Professor Brandon Wainwright


Frazer Institute
Faculty of Medicine


Professor Brandon Wainwright AM is Co-Director of the Children’s Brain Cancer Centre and leads a laboratory within the UQ Diamantina Institute focused on understanding the genetic pathways behind medulloblastoma, a type of brain tumour that occurs predominantly in children. He is Chair of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Australia, Chair of the Advisory Board of the Robinson Research Institute and Chair of the Board of the South Australian Immunogenomics Cancer Institute (SAIGENCI), and serves on the boards the Australian Genome Research Facility as well as several national and international scientific review committees, including the MRFF Brain Tumour Roadmap Committee.

Professor Wainwright completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at The University of Adelaide, after which he secured a postdoctoral fellowship with St Mary's Hospital at Imperial College London. During his six years at Imperial he worked on the first human genome project and also became a Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellow. He returned to Australia in 1990 to join UQ's Centre for Molecular and Cellular Biology (now IMB) and led the Institute for Molecular Biology until 2019.

Professor Wainwright is a geneticist, renowned for discovering the genetic pathway that causes most human cancer. He is skilled in molecular genetics, where he is using genetic approaches to dig through DNA and find the genes that cause disease. He commenced using these skills to locate the cystic fibrosis gene, but it was when isolating a gene responsible for a rare form of brain cancer called Medulloblastoma, that he discovered the role of the ‘Hedgehog Pathway' in common human cancer.

Research Interests

  • Cancer and cell signalling
    Skin cancer is a major public health issue in Australia, with the treatment of non-melanoma skin cancer costing our community more than $264 million each year. Moreover, brain tumours remain the most common cause of cancer-related death in children and of these, medulloblastoma is the most commonly diagnosed. Our laboratory has made great progress in understanding the genetic pathways behind the most common form of skin cancer in Australia, Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), and medulloblastoma, a type of brain tumour that occurs predominantly in children. Having mapped and isolated the Naevoid Basel Cell Carcinoma Syndrome (NBCCS) gene called Patched, which is the driver for a medical condition where affected individuals have a predisposition for developing BCC and medulloblastoma, we were able to identify the Patched gene as a controller of a molecular signalling pathway called the Hedgehog pathway. The Hedgehog pathway is a set of genetic mutations that contribute to the development of a wide range of tumour types, including lung, pancreatic and ovarian cancer. By examining this pathway and how it interacts with other genetic pathways, our scientists have gained a better understanding of the normal development of the skin and cerebellum, a part of the brain that controls motor functions. By manipulating the strength of the Hedgehog pathway we believe stem cell populations can be expanded or can be induced to become cancerous. Our lab has identified the core genetic components that lead to the development of medulloblastoma. This work will enable the therapeutic targeting of every medulloblastoma, not just a subset, leading to more powerful clinical trials and ultimately more effective treatment options.


  • Gilbertson, Richard J., Behjati, Sam, Böttcher, Anna-Lisa, Bronner, Marianne E., Burridge, Matthew, Clausing, Henrick, Clifford, Harry, Danaher, Tracey, Donovan, Laura K., Drost, Jarno, Eggermont, Alexander M.M., Emerson, Chris, Flores, Mona G., Hamerlik, Petra, Jabado, Nada, Jones, Andrew, Kaessmann, Henrick, Kleinman, Claudia L., Kool, Marcel, Kutscher, Lena M., Lindberg, Gavin, Linnane, Emily, Marioni, John C., Maris, John M., Monje, Michelle, Macaskill, Alexandra, Niederer, Steven, Northcott, Paul A., Peeters, Elizabeth ... Pfister, Stefan M. (2024). The Virtual Child. Cancer Discovery, 14 (4), 663-668. doi: 10.1158/

  • Endersby, Raelene, Wainwright, Brandon J. and Gottardo, Nicholas G. (2023). Editorial: Bench to bedside: translating pre-clinical research into clinical trials for childhood brain tumors. Frontiers in Oncology, 13 1274465. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2023.1274465

  • Kojic, Marija, Maybury, Mellissa K., Waddell, Nicola, Koufariotis, Lambros T., Addala, Venkateswar, Millar, Amanda, Wood, Scott, Pearson, John V., Hansford, Jordan R., Hassall, Tim and Wainwright, Brandon J. (2023). Efficient detection and monitoring of pediatric brain malignancies with liquid biopsy based on patient-specific somatic mutation screening. Neuro-Oncology, 25 (8), 1507-1517. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/noad032

View all Publications


View all Grants


  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision


Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Vo, Tuan, Balderson, Brad, Jones, Kahli, Crawford, Joanna, Millar, Amanda, Tolson, Elissa, Ruitenberg, Marc, Robertson, Thomas, Bhuva, Dharmesh, Davis, Melissa, Wainwright, Brandon, Nguyen, Quan and Genovesi, Laura (2022). MEDB-06. Spatial transcriptomic analysis of Sonic Hedgehog Medulloblastoma identifies that loss of heterogeneity and induced differentiation underlies the response to CDK4/6 inhibition. International Symposium on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology, Hamburg, Germany, 12–15 June 2022. Cary, NC, United States: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/noac079.381

  • Villani, R., Sim, S. L., Greaney, J., Wainwright, B. and Khosrotehrani, K. (2016). Basal cell carcinoma development is promoted by ablation of the dermal papilla mesenchymal niche. Asia-Pacific Combined Dermatology Research Conference 2016, Noosa, QLD, Australia, 25–28 August 2016. Richmond, VIC, Australia: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia. doi: 10.1111/ajd.12584

  • Ji, Pengxiang, Genovesi, Laura, He, Yaowu, Hooper, John and Wainwright, Brandon (2016). Targeting Apoptosis as a Novel Therapy for Myc-Driven Medulloblastoma. 17th International Symposium on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology (ISPNO), Liverpool England, 12-15 June 2016. United States: Oxford University Press.

  • Villani, R. M., Hodgson, S., Legrand, J., Greaney, J., Wong, H., Pichol-Thievend, C., Adolphe, C., Wainwright, B., Francois, M. and Khosrotehrani, K. (2015). Dominant negative mutation of Sox18 inhibits normal dermal papilla development during embryogenesis and regeneration. 45th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Dermatological Research, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 9-12 September 2015. London, United Kingdom: Nature Publishing Group. doi: 10.1038/jid.2015.272

  • Genovesi, Laura, Ji, Pengxiang, Davis, Melissa, Ching Ging Ng, Remke, Marc, Taylor, Michael, Cho, Yoon-Jae, Jenkins, Nancy, Copeland, Neil and Wainwright, Brandon (2014). Mouse Functional Genomics to Predict Novel Drug Targets for All Subgroups of Medulloblastoma. 16th International Symposium on Pediatric Neuro-Oncology (ISPNO), Singapore, Singapore, 28 June - 02 July 2014. Cary, NC United States: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/nou074

  • Gottardo, Nicholas G., Hansford, Jordan R., McGlade, Jacqueline P., Alvaro, Frank, Ashley, David M., Bailey, Simon, Baker, David L., Bourdeaut, Franck, Cho, Yoon‑Jae, Clay, Moira, Clifford, Steven C., Cohn, Richard J., Cole, Catherine H., Dallas, Peter B., Downie, Peter, Doz, François, Ellison, David W., Endersby, Raelene, Fisher, Paul G., Hassall, Timothy, Heath, John A., Hii, Hilary L., Jones, David T. W., Junckerstorff, Reimar, Kellie, Stewart, Kool, Marcel, Kotecha, Rishi S., Lichter, Peter, Laughton, Stephen J. ... Gajjar, Amar (2013). Medulloblastoma Down Under 2013: a report from the third annual meeting of the International Medulloblastoma Working Group. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer. doi: 10.1007/s00401-013-1213-7

  • Adolphe, C., Villani, R., Niewenhuis, E., Li, S., Kaur, P., Hui, C. and Wainwright, B. (2012). Hedgehog pathway regulation of basal cell carcinoma and epidermal differentiation. Conjoint 3rd Australasian Wound & Tissue Repair Society and 9th Australasian Society for Dermatology Research Conference, Sydney, NSW, Australia, 22-24 May 2012. Hoboken, NJ, United States: Wiley-Blackwell. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-475X.2012.00835.x

  • Metzis, Vicki, Courtney, Andrew, Ferguson, Charles, Cooper, Ashley, Wainwright, Brandon and Wicking, Carol (2011). Patched1 is essential for nasal pit invagination in mouse. Society for Developmental Biology 70th Annual Meeting, Chicago IL, United States, 21-25 July 2011. Maryland Heights MO, United States: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.05.164

  • Haase, E, Hallahan, A and Wainwright, B (2009). The interaction of Sonic Hedgehog and Notch signalling in medulloblastoma. 16th Annual Conference of the International-Society-of-Development-Biologists, Edinburgh Scotland, Sep 06-10, 2009. AMSTERDAM: ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV. doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2009.06.496

  • Smart, C. E., Clarke, C., Brooks, K. M., Raghavendra, A., Brewster, B. L., French, J. D., Hetherington, R., Fleming, J. S., Rothnagel, J. A., Wainwright, B., Lakhani, S. R. and Brown, M. A. (2007). Targeted disruption of Brca1 in restricted compartments of the mouse mammary epithelia. Australian Breast Cancer Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 2007.

  • Brewster, Brooke, Brooke, Kelly, Brown, Melissa Anne, Clarke, C., Fleming, J. S., French, J. D., Hetherington, Rehan, Lakhani, Sunil, Raghavendra, Ashwini, Rothnagel, Joseph, Smart, Chanel and Wainwright, Brandon (2007). Targeted disruption of Brca1 in restricted compartments of the mouse mammary epithelia. kConFab Familial Breast Cancer Conference, Couran Cove, Queensland, 21-24 August 2007.

  • Brewster, Brooke, Brooks, Kelly, Brown, Melissa Anne, Clarke, C., Fleming, J. S., French, J. D., Hetherington, Rehan, Lakhani, Sunil, Raghavendra, Ashwini, Rothnagel, Joseph, Smart, Chanel and Wainwright, Brandon (2007). Targeted disruption of Brca1 in restricted compartments of the mouse mammary epithelia. Gordon Research Conference: Mammary Gland Biology, Newport, RI, 10-15 June 2007.

  • Smid, J. R., Young, W. G., McMorran, B. J. and Wainwright, B. J. (2006). Iron metabolism in G551D cystic fibrosis mouse incisor ameloblasts. IADR ANZ Division 38th Annual Scientific Meeting, Brisbane, Qld, Australia, 28 June - 1 July, 2006. Chicago, Ill. U.S.A: Sage for the American Dental Association.

  • Ellis, T., Bourboulas, M., Bull, N. D., Bartlett, P. F. and Wainwright, B. J. (2005). Patched ablation in neuronal precursors leads to defects in CNS patterning and abnormal regulation of the neuronal stem cell population. 15th International Society of Developmental Biologists Congress, Sydney, NSW, Australia, 3-7 September 2005. Shannon, Co. Clare, Ireland: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2005.06.010

  • Armstrong, D., Byrnes, C., Carlin, J., Cooper, P., Francis, P., Grimwood, K., Jones, A., McMorran, B., Robertson, C., Wainwright, B. and Wainwright, C. (2005). Proteomic investigations in the young CF lung: new insights into the inflammatory disorder. 6th Australian and New Zealand Cystic Fibrosis Conference 2005, Adelaide, South Australia, 20-23 August, 2005.

  • Wicking, C. A., Evans, T., Wainwright, B. and Parton, R. (2001). Insights into the regulation of hedgehog signalling from subcellular localisation studies. -, -, -. Chicago, IL United States: University of Chicago Press.

  • Shaw, JTE, Lovelock, PK, Duffy, D, Cardinal, J, Berkholz, JR, Kesting, JB and Wainwright, B (1998). Novel susceptibility gene for NIDDM is localised to human chromosome 12q. NEW YORK: SPRINGER VERLAG.

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision