LIMS Director Patrick Humbert

While most academic staff were making the most of an extended end of year break, soaking up the sunshine of a particularly pleasant summer, Professor Patrick Humbert stepped into the role of LIMS Director in January 2022.

Now that we are in the clutches of winter’s chill it is time to check in with Professor Humbert and talk about his first six months as LIMS Director.

What do you like most about your role as LIMS Director?

With the disestablishment of the School of Molecular Sciences in 2021, LIMS now has the opportunity to stand on its own. I am really excited about what’s coming – new collaborations, cross-discipline teams, new partnerships, and of course, continuing our outstanding translational research. It is a new phase for LIMS. It’s time to dream big and make a huge impact!

You run the Humbert Lab at LIMS. Will you continue your research?

I am extremely passionate about our current research into the evolutionary basis of cancer as well as our research carried out in space to understand how gravity shaped the first tissues and impacts on regeneration. As we reach for the stars, research in microgravity conditions will be one of the biggest growth areas in science over the next ten to twenty years.

Becoming LIMS Director means I will have less time to dedicate to research but I am certainly not stepping away from it. I still have HDR students in my lab and will continue to work very closely with fellow LIMS cancer researcher Professor Marc Kvansakul and his team, as well as all our local and international collaborators.

You are also La Trobe University’s Theme Lead for ‘Understanding and Preventing Disease’. Does this impact LIMS?

The focus of LIMS is to make translatable molecular discoveries. This fits neatly into La Trobe’s theme of ‘Understanding and Preventing Disease’. The work I do with the wider University and the work at LIMS benefit one another. It also gives me greater scope to align multi-disciplinary teams, which will lead to high impact outcomes for LIMS and the wider University.

What is your most memorable moment at LIMS?

I still remember my first day at LIMS in 2016. Walking onto the Bundoora campus, across the grass to the LIMS building, the spectacular aspect of that building guided my way in like a beacon. It is still a very impressive building, inside and out, and I remain as excited as the first day I walked onto campus.

I soon learnt LIMS is more than the sum of its parts. LIMS is a community, with fantastic open and friendly collaborations across disciplines and between labs. There’s a lot of sharing of knowledge and resources. This collegiality and cross discipline cooperation are reasons why working at LIMS is so unique and special. I feel like I am working with a large successful family-run business rather than a slick corporate giant.

If LIMS was a person, how would you describe them?

  • Warm
  • Innovative
  • Pioneering
  • Thoughtful
  • Collaborative
  • Communicative

What are your priorities for LIMS?

LIMS has the capability to be Australia’s leading place for cross-disciplinary fundamental research. Through the development of partnerships – clinical and industry – we can make significant contributions to solving some of the nation’s key issues around health, agriculture and the environment.

LIMS ECRs photo

Supporting tomorrow’s superstars – both ECRs and HDRs – through mentorship and exposure to top quality research is a passion of mine. I see LIMS as a launching pad for careers. LIMS is a place where everyone, regardless of their background and personal circumstance, has an opportunity to excel. Diversity brings alternative viewpoints and that’s important.

What do you do to unwind?

I am not sure many people are aware of this… but I’m quite into electronic music – and always have been. I love to listen to it, dance to it, play with it. More recently I have been enjoying creating original tracks. Whether it’s to accompany an experimental dance theatre performance or just for myself, I find it invigorating – it’s a great break from the demands of academia.

I swim to keep fit and healthy but it’s more a love/hate relationship. I love being in the water, especially if I’m equipped with a snorkel or dive tank but swimming laps in a pool becomes a bit monotonous. If only La Trobe had a campus by the beach!

Professor Patrick Humbert – academic bio

Fluent in French and English, Patrick was born in France and moved to Australia as a teenager, completing an undergraduate degree in Perth at the University of Western Australia before undertaking his PhD in immunology at WEHI in Melbourne.

The offer of a post-doc position at MIT saw him relocate to Boston, where he made seminal contributions to understanding the transcriptional control of tumour cell proliferation. Patrick returned to Melbourne to begin his own lab at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, studying the genetic program that governs the asymmetry of cells and how this in turn regulates stem cell function, the architecture of organs, and cancer progression and metastasis.

Professor Humbert brought his lab over to LIMS at La Trobe University in 2016, becoming the University’s Theme Lead for ‘Understanding and Preventing Disease’ in 2021 and the LIMS Director in 2022.

For more information on Professor Patrick Humbert visit the Humbert Lab or his La Trobe University Academic Profile.