), combined with date from DSD animal models (ChIPseq, RNAseq) to identify candidate DSD genes.

Second, the molecular and cellular consequences of perturbing candidate genes and DSD variants will be analysed using cell culture models, organ cultures, and transgenic, knockin and knockout strategies. This work will position each gene in the emerging network of gene activity during gonadal development.

Third, the Sex Development group will continue to share research data with the clinical community to improve the clinical management of DSD patients. The team will also take steps to improve and standardise of the diagnosis of DSD patients and to acquire a more comprehensive patient cohort with which to conduct further genome-wide analyses: a virtuous cycle.

Theme 2 (brain sex)
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease and current therapies only treat symptoms.

First, the team will elucidate the detrimental actions of aberrant brain SRY expression observed in pre-clinical models of Parkinson’s disease (PD). The team will also test my patented SRY-based gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease in a Phase I clinical trial, having shown proof-of-principle in three animal models (patents in 2016, 2017). There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease and our drug is expected to be disease modifying.

Second, the Sex Development group will investigate the genetic basis of gender dysphoria. The team will break new ground by identifying genes and pathways associated with this condition using both candidate gene and genome-wide approaches in a very large cohort.

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Diseases we research

Research Group Head | Professor Vincent Harley

My research focuses on molecular genetics to investigate three areas of human sexual differentiation where perturbation leads to disease: disorders of sex development (DSD), gender bias in neurological disease susceptibility (such as Parkinson’s disease, ADHD and schizophrenia) and gender dysphoria.
Professor Vincent Harley - 2018 NHMRC Fellowship success

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