Dr Joanna Achinger-Kawecka

Dr Joanna Achinger-Kawecka

Conjoint Lecturer

PhD in Pharmacogenomics 2014 (University of Tuebingen, Germany)

Masters of Biotechnology 2011 (Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Poland)

Bachelor of Science 2009 (Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Poland)

Medicine & Health
School of Clinical Medicine

Dr Joanna Achinger-Kawecka is a Group Leader of the 3D Epigenome in Cancer group at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Conjoint Lecturer at St Vincent's Clinical School, UNSW Sydney. Joanna completed her PhD in 2014 at the University of Tuebingen, Germany supported by prestigious Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship, studying epigenetic biomarkers in breast cancer.

Following her PhD, Joanna joined the Epigenetics Research laboratory of Prof Susan Clark at the Garvan Institute, where she established cutting-edge experimental and computational approaches to study the 3D genome organization. Dr Achinger-Kawecka has made significant contributions to the field, publishing in high-impact journals such as Nature Communications, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology and Genome Research. She has been awarded competitive research funding from NHMRC, CCNSW and NBCF and established her own research group at the Garvan Institute in 2023.

The main goal of the group’s research is to understand the role of 3D genome architecture in cancer, including its cell-to-cell and temporal variability. For that, they combine and integrate cutting-edge genomics technology, single-cell epigenome profiling, genome editing and pre-clinical models to study the interplay of the 3D genome and epigenome in cancer and how these 3D epigenome changes can be targeted with epigenetic therapy. Beyond fundamental discoveries, their main goal is to uncover new therapeutic targets and biomarkers for the treatment of metastatic disease.

Garvan Institute of Medical Research
  • Journal articles | 2024
    Achinger-Kawecka J; Stirzaker C; Portman N; Campbell E; Chia KM; Du Q; Laven-Law G; Nair SS; Yong A; Wilkinson A; Clifton S; Milioli HH; Alexandrou S; Caldon CE; Song J; Khoury A; Meyer B; Chen W; Pidsley R; Qu W; Gee JMW; Schmitt A; Wong ES; Hickey TE; Lim E; Clark SJ, 2024, 'The potential of epigenetic therapy to target the 3D epigenome in endocrine-resistant breast cancer', Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41594-023-01181-7
    Journal articles | 2023
    Achinger-Kawecka J; Correa S; Hu J; Li G; Lindeboom RGH; Misale S; Monkkonen T; Nirmal AJ; Prekovic S; Sinha S; Trigos AS; Watson CJ, 2023, 'The 2023 generation', Nature Cancer, 4, pp. 1630 - 1635, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s43018-023-00681-1
    Journal articles | 2023
    Hastings JF; Latham SL; Kamili A; Wheatley MS; Han JZR; Wong-Erasmus M; Phimmachanh M; Nobis M; Pantarelli C; Cadell AL; O’Donnell YEI; Leong KH; Lynn S; Geng FS; Cui L; Yan S; Achinger-Kawecka J; Stirzaker C; Norris MD; Haber M; Trahair TN; Speleman F; De Preter K; Cowley MJ; Bogdanovic O; Timpson P; Cox TR; Kolch W; Fletcher JI; Fey D; Croucher DR, 2023, 'Memory of stochastic single-cell apoptotic signaling promotes chemoresistance in neuroblastoma', Science Advances, 9, http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abp8314
    Journal articles | 2022
    Brown LJ; Achinger-Kawecka J; Portman N; Clark S; Stirzaker C; Lim E, 2022, 'Epigenetic Therapies and Biomarkers in Breast Cancer', Cancers, 14, http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers14030474
    Journal articles | 2021
    Achinger-Kawecka J; Stirzaker C; Portman N; Campbell E; Chia K-M; Du Q; Laven-Law G; Nair S; Yong A; Wilkinson A; Clifton S; Milioli H; Alexandrou S; Caldon E; Song J; Khoury A; Meyer B; Gee JMW; Schmitt A; Wong E; Hickey T; Lim E; Clark S, 2021, 'Epigenetic therapy targets the 3D epigenome in endocrine-resistant breast cancer', , http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.21.449340
    Journal articles | 2021
    Du Q; Smith GC; Luu PL; Ferguson JM; Armstrong NJ; Caldon CE; Campbell EM; Nair SS; Zotenko E; Gould CM; Buckley M; Chia KM; Portman N; Lim E; Kaczorowski D; Chan CL; Barton K; Deveson IW; Smith MA; Powell JE; Skvortsova K; Stirzaker C; Achinger-Kawecka J; Clark SJ, 2021, 'DNA methylation is required to maintain both DNA replication timing precision and 3D genome organization integrity', Cell Reports, 36, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109722
    Journal articles | 2021
    Giles KA; Gould CM; Achinger-Kawecka J; Page SG; Kafer GR; Rogers S; Luu PL; Cesare AJ; Clark SJ; Taberlay PC, 2021, 'BRG1 knockdown inhibits proliferation through multiple cellular pathways in prostate cancer', Clinical Epigenetics, 13, http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-021-01023-7
    Journal articles | 2020
    Achinger-Kawecka J; Valdes-Mora F; Luu PL; Giles KA; Caldon CE; Qu W; Nair S; Soto S; Locke WJ; Yeo-Teh NS; Gould CM; Du Q; Smith GC; Ramos IR; Fernandez KF; Hoon DS; Gee JMW; Stirzaker C; Clark SJ, 2020, 'Epigenetic reprogramming at estrogen-receptor binding sites alters 3D chromatin landscape in endocrine-resistant breast cancer', Nature Communications, 11, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-14098-x
    Journal articles | 2020
    Du Q; Smith G; Luu PL; Ferguson J; Armstrong N; Caldon E; Campbell E; Nair S; Zotenko E; Gould C; Buckley M; Kaczorowski D; Barton K; Deveson I; Smith M; Powell J; Skvortsova K; Stirzaker C; Achinger-Kawecka J; Clark S, 2020, 'DNA methylation is required to maintain DNA replication timing precision and 3D genome integrity', , http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.10.15.338855
    Journal articles | 2020
    Giles KA; Gould CM; Achinger-Kawecka J; Page SG; Kafer G; Luu P-L; Cesare AJ; Clark SJ; Taberlay PC, 2020, 'BRG1 promotes transcriptional patterns that are permissive to proliferation in cancer cells', , http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.07.03.187385
    Journal articles | 2020
    Khoury A; Achinger-Kawecka J; Bert SA; Smith GC; French HJ; Luu PL; Peters TJ; Du Q; Parry AJ; Valdes-Mora F; Taberlay PC; Stirzaker C; Statham AL; Clark SJ, 2020, 'Constitutively bound CTCF sites maintain 3D chromatin architecture and long-range epigenetically regulated domains', Nature Communications, 11, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-13753-7
    Journal articles | 2019
    Giles KA; Gould CM; Du Q; Skvortsova K; Song JZ; Maddugoda MP; Achinger-Kawecka J; Stirzaker C; Clark SJ; Taberlay PC, 2019, 'Integrated epigenomic analysis stratifies chromatin remodellers into distinct functional groups', Epigenetics and Chromatin, 12, http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13072-019-0258-9
    Journal articles | 2018
    Fuksiewicz M; Kotowicz B; Rutkowski A; Achinger-Kawecka J; Wagrodzki M; Kowalska MM, 2018, 'The assessment of clinical usage and prognostic value of YKL-40 serum levels in patients with rectal cancer without distant metastasis', Technology in Cancer Research and Treatment, 17, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1533033818765209
    Journal articles | 2017
    Achinger-Kawecka J; Clark SJ, 2017, 'Disruption of the 3D cancer genome blueprint', Epigenomics, 9, pp. 47 - 55, http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/epi-2016-0111
    Journal articles | 2016
    Achinger-Kawecka J; Taberlay PC; Clark SJ, 2016, 'Alterations in three-dimensional organization of the cancer genome and epigenome', Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, 81, pp. 41 - 51, http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/sqb.2016.81.031013
    Journal articles | 2016
    Taberlay PC; Achinger-Kawecka J; Lun ATL; Buske FA; Sabir KS; Gould CM; Zotenko E; Bert SA; Giles KA; Bauer D; Smyth GK; Stirzaker C; O Donoghue SI; Clark SJ, 2016, 'Three-dimensional disorganisation of the cancer genome occurs coincident with long range genetic and epigenetic alterations', Genome Research, 26, pp. 719 - 731
    Journal articles | 2013
    Hoppe R; Achinger-Kawecka J; Winter S; Fritz P; Lo WY; Schroth W; Brauch H, 2013, 'Increased expression of miR-126 and miR-10a predict prolonged relapse-free time of primary oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer following tamoxifen treatment', European Journal of Cancer, 49, pp. 3598 - 3608, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2013.07.145
  • Conference Abstracts | 2019
    Stirzaker C; Chia KM; Portman N; Milioli HH; Clifton S; Achinger-Kawecka J; Nair S; Lim E; Clark S, 2019, 'DNA demethylation agents as a therapeutic approach in endocrine-resistant breast cancer', in Oncolabs, presented at 7th PacRim Breast & Prostate Cancer Meeting, http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/oncolabs.1.P049
    Conference Papers | 2013
    Hoppe R; Achinger-Kawecka J; Winter S; Fritz P; Lo W-Y; Schroth W; Brauch H, 2013, 'Abstract 1938: Increased miR-126 and miR-375 expression in primary ER-positive breast cancer predict longer relapse-free time following treatment with tamoxifen.', in Cancer Research, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), pp. 1938 - 1938, http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1538-7445.am2013-1938


Title of Project Role in Project Funding Organisation Start Date Duration Total Grant Amount

Assessing the role of the tumour ecosystem in epigenetic therapy response in ER+ endocrine-resistant breast cancer


CIA NHMRC Ideas 2024 3 years $1,090,079

Targeting epigenetic hallmarks in neuroendocrine-like prostate cancer


PI Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia 2023 2 years $100,000

Targeting enhancers to overcome breast cancer resistance to CDK4/6 inhibition


PI UNSW Cancer Research EMCR Seed Grant 2023 1 year $50,000



PI National Breast Cancer Foundation Investigator Grant (IIRS) 2021 3 years $366,000

Targeting the Three-Dimensional Epigenome in Endocrine Resistant Breast Cancer


CIA Cancer Council NSW Project Grant 2020 3 years $434,000

Decoding 3D genome architecture in individual single-cells to establish molecular mechanisms of gene regulation in cancer


PI UNSW Cellular Genomics Futures Institute Seed Grant 2020 1 year $99,000

Single-Cell Hi-C: A Novel Tool to Identify Key Epigenetic Drivers of Endocrine Resistant Breast Cancer


PI Estee Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Campaign 2019 1 year


Genetic perturbations to the 3D genome architecture: Implications for endocrine resistance in breast cancer (Clark S, Achinger-Kawecka J)

Co-I National Breast Cancer Foundation 2017 1 year




































2019 - Best Selected Speaker Prize, 2019 Post-Doc Symposium, Garvan Institute

2018 - CASS Foundation Travel Grant

2017 - The Ian Potter Foundation Travel Grant

2016 - Best Postdoc Prize, 24th St Vincent’s Campus Research Symposium

2016 - Heliflite Young Explorer Award

2015 - Best Oral Presentation Prize, 23rd St Vincent’s Campus Research Symposium

2011 – EU FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network “Fighting Drug Failure” Fellowship