Dr Megan Chircop

Medicine, Children's Medical Research Institute

Children's Medical Research Institute
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006 Australia

T: +61 2 9687 2800
F: +61 2 9687 2120

Biographical details

I am a molecular and cellular biologist with research interests focusing on the molecular mechanisms of mitosis and cancer. I obtained my BSc Honours degree in molecular biology/biochemistry at Macquarie University in 1999. I have a PhD in cancer research at the University of Sydney in 2002. My first post-doc position was at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) in Brisbane where I worked for 3 years. I then moved to the Children's Medical Research Institute (CMRI) in Sydney in 2006 as an NH&MRC Peter Doherty Fellow. Since 2008, I am an NHMRC CDA Fellow and currently head the CellCycle Unit at the CMRI consisting of 10 members. I am a leading scientist in my discipline and show scientific leadership.

Research interests

The major focus of my laboratory is to precisely define the mechanisms regulating mitotic cell division. Understanding the molecular regulation of mitosis will allow us to gain insight into cancer biology mechanisms. Despite the identification of many mitotic proteins, the molecular mechanisms driving mitotic progression and how these proteins cooperatively function to complete mitosis in mammalian cells is not fully understood. Cell division errors increase the oncogenic potential of a cell. Thus understanding this basic biological process underpins our understanding of cancer biology mechanisms, which can lead to the identification of druggable targets to treat this disease. My discoveries to date in this field have enabled me to develop a well respected national and international reputation in this field. This provides me with a strong foundation that I aim to continue developing in the future. My research will continue to expand in two areas: 1) Basic research: molecular mechanisms of mitosis 2) Translational biology: drug discovery of new anti-mitotic compounds for cancer treatment.

Teaching areas

After only 8 post-doc years, I have contributed substantially to teaching, training and mentoring young scientists to an unusually high level. In the past 7 years at the CMRI my team has consistent of 10-12 members and currently involves 3RAs , 4PhDs, 3postdocs whereby I am directly involved in training and mentoring them all. Overall, I have supervised 11 students (8 PhD and 3 Honours). All three honours students completed with first class, 1 has completed a PhD (2011), another has established a career in the Governor General's Office of Australia and the third is about to commence a PhD in my lab (2013). All of my PhD students have received prestigious awards including external scholarships such as the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA). Four PhD students have completed their PhDs and three of these have postdoc positions in prestigious international labs including Beatson's Institute (Scotland), Max Plank Gesellschaft Institute (Germany) and Queens University Belfast (Ireland) and the other is an Application Specialist/Territory Manager at Promega. I anticipate that my postgraduate supervisory commitment will continue at 3-4 students per year. Since 2009, I have been an active member of the CMRI PhD review committee that assesses the annual progress of research students within CMRI. I have also mentored 5 post-docs in the past 5 years to aid in advancing their scientific careers. One of these post-docs (Dr Rose Boutros) was an NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellow (2008-2011) and has received NHMRC project, Cure Cancer Australia and Ramaciotti grant funding for her own projects.

Current national competitive grants*


The role of clathrin in the spindle assembly checkpoint and as an anti-cancer target
Chircop M, Robinson P, McCluskey A, Sakoff J
NHMRC Project Grants ($629,685 over 3 years)

* Grants administered through the University of Sydney