Tony graduated with a B.S. in Biology from Willamette University (Salem, Oregon, USA), and a Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA). At UNC-CH he was a member of Jack Griffith’s lab in the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Thereafter, he trained as a USA National Science Foundation International Research Fellow with Roger Reddel at CMRI and a USA National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Fellow with Jan Karlseder at the Salk Institute (La Jolla, California, USA). Tony returned to Sydney in June 2013 to establish his independent laboratory at CMRI with the assistance of a Cancer Institute NSW Future Research Leader Award.
Tony is known for a series of discoveries related to “telomeres”: the specialized structures that delineate the naturally occurring DNA ends from DNA breaks. This includes his seminal discovery that telomeres interact in a specific way with the DNA damage response machinery during ageing to arrest cell growth whilst simultaneously inhibiting aberrant DNA repair at chromosome ends. Subsequent discoveries by Dr. Cesare or his laboratory revealed how telomeres specifically inhibit activation of the DNA damage response by hiding the chromosome end in a lariat structure called a “telomere-loop (t-loop)”; that t-loops are opened during mitotic arrest through a mechanism of non-canonical telomere deprotection to promote cell death; and collaborative studies showing how t-loops are resolved in a cell cycle dependent manner to promote telomeric DNA replication. His lab continues to study telomere biology using advanced imaging and mass spectrometry methods.
Recently, Tony’s laboratory has expanded their research focus to broader aspects of genome stability. This includes projects that focus on the cellular response to difficulties that arise during DNA replication; the unique burdens embryonic stem cells face related to maintaining genomic health; how alteration of nuclear and chromatin architecture promotes genome stability; and how chemotherapeutic or radiation-oncology intervention promotes cancer cell death. Research in these areas uses advanced techniques including super-resolution and live cell imaging, advanced stem cell culture, mass spectrometry, and CRISPR/Cas9 screening.