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; thus, it exists as a 3D structure. 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.

Damage to the 3D structure of DNA can cause cells to become cancerous. As a scientist, I have a strong passion for addressing two crucial questions: 1. What causes DNA damage? and 2. Where does the structure become compromised? My goal is to find ways to prevent DNA damage and work towards the development of therapies that repair the broken 3D structures of DNA within cells.

This research is a new approach in the search for a cure for cancer and an interesting answer to the unexpected question: ‘What do DNA and origami have in common?’

Dr Amanda Khoury is a Superstar of STEM.