Professor Vanessa Hayes

Petre Chair of Prostate Cancer Research
Medicine, Central Clinical School

Website Garvan Profile


Biographical details

Prof Hayes completed a PhD at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands in 1999, defining the genetic landscape of key regulator genes driving common human cancers. Returning to South Africa briefly, she headed a Genetics Laboratory focused on genetic risk factors associated with HIV/AIDS. Her interest in prostate cancer sparked by the late Prof Chris Heyns (1949-2014).

In 2003, she joined the Garvan Institute of Medical Research where she led a Cancer Genetics group focused on defining prostate cancer genetic risk factors in Australian men. This work awarded her the Cancer Institute of New South Wales Premier's Award for Cancer Research Fellow (2007), an Australian Young Tall Poppy Award for Science (2008) and the Australian Academy of Science Inaugural Ruth Stephens Gani Medal for Human Genetics (2008).

Driven by advances in technology, in 2008 she moved to the Children's Cancer Institute of Australia to establish one of the countries first next generation sequencing research laboratories. She used this technology to drive two large efforts, namely the Southern African Genome Project (Nature 2010) and the Tasmanian Devil Genome Project (PNAS 2011). These efforts resulted in representing Australia as a Fulbright Professional Scholar (Penn State University) and a Professorship at the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego.

In 2014, Prof Hayes returned full-time to Australia and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research as the University of Sydney's Petre Chair of Prostate Cancer Research, where she is continuing her research efforts in human comparative and prostate cancer genomics. She has maintained her interest in technology development.

Research interests

Human genomics, Human diversity, Genome Mapping, Prostate cancer, Cancer disparities, Cancer genomics, Genetic epidemiology, Population genetics, Human evolution, Human migration, Human adaptation, Southern Africa, Indigenous genomics, Mitochondrial genomics, Genomic technology.

Bioinformatics Scientist - Cancer Genomics

We are seeking a Junior Postdoctoral Scientist or someone with equivalent informatics expertise to join the Laboratory for Human Comparative and Prostate Cancer Genomics located at The Kinghorn Cancer Centre, as part of the University of Sydney and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, within Darlinghurst, Sydney. This is a newly funded bioinformatics position, from the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre NSW, to examine genomic alterations driving prostate cancer and treatment response.

The project is prefaced on the hypothesis that somatic (acquired) genomic alterations are fundamental drivers of clinical heterogeneity and treatment response in prostate cancer. We seek to identify the somatic genomic landscape as potential biomarkers of disease and treatment outcome, using whole-genome sequencing of tumour and matched normal patient samples. The successful candidate will focus on the implementation and development of statistical/computational tools to analyse next-generation sequencing (NGS) data to identify somatic variations associated with prostate cancer outcome.

The successful candidate will possess the following key skills and attributes:

  • Relevant undergraduate or postgraduate degree in a relevant field (eg bioinformatics, cancer genomics, or comparative genomics)
  • Familiarity of NGS technologies, particularly of the Illumina platform
  • Experience of bioinformatics tools and analytical approaches of NGS data
  • Ability and willingness to write scientific reports
  • The ability to work independently and as part of a dynamic team
  • A high attention to details and ability to carry out high quality work
  • Excellent communication skills for written reports and oral presentations
  • Experience of supervising/teaching junior staff and students is highly desirable

The role is a full-time position for an initial 12 month contract period with option of extension. Ideal start date would be earliest convenience in 2015. Applications are being accepted immediately and will remain open until a suitable candidate is identified. Application must include: (i) Cover Letter addressing the Selection Criteria above; (ii) CV including 3 Referees, and (iii) Academic Transcripts

For any initial queries and application process, please contact the Laboratory Head, Professor Vanessa Hayes at

In the media

Selected publications

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  • Tindall, E., Monare, R., Petersen, D., Van Zyl, S., Hardie, R., Segone, A., Venter, P., Rianna Bornman, M., Hayes, V. (2014). Clinical Presentation of Prostate Cancer in Black South Africans. The Prostate, 74(8), 880-891. [More Information]


  • Tindall, E., Monare, R., Petersen, D., Van Zyl, S., Hardie, R., Segone, A., Venter, P., Rianna Bornman, M., Hayes, V. (2014). Clinical Presentation of Prostate Cancer in Black South Africans. The Prostate, 74(8), 880-891. [More Information]

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