Our People

Lachlan Harris

Dr | Team Head

Cancer Neuroscience

+61 7 3845 3630



Dr Lachlan Harris performed his PhD in Associate Professor Michael Piper’s lab at The University of Queensland (2013-2017) on NFI transcription factor regulation of neural stem cells, uncovering how these genes promote nerve cell production.

After completing his PhD, he was driven to move internationally, and obtained a four-year Crick Postdoctoral Training Fellow position, where he studied the regulation of adult neural stem cell quiescence. Here, he discovered that adult brain stem cells deepen their quiescence during aging to preserve lifelong nerve cell production. In the process, he also helped to define the molecular pathways controlling this process.

He came to understand that quiescence was a major disease obstacle in adult brain cancer and that the biological insights from neuroscience research could be used to help patients. To this end, in June 2021 he returned to Australia to QIMR Berghofer to develop strategies to target these cells to improve outcomes for these patients, beginning his own Cancer Neuroscience Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer in January 2023.


2023 – present: Team Head, Cancer Neuroscience, QIMR Berghofer

2021 – present: Honorary appointment, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland 

2022 – present: Adjunct lecturer, School of Biomedical Sciences, Queensland University of Technology 


2021-2022: Research Officer, Sid Faithful Brain Cancer, QIMR Berghofer

2021-2022: Visiting Scientist, The Francis Crick Institute

2021-2022: Crick Postdoctoral Training Fellow, The Francis Crick Institute

2018-2020: Honorary Teaching Appointment, University College London






Dr Harris leads a team focussed on developing novel therapeutics for the adult brain cancer glioblastoma by targeting quiescent, treatment resistant glioma stem cells. Targeting quiescent glioma stem cells presents a novel therapeutic strategy, in a cancer where expected survival has remained almost unchanged over the past 30 years. The team are also interested in deepening their understanding of how quiescence is regulated at a more fundamental level, which has broader significance during brain aging and in cognitive disorders.


  • Discovered that brain stem cell quiescence deepens during aging to protect stem cells and ensure lifelong nerve cell production.
  • Discovered a subpopulation of adult brain stem cells with different cycling characteristics.
  • Demonstrated that NFI transcription factor proteins promote nerve cell production during brain development.


  • Cooperative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology
  • Australasian Neuroscience Society
  • Australian Brain Cancer Research Alliance


2021: Best speaker prize at Oz Single Cell Conference

2021: Best speaker prize at the Australian Brain Cancer Research Alliance conference

2021: Faculty Opinion Recommendation for my Cell Stem Cell paper

2021: Adjoining commentary article on my Cell Stem Cell paper from Juan Encinas (Ikerbasque, Spain)

2020: Australasian Developmental Neuroscience postdoc talk prize

2018: 3R award nomination for innovation in animal welfare

2018: Australian New Zealand Developmental and Stem Cell Biology postdoc talk prize

2018: Basel Stem Cell Network Poster Prize

2017: School of Biomedical Sciences Research Excellence Award

2016: School of Biomedical Sciences Publication Prize

2016: School of Biomedical Sciences Travel Fellowship

2016: Graduate School International Travel Award

2015: International Brain Research Organisation Travel Award

2015: Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory Bursary

2015: School of Biomedical Sciences Travel Award

2013: 2017 Australian Postgraduate Award


2017: PhD awarded (Neuroscience)

2012: BSc Hons (First class)