Advisory Board

Dr. Andrew J. Pask

The PhysOrg article World first discovery — genes from extinct Tasmanian tiger function in a mouse said

Researchers from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and the University of Texas, USA, have extracted genes from the extinct Tasmanian tiger (thylacine), inserted it into a mouse and observed a biological function — this is a world first for the use of the DNA of an extinct species to induce a functional response in another living organism.
“This is the first time that DNA from an extinct species has been used to induce a functional response in another living organism,”said Dr Andrew Pask, RD Wright Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Zoology who led the research.
“As more and more species of animals become extinct, we are continuing to lose critical knowledge of gene function and their potential.”
“Up until now we have only been able to examine gene sequences from extinct animals. This research was developed to go one step further to examine extinct gene function in a whole organism,” he said.

Andrew J. Pask, Ph.D. is CJ Martin Research Fellow, Reproductive Biology, Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne.
His research interests center on reproductive biology. He currently uses a combination of mouse and marsupial genetics to gain a greater understanding of the process of sex determination and differentiation. Using mice and marsupial induced sex reversal models and CHIP and cDNA subtractive hybridization methods, he hopes to isolate novel genes essential for Ovarian differentiation.
Andrew completed his undergraduate degree in Biological Science at LaTrobe University. He then undertook an Honors year under the supervision of Professor Jenny Graves studying the evolution of the Dax-1 Gene in marsupials. This study sparked his interest in sex determination and the use of alternative model species to gain to gain a full understanding of developmental processes.
He followed his honors with a PhD in Professor Jenny Graves’ lab, examining the evolution of genes in the mammalian sex determination pathway. This study involved cloning orthologues of human and mouse genes known to have a role in testis and ovary development from the wallaby. Examining the conservation of the gene and their location within the genome (Mapping) and finally examining their expression in developing gonads. This evolutionary approach to sex determination allowed him to dissect the conserved and fundamental genes for mammalian gonad differentiation from those with minor roles specialized to one particular lineage.
Andrew coauthored Genomic imprinting of IGF2, p57KIP2 and PEG1/MEST in a marsupial, the tammar wallaby, Absence of SOX3 in the developing marsupial gonad is not consistent with a conserved role in mammalian sex determination, A Novel Mouse Model of Hypogonadotrophic Hypogonadism: N-Ethyl-N-Nitrosourea -Induced Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Receptor Gene Mutation, Retrotransposon Silencing by DNA Methylation Can Drive Mammalian Genomic Imprinting, Comparative analysis of ATRX, a chromatin remodeling protein, Recent Assembly of an Imprinted Domain from Non-Imprinted Components, and Molecular characterization and evolution of X and Y-borne ATRX homologues in American marsupials. Read the full list of his publications!