Ms Laura Leighton

Postdoctoral Research Fellow - mRNA

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
+61 7 334 66384


Dr Laura Leighton is an RNA biologist with extensive experience in functional characterisation of RNA. Laura is leading the development of next-generation mRNA therapeutics for the treatment of liver cancer. Because mRNA encapsulated within lipid nanoparticles is effectively delivered inside cells, this technology is uniquely suited to targeting the two-thirds of proteins which are only found inside cells, including several notorious drivers of cancer. Laura's research will create drug candidates which are able to inhibit intracellular pro-cancer proteins for the first time. In addition to drug development, Laura is working on mRNA drug delivery in mouse models of liver disease and cancer.

​Laura completed her PhD at the Queensland Brain Institute, working on uncovering the role of small noncoding RNAs in fear-related learning and memory in mice, supported by the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship (2017). She joined the laboratory of Dr Seth Cheetham at AIBN as a postdoctoral researcher in March 2023.


  • Doctor of Philosophy of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor (Honours) of Science (Advanced), The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science, The University of Queensland


  • Marshall, Paul R., Davies, Joshua, Zhao, Qiongyi, Liau, Wei-Siang, Lee, Yujin, Basic, Dean, Periyakaruppiah, Ambika, Zajaczkowski, Esmi L., Leighton, Laura J., Madugalle, Sachithrani U., Musgrove, Mason, Kielar, Marcin, Brueckner, Arie Maeve, Gong, Hao, Ren, Haobin, Walsh, Alexander, Kaczmarczyk, Lech, Jackson, Walker S., Chen, Alon, Spitale, Robert C. and Bredy, Timothy W. (2024). DNA G-quadruplex is a transcriptional control device that regulates memory. The Journal of Neuroscience, e0093232024. doi: 10.1523/jneurosci.0093-23.2024

  • Hoffmann, L. B., Li, B., Wei, W., Zhao, Q., Leighton, L. J., Bredy, T. W., Pang, T. Y. and Hannan, A. J. (2023). Chronically high stress hormone levels dysregulate sperm long noncoding RNAs and their embryonic microinjection alters development and affective behaviours. Molecular Psychiatry, 1-12. doi: 10.1038/s41380-023-02350-2

  • Liau, Wei-Siang, Zhao, Qiongyi, Bademosi, Adekunle, Gormal, Rachel S., Gong, Hao, Marshall, Paul R., Periyakaruppiah, Ambika, Madugalle, Sachithrani U., Zajaczkowski, Esmi L., Leighton, Laura J., Ren, Haobin, Musgrove, Mason, Davies, Joshua, Rauch, Simone, He, Chuan, Dickinson, Bryan C., Li, Xiang, Wei, Wei, Meunier, Frédéric A., Fernández-Moya, Sandra M., Kiebler, Michael A., Srinivasan, Balakumar, Banerjee, Sourav, Clark, Michael, Spitale, Robert C. and Bredy, Timothy W. (2023). Fear extinction is regulated by the activity of long noncoding RNAs at the synapse. Nature Communications, 14 (1) 7616, 1-16. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-43535-1

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