Professor John Silke is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow. He first completed a law degree in King's College, London, before seeing the error of his ways and obtaining a second degree in Biochemistry at Churchill College, Cambridge (1992). He completed a PhD in Zürich, Switzerland, with Prof. Walter Schaffner, looking at the role of DNA methylation in the regulation of transcription (1997). A Swiss fellowship allowed John to post-doc with Prof. David Vaux in the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Australia (1997-2005), where he focused on cell death mechanisms and in particular the role of Inhibitor of APoptosis proteins (IAPs) in regulating cell death. After a five-year stint running a lab in La Trobe University, Australia, he returned to the WEHI (2011). He has a strong interest in translational research and was a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of TetraLogic Pharmaceuticals Corporation for 5 years. In this capacity he has contributed to our understanding of how IAP antagonist drugs, now called Smac-mimetics, kill cancer cells and the development of a well tolerated Smac-mimetic, called birinapant. Smac-mimetics such as birinapant work to kill cancer cells by inducing inflammatory cytokines such as TNF and simultaneously sensitising cells to cell death induced by these cytokines. They are widely used together with TNF to induce necroptosis and John's lab has a keen interest in exploring the mechanisms and consequences of this newly recognised type of cell death.
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Tel: 61 3-9345-2945