Julian Heng

Associate Professor

  • The University of Western Australia (M503), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Personal profile


Julian Heng attained his Bachelor's degree with First Class Honours at the University of Western Australia, and then earned his Doctorate from the University of Melbourne while working within the Howard Florey Institute (now the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health).

In 2004, he undertook postdoctoral training at the National Institute for Medical Research (Mill Hill, UK), holding a CJ Martin Fellowship as well as an MRC Career Development Fellowship to extend his period of training.

In 2010, he established his independent research programme at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (Monash University, Melbourne, Australia) and was awarded a Career Development Fellowship (2011-2014, NH&MRC, Australia) to foster his research programme.

In 2014, he relocated his research to the University of Western Australia and joined the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research as a Group Leader to pursue health translational outcomes directly applicable to his gene discovery work.

From 2017 to 2022, Julian worked as a Research Associate Professor with Curtin university (based at the Sarich Neuroscience Institute, Perth, Western Australia) and has not undertaken research-intensive roles since.


Roles and responsibilities

Current role: to support the research success of others in a service capacity. 

Previous roles: I worked as a research-intensive academic for over 17 years and led teams of postdocs, graduate research assistants and honours students at four Australian Universities.

Research publication experience: I have authored 47 research publications that have collectively received more than 1,200 citations (Soucre: Scopus), with nine ranked in the top 10% of most cited documents.  My average CNCI is 1.29, and higher for major subject areas of neurosciences (1.64), cell biology (1.58), and clinical neurology (2.27).  Notably, 67% of my publications have been published in Q1 journals (global baseline is 48%), and my research papers have been cited by 15 patents (data from Scopus, InCites, SJR, Lens).

Research presentation experience: In addition to research publications, I have presented 91 oral presentations (average >11 per year) at conferences, external/internal seminars and learned institutions all over the world, as follows:

International Conference Seminars (2008-2022): 13 

Invited International Departmental Seminars (2008-2022): 19

National Conference Seminars (2008-2022): 30

Invited National Departmental Seminars (2008-2022): 29 

Conference Organisation experience: From 2010-2022, I organised 12 Scientific Symposia for Conferences including ComBio, the Australian Neuroscience Society, the ANZSCDB, and the ISN.

Previous roles in Journals, Societies and Committees/Panels: I was Editorial Board Member of The International Journal of Neurology Research (2014-2020). I also held memberships to the following Societies: ANS (2007-2022); The Biochemistry Society, UK (2007-2008); Member and former State (VIC) Representative of the ANZSCDB (2008-2021); The ISN (2011-2020); The APSN (2014-2016); and the Brain Foundation (2014-2017).

Reviewing duties (journals): I previously served as ad hoc journal reviewer for Nature Neuroscience, Developmental Dynamics, Brain Research, Cell Death & Differentiation, BMC Neuroscience, The Journal of Neuroscience Methods, Stem Cell Research, Human Molecular Genetics, and The International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology. (2008-2022).

Reviewing duties (research grants): I previously served as Grant Reviewer for the NH&MRC (Australia) (2009-2022) as well as Grant Review Panel Member (2013-2014, 2016-2018). I also served as grant reviewer for the Australian Research Council (ARC) (2009-2022) as well as National and International funding agencies. 

Reviewing duties (student thesis examinations): I previously served as a PhD thesis examiner for six universities across Australia and New Zealand, as well as an Honours thesis examiner for five Australian universities.


Funding overview

Fellowship Support

2003: Travel Grant, Australian Neuroscience Society, Australia.

2004: C J Martin Biomedical Research Fellowship.

2007: Travel Grant, Federation of Biochemical Sciences (FEBS), Europe.

2009: Travelling Fellowship, Japan Neuroscience Society, Japan.

2010: “Caitlin’s Fund at the Florey” Philanthropic Trust.

2010-2015: Monash University Research (Logan) Fellowship Laboratory Support, Evaluating the capacity of nerve cell production within fetal and adult brain. Role: PI (sole investigator).

2011-2015: NH&MRC Career Development Award (CDA Level 1), A rheostat for the control of gene expression during nerve cell maturation. Role: PI.

2011: Travelling Fellowship, International Society of Neurochemistry.


Research grants (NHMRC (Australia) and ARC, completed)

2004-2008: NH&MRC (Australia) C J Martin Biomedical Research Fellowship 310616, The role of proneural bHLH transcription factors in the mammalian central nervous system during development and in adulthood. Role: PI.

2009-2011: NH&MRC (Australia) Project Grant 566835, The role of Rnd genes during cortical neurogenesis and cell migration. Role: PI (sole investigator).

2010-2012: NH&MRC (Australia) Project Grant 628517, Mechanisms guiding pathfinding and positioning of cortical interneurons. Role: CIB.

2012-2015: NH&MRC (Australia) Project Grant 1028258, A novel gene implicated in the etiology of abnormal brain development and intellectual disability. Role: PI (Project leader).

2013-2015: Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project DP130103328, Subcellular recruitment of a RhoA ubiquitination complex by Rnd proteins. Role: PI (Project leader).

2014-2016: NH&MRC (Australia) Project Grant APP1057751, The RNA-binding protein ZFP36L1 regulates neural progenitor cell self-renewal during development and disease. Role: CIB.

2017-2019: NH&MRC APP1129679, Understanding the molecular basis of disorders of cortical development to inform diagnosis and management. Role: CIB.

2017-2020: NH&MRC APP1130168, Leveraging genomics strategies to generate adult neurons from iPSCs and somatic cells. Role: CID.


Other research grants (completed)

2015: WA Department of Health Near-Miss award for outstanding NHMRC project grant application in 2014.

2015: Blue Sky Research Grant, Telethon Kid’s Institute (co-investigator).

2015: Ada Bartholomew Medical Research Trust Grant, UWA.

2015: Cockell Research collaboration award, UWA (lead investigator).

2016: Ian Potter Foundation Grant for a Confocal Scanning Laser Microscope (Nikon).

Previous positions

2004-2006: National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia (NH&MRC) C J Martin Biomedical (Overseas) Research Fellow at the National Institute for Medical Research (Mill Hill, UK), in the laboratory of Dr. François Guillemot.
2006-2008: Medical Research Council (UK) Career Development Fellow at the National Institute for Medical Research (Mill Hill, UK), in the laboratory of Dr. François Guillemot.
2008-2010: National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia C J Martin Biomedical (Returning) Research Fellow at the Florey Neuroscience Institutes, in the laboratory of Professor Seong-Seng Tan.
2010-2014: Senior Research (Monash) Fellow and Group Leader, The Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI), Australia.


The goal of my biomedical research career has been to educate our community and the public about the genetic and cell biological basis for human health and disease, and to harness this knowledge to develop new treatments and interventions that improve lifelong health. My work as a research-intensive academic has elucidated the molecular biology of cell-cell interactions, cell migration and cell differentiation during mammalian brain development. In parallel, I have led the discovery of genetic mutations that cause lifelong brain disorders in children. Findings from my research activities have improved our understanding of nervous system development and contributed increased accuracy in clinical genetic testing for human disorders in the community.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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