Dr Amanda Khoury


Dr Amanda Khoury

Cancer Epigeneticist

Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Every cell in our body contains an exact copy of our DNA, yet somehow this single blueprint gives rise to a myriad of cell-types – how is this possible? The answer lies in origami. We have A LOT of DNA in each cell – about 2 metres(!) – which means it has to be compacted by being tightly folded to fit. As is the case for origami, different combinations of folds give rise to different cell identities so the DNA in heart cells is folded differently to the DNA in brain cells.

I’m interested in working out how DNA folding becomes disrupted in cancer with the aim of hopefully putting everything back in the right place to make these cells healthy again. This mysterious area of research is called Epigenetics.

My science ‘origin story’ is a little unorthodox. I started at the University of Sydney enrolled in an Arts degree with the hopes of becoming a historian, however after doing a psychology elective I realised science was my calling. I transferred into a Bachelor of Medical of Science (Honours), followed by a PhD in Epigenetics and am now working as a Post-doc within the same lab at the Garvan Institute.