Professor Evan Simpson AO, FAA FRSE

  • Distinguished Scientist, Hudson Institute
  • Honorary Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University
  • Group Leader, Victorian Breast Cancer Research Consortium Inc
  • Role: Distinguished Scientist, Hudson Institute

Professor Evan Simpson was Director of Prince Henry’s Institute (now Hudson Institute of Medical Research) from 1999 to 2006.

He is the Laboratory Director of the Victorian Breast Cancer Research Consortium. This consortium involves eight medical research institutes and was established in 1997 to conduct world class research into breast cancer.

Professor Evan Simpson is a world leader in the field of oestrogen biosynthesis. His work has focussed on the study of aromatase, the enzyme responsible for oestrogen biosynthesis.

His group was the first to clone the gene encoding aromatase, and to show that tissue-specific regulation was under the control of tissue-specific promoters. His research led to the concept that oestrogen action in post-menopausal women is due to local production in sites such as the breast, bone and brain. This has led to the development of drugs for breast cancer therapy which specifically inhibit aromatase expression in the breast but spare other sites where it serves a critical role, such as in the bone, brain and blood vessels.

Professor Simpson’s work also led to the creation of the first aromatase knockout (ArKO) mouse, which is a model of oestrogen insufficiency that compares with the phenotype of humans with natural mutations in aromatase. This resulted in the discovery of new and unexpected roles for oestrogens in both males and females, in particular the role of oestrogens in the maintenance of bone metabolism in men and the role of oestrogens in the regulation of energy homeostasis in both sexes.

His current research is focused on the role of oestrogen in several important health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and, of course, breast cancer.


Steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, transgenic models

Recent Achievements:

2009 – Awarded Senior Principal Research Fellowship, NHMRC
2006 – Elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science
2006 – Recipient of the Nancy Brinker Award from the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
2005 – Recipient of the Roy O Greep Lecturer Award from the US Endocrine Society
2005 – Recipient of the Asia-Oceania Medal from the UK Society for Endocrinology
2003 – Listed as one of only 3 Australians in Thompson ISI Most Highly Cited in the area of biology and biochemistry
2002 – Awarded the Earl Plunkett Lecturer of the University of Western Ontario

Current Research:

Obesity and breast cancer risk
Insulin resistance in the aromatase knockout mouse

Selected publications

  • Brown KA, McInnes KJ, Hunger NI, Oakhill JS, Steinberg GR, Simpson ER. Subcellular localization of cyclic AMP-responsive element binding protein-regulated transcription coactivator 2 provides a link between obesity and breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Cancer Res. 2009 Jul 1;69(13):5392-9.

  • McInnes KJ, Corbould A, Simpson ER, Jones ME. Regulation of AMPK and lipogenesis by androgens contributes to visceral obesity in an estrogen deficient state. Endocrinology 147(12):5907-13 (2006).

  • Le May C, Chu K, Ku M, Ortega CS, Simpson ER¸Korach KS, Tsai MJ, Mauvais-Jarvis F. Estrogens protect pancreatic beta cells from apoptosis and prevent insulin-deficient diabetes mellitus in mice. Proceedings from the Natinoal Academy of Sciences (USA) 24:9232-9237 (2006).

  • Hill RA, McInnes KJ, Gong EC, Jones ME, Simpson ER, Boon WC. Estrogen deficient male mice develop compulsive behaviour. Biol Psychiatry 61(3):359-66 2007

  • Safi R, Kovacic A, Gaillard S, Murata Y, Simpson ER, McDonnell DP, Clyne CD. Coactivation of LRH-1 by PGC-1 an aromatase promoter II and its activation by RXR suggest a novel target for breast-specific antioestrogen therapy. Cancer Research 65(24):11762-11770 (2005)

  • Zhou J, Suzuki T, Kovacic A, Saito R, Miki Y, Ishida T, Moriya T, Simpson ER, Sasano H, Clyne CD. Interactions between prostaglandin E2, liver receptor homologue-1, and aromatase in breast cancer. Cancer Res 65:657-663, 2005

  • Simpson ER, Misso M, Hewitt KN, Hill RA, Boon WC, Jones MEE, Kovacic A, Zhou J, Clyne CD. Estrogens: The good, the bad, and the unexpected. Endocrine Reviews 26:322-330, 2005

  • Maffei L, Murata Y, Rochira V, Tubert G, Aranda C, Vazques M, Clyne CD, Davis S, Simpson ER, Carani C. Dysmetabolic syndrome in a man with a novel mutation of the aromatase gene:effects of testosterone, alendronate and estradiol treatment. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 89:61-70 (2004)