Grant Montgomery, Australia
De Watteville Lecture
Grant Montgomery is Professorial Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Biology at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. He is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and Fellow of the Society for Reproduction. He is a Highly-Cited Researcher in Molecular Biology and Genetics with an outstanding track record in reproductive biology and genetic epidemiology.
Grant was born in New Zealand and completed his PhD in endocrinology at Massey University in Palmerston North. In 1977, he was appointed as a Scientist in the Research Division of the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture. He traveled to France in 1982 for two years as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow studying control of seasonal breeding at the Institut National de la Researches Agronomique in Tours. Following his return to New Zealand, he cofounded the New Zealand Sheep Genomics Program in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Otago in 1987. The program pioneered the introduction of genome mapping methods in farm animals and discovered mutations in two genes increasing twinning frequency in sheep.
Grant moved to Australia in 1999 to join a program on gene discovery for human complex traits and diseases. He led local projects and contributed to international genetics consortia for gene discovery for a range of conditions, including endometriosis, twinning, melanoma, migraine, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, reproductive lifespan, and fibroids. His studies included genetic analysis of rare cases of twinning contributing to the first report of dizygotic (DZ) twins with a monochorionic (MC) placenta breaking a fundamental rule of twin pregnancies. He identified rare variants in women with a history of twins and contributed to the first genome-wide association study identifying common variants associated with increased dizygotic twinning.
Grant is a world leader in genetic and genomic studies in endometriosis. He was a senior author on the first genome-wide association study for endometriosis in European women. He led the recent large international genetics study including data for 17,000 endometriosis cases. The study identified five new associations bringing the number of genomic regions with strong evidence for association with endometriosis to fourteen. In 2016, Grant moved to the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at The University of Queensland to continue his research on endometriosis conducting follow up functional studies to understand how genetic factors increase endometriosis risk. His group published evidence for genetic control of gene expression in endometrium with colleagues from Melbourne. The work has identified likely target genes for at least two genomic regions on chromosome 1 and chromosome 12. He is the Director of a new Genome Innovation Hub at The University of Queensland, Patron of Endometriosis Association (QLD) Inc. (QENDO) and Research Advisor to the Australian Coalition on Endometriosis (ACE).
De Watteville Lecture
Fertility and reproductive lifespan are important for women and their families, and policies on population, health, and education. Fertility declines before general signs of menopause and is adversely affected by common reproductive diseases including endometriosis, fibroids and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). In the last 10 years, DNA sequencing and large genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have made substantial progress towards understanding variation in fertility and common diseases affecting female fertility. These findings, together with other functional studies, reveal diverse mechanisms influencing fertility traits and shared biological pathways linking fertility, puberty timing, reproductive ageing and health outcomes including type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Positional cloning and GWAS helped to identify mechanisms regulating follicle development, ovulation rate and twinning. Many variants associated with the age at menopause are located close to DNA damage/repair genes with implications for follicle health and ageing. GWAS have identified multiple genomic regions associated with endometriosis, fibroids and PCOS and the analysis of genetic effects on gene regulation and functional studies are beginning to identify the specific genes and pathways providing new insights into common diseases affecting fertility. In addition, increasingly powerful studies of the common genetic risk factors for reproductive traits and diseases help us to interpret the underlying relationships and direction of causation in the regulation of fertility, reproductive lifespan and related conditions.