Professor Geoffrey Faulkner


Principal Research Fellow


About me

Professor Geoff Faulkner is a Professorial Research Fellow and head of the Genome Plasticity and Disease group. His core research seeks to understand the role of retrotransposons, a type of “mobile DNA”, in causing genetic mosaicism in neurons. This variation may be a fundamental aspect of healthy brain function, and appears to change in neurological diseases, including Rett syndrome and schizophrenia. 

Dr Faulkner began his research career in 2002 as an undergraduate working in Prof. David Hume’s lab at the University of Queensland (UQ). He went on to first complete a BSc with first class honours (2004) and then a computational biology PhD (2009) working with Prof. Sean Grimmond at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, UQ. He was then awarded an NHMRC C.J. Martin Overseas Biomedical Training Fellowship and with this funding established an independent laboratory at the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh. He relocated to Australia in 2012, was awarded an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship in 2013 and an NHMRC Research Fellowship (SRFB) in 2016.Over the course of his career, Dr Faulkner has published 45 peer-reviewed articles (8000 citations, h-index 29), the majority in top-tier journals, and received grant funding totalling $28M. He published a landmark work in Nature describing somatic retrotransposition in the human brain that was selected by the US National Institute of Mental Health as the “joint No. 1 research advance of 2011” and has more recently followed this work with two additional breakthrough articles in Cell. He is the recipient of the ASMR Queensland Premier’s Award (2009), the FEBS Anniversary Prize (2011), the Lorne Genome Millennium Science Award (2014), the Centenary Institute Lawrence Creative Prize (2014) and the Australian Academy of Science Ruth Stephens Gani Medal (2016).For information regarding student projects (Honours/Masters/PhD) please contact [email protected]

Contact details

Phone: +61 7 3443 7587

Email: [email protected]


Key publicationsKlawitter, S., Fuchs, N.V., Upton, K.R., Muñoz-Lopez, M., Shukla, R., Wang, J., Garcia-Canadas, M., Lopez-Ruiz, C., Gerhardt, D.J., Sebe, A., Grabundzija, I., Merkert, S., Gerdes, P., Pulgarin, J.A., Bock, A., Held, U., Witthuhn, A., Haase, A., Sarkadi, B., Löwer, J., Wolvetang, E.J., Martin, U., Ivics, Z., Izsvák, Z., Garcia-Perez, J.L*, Faulkner, G.J.* and Schumann, G.G.*, Reprogramming triggers endogenous L1 and Alu retrotransposition in human induced pluripotent stem cells. Nature Communications 7 (2016).


Upton, K.R., Gerhardt, D.J., Jesuadian, J.S., Richardson, S.R., Sanchez-Luque, F.J., Bodea, G.O., Salvador-Palomeque, C., van der Knaap, M.S., Brennan, P.M., Vanderver, A., Faulkner, G.J., Ubiquitous L1 mosaicism in hippocampal neurons. Cell 161, 228-239 (2015).


Richardson, S.R., Morell, S., Faulkner, G.J., L1 retrotransposons and somatic mosaicism in the brain. Annual Review of Genetics 48, 1-27 (2014).

Shukla, R., Upton, K.R., Muñoz-Lopez, M., Gerhardt, D.J., Fisher, M.E., Nguyen, T., Brennan P.M., Baillie, J.K., Collino, A., Ghisletti, S., Sinha, S., Iannelli, F., Radaelli, E., Dos Santos, A., Rapoud, D., Guettier, C., Samuel, D., Natoli, G., Carninci, P., Ciccarelli, F.D., Garcia-Perez, J.L., Faivre, J., Faulkner, G.J. Endogenous retrotransposition activates oncogenic pathways in hepatocellular carcinoma. Cell 153, 101-111 (2013)

Baillie, J.K., Barnett, M.W., Upton, K.R., Gerhardt, D.J., Richmond, T., de Sapio, F., Brennan, P., Rizzu, P., Smith, S., Fell, M., Talbot, R.T., Gustincich, S., Freeman, T.C., Mattick., J.S., Hume, D.A., Heutink, P., Carninci, P., Jeddeloh, J.A., Faulkner, G.J. Somatic retrotransposition alters the genetic landscape of the human brain. Nature 479, 534-537 (2011)

Faulkner, G.J., Kimura, Y., Daub, C.O., Wani, S., Plessy, C., Irvine, K.M., Schroder, K., Cloonan, N., Steptoe, A.L., Lassmann, T., Waki, K., Hornig, N., Arakawa, T., Takahashi, H., Kawai, J., Forrest, A.R.R., Suzuki, H., Hayashizaki, Y., Hume, D.A., Orlando, V., Grimmond, S.M., Carninci, P. The regulated retrotransposon transcriptome of mammalian cells. Nature Genetics 41, 563-71 (2009) 

Research fields

Genome Plasticity and Disease Group