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Professor Peter Waterhouse

Professor Peter Waterhouse

Professor Peter Waterhouse is internationally recognised for his groundbreaking research on plant viruses, and he led the way in uncovering the mechanism, roles and applications of post-transcriptional gene silencing in plants, also termed RNA interference (RNAi).

Small RNAs (sRNA) play a number of key roles in the development of plants and animals, such as providing protection against viruses, regulating and protecting chromosomes, perceiving the environment, and regulating developmental transitions.

Professor Waterhouse is studying the currently obscure sRNA pathways that play fundamental roles critical to the development and health of plants. Many of the pathways have essential counterparts in animals and may have implications for medical research.

His research program aims to deliver technologies for silencing signals to plants to improve agronomic traits; inserting synthetic microRNAs into plants to alter plant architecture; and altering DNA structure to affect long-term agronomic traits.

Dr Waterhouse completed his PhD in plant virology at the University of Dundee and the Scottish Crop Research Institute. He has received several awards, including the International Multimedia Telecommunications Consortium Thomson ISI Award as the CSIRO researcher with the most highly cited papers between 1998 and 2003, the Victor Chang Medal (2002) and the CSIRO Chairman's Medal for his work in the gene silencing/RNAi field (2005).

In 2003, Dr Waterhouse was named in The Bulletin's 'Top Ten Smartest Scientists in Australia'. He was the CSIRO Representative on the Prime Minister's Science and Engineering Council - Gene Technology Working Group. He has numerous patents covering the applications of his discoveries.

In 2007 he won the prestigious Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, and in 2009, he was elected as a fellow to the Australian Academy of Science.