After finishing his undergraduate degree at the Toulouse III University, Mat Francois undertook a PhD in Paris, studying the role of nuclear receptors in the control of inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, finishing in 2004.

In 2005 he moved to Australia as a postdoctoral scientist in Peter Koopman’s laboratory, and began researching the role of SOX transcription factors in the control of lymphatic vessel development. His research led to the discovery of a molecular switch (SOX18) responsible for triggering the development of the lymphatic vascular system in the embryo. This finding helped him to launch his independent career. He was awarded the ASMR Queensland Premier’s award in 2009 and a UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award in 2011.

Late in 2011 Mat set up his own lab at IMB to focus on the molecular hierarchy that governs endothelial cell differentiation during embryogenesis, and later received a career development award to elucidate the role of SOX protein in the modulation of the lymphatic and blood vascular growth that controls both embryonic development and tumour metastasis.

Mat’s research at IMB is now based on the combination of developmental biology and the use of pathophysiological models (e.g. cancer metastasis and lymphoedema) in combination with a drug discovery pipeline to identify novel therapeutic approaches to block cancer metastasis via the pharmacological manipulation of transcription factor activity.