Jane Visvader is a molecular and cellular biologist who leads research on mammary stem cell biology and mechanisms resulting in breast cancer. She received her PhD from the University of Adelaide and undertook postdoctoral studies at the Salk Institute and Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, followed by a Research Associate/Instructor appointment at the Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. In 1998, she relocated to WEHI, making a transition to breast cancer. Visvader is Joint Head of the Division of Cancer Biology and Stem Cells (with collaborator Geoff Lindeman) and holds a Professorial appointment at the University of Melbourne. She has received scientific awards including the Royal Society of Victoria Medal for Scientific Excellence (2014), Lemberg Medal (2016), NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Biomedical Award (2016), Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation (2017, joint award), and the Brinker Award for Scientific Excellence (2019, joint award). She was elected to the Australian Academy of Sciences in 2012.
Her notable contributions to the field include identification of the stem cell that generates the entire breast. Her team has defined the cellular hierarchy within the breast, identified master regulators that orchestrate its differentiation program, and discovered that certain types of breast cancer originate from specific progenitor cells, raising the prospect that they could be targeted for the prevention of breast cancer.
Division Head, Cancer Biology and Stem Cells, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) Division Head, Cancer Biology and Stem, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI)
Interest and expertise
Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
Cell biology (incl molecular cell biology)
Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology