Associate Professor Sean Millard

Associate Professor

School of Biomedical Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
+61 7 336 52991


I received a BA in Biology from Columbia University in New York City. After taking two years off to work as a research assistant, I began graduate school at Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, also in New York. My graduate advisor was Andrew Koff at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute. I studied the cdk inhibitor, p27, and discovered that it is regulated at the level of translation as cells exit the cell cycle. I received my PhD in Molecular Biology in 2001. My postdoctoral work was carried out in Larry Zipursky's lab at UCLA. Here, I learned both Drosophila genetics and neurobiology and began working on the Dscam-family of cell recognition molecules. I identified Dscam2 as the first tiling receptor and discovered that Dscam2 and Dscam1 are redundantly required for photoreceptor synaptic specificity. I moved to Brisbane and began as a lecturer at the UQ School of Biomedical Sciences, in December 2009. I am also an affiliate of the Queensland Brain Institute.

Research Interests

  • Molecular mechanisms for wiring the brain
    The overall goal of the Millard lab is to understand how specificity is generated in the brain. This problem is best exemplified by considering that 100 trillion synapses are generated and maintained in the human brain using a toolkit of only 20,000 genes. We have been approaching this problem using molecular genetics in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Most projects in the lab revolve around how a broadly expressed cell surface protein, called Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule 2 (Dscam2), is able to perform specific functions in different neurons. We are also interested in mechanisms of neurological disease, particularly those that involve changes in synaptic function.


  • Doctoral Diploma, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences


  • Nguyen-Dien, Giang Thanh, Townsend, Brendan, Kulkarni, Prajakta Gosavi, Kozul, Keri-Lyn, Ooi, Soo Siang, Eldershaw, Denaye N, Weeratunga, Saroja, Liu, Meihan, Jones, Mathew JK, Millard, S Sean, Ng, Dominic CH, Pagano, Michele, Bonfim-Melo, Alexis, Schneider, Tobias, Komander, David, Lazarou, Michael, Collins, Brett M and Pagan, Julia K (2024). PPTC7 antagonizes mitophagy by promoting BNIP3 and NIX degradation via SCFFBXL4. EMBO Reports. doi: 10.1038/s44319-024-00181-y

  • Dark, Callum, Ali, Nashia, Golenkina, Sofya, Dhyani, Vaibhav, Blazev, Ronnie, Parker, Benjamin L, Murphy, Kate T, Lynch, Gordon S, Senapati, Tarosi, Millard, S Sean, Judge, Sarah M, Judge, Andrew R, Giri, Lopamudra, Russell, Sarah M and Cheng, Louise Y (2024). Mitochondrial fusion and altered beta-oxidation drive muscle wasting in a Drosophila cachexia model. EMBO Reports, 25 (4), 1-24. doi: 10.1038/s44319-024-00102-z

  • Nguyen‐Dien, Giang Thanh, Kozul, Keri‐Lyn, Cui, Yi, Townsend, Brendan, Kulkarni, Prajakta Gosavi, Ooi, Soo Siang, Marzio, Antonio, Carrodus, Nissa, Zuryn, Steven, Pagano, Michele, Parton, Robert G, Lazarou, Michael, Millard, S Sean, Taylor, Robert W, Collins, Brett M, Jones, Mathew JK and Pagan, Julia K (2023). FBXL4 suppresses mitophagy by restricting the accumulation of NIX and BNIP3 mitophagy receptors. The EMBO Journal, 42 (13) e112767, e112767. doi: 10.15252/embj.2022112767

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Journal Article

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision