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Centre Head, Centre for Genetic Diseases, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Professor.

Prior to his appointment as Director of the Centre for Genetic Diseases (formerly known as the Centre for Reproduction and Development) in November 2009, Professor St. John most recently held the position of Professor of Reproductive Biology, at the Mitochondrial and Reproductive Genetics Research Group, Clinical Sciences Research Institute, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, UK.

After completing his degree in Physiology at the University of Sheffield in 1995, Professor St. John completed his PhD entitled ‘The role of mitochondria in male fertility’ at the University of Birmingham. In 2000, Professor St. John was appointed as a Lecturer in Mitochondrial and Reproductive Genetics at the University of Birmingham. Along with running his research program, he provided undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and supervision and was the divisional coordinator for graduate studies.

From March 2000 until January 2001, Professor St. John undertook a Sabbatical as a Mellon Fellow at Professor Gerald Schatten’s laboratory at Oregon National Primate Research Center in the USA. Professor St. John was also awarded an Endeavour Fellowship in 2007 to undertake research work at Monash Institute of Medical Research (now the Hudson Institute). This allowed him to familiarise himself with the Institute and its research and establish some of his program in Australia.

He has numerous publications in international journals, including The Lancet, Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Cell Biology, Nucleic Acids Research, Cell Death & Differentiation, Stem Cells, Development, Journal of Cell Science and Genetics. Professor St. John also reviews submissions for a number of journals and grant-awarding bodies and is Reviews Editor for Molecular Human Reproduction. In the UK, he advised Government, Parliament and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on policy related to stem cells and reproduction. He also advised the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority on stem cells and embryo policy, and reviewed licence applications. In 2013, he received the Society for Reproductive Biology’s Award for Excellence in Reproductive Biology.

The overall aim of Professor St. John’s research is to understand how mitochondrial DNA is replicated, transmitted and segregated during development in order that cells, tissues and organs function efficiently. He is applying this knowledge to develop reproductive strategies for women that suffer from repeated failed fertilisation outcome or embryo developmental arrest; and enhanced genetics for animal breeding purposes.

His current research focuses on developing and using stem cell and large animal models to define key mitochondrial DNA replication events during development and how they influence reproductive and developmental outcomes.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research area keywords

  • mitochondrial DNA
  • oocytes
  • embryos
  • pluripotency
  • development
  • differentiation


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