BAppSci (Central Qld) Chemistry (Distinction), BAppSci (Central Qld) Chemistry (Hons I), PhD (Qld) Biochemistry
Position: 
Senior Lecturer
Room: 
327
Phone: 
+61 7 336 53756
Role: 

Group Leader, Macromolecular Machines and Disease Laboratory

Convener, Biophysics Dual Major (Bachelor of Science)

Program Co-Director, BSc Honours Program in Molecular Biosciences 

Co-coordinator, School Seminar Series in Molecular Biosciences and Member of the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences Engagement and Advancement Committee

 

Biography: 

My undergraudate and Honours studies, majoring in Chemistry, were completed at Central Queensland University and the CSIRO (JM Rendel laboratories) before I moved to the University of Queensland to study a PhD in Biochemistry (awarded 2003).  I then moved to a postdoctoral position at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, securing promotion to Senior Research Officer in 2009 and spending time as a Visiting Scientist at Harvard Medical School (2008) and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute (2010).  I joined the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences as a Senior Lecturer in 2016.

Brief Research Description: 
Structure and function of molecular machines
Research Focus and Collaborations: 

Research in my lab is motivated by the fundamental requirement to improve our understanding of the way in which large and intricately-assembled macromolecular machines come together and function.  Since the arrival of the 'genomic era' at the start of the 21st century, science has benefited from an unprecedented capability to identify genes and proteins that are linked to health and human disease.  But it has now become clear that a list of genes involved in disease is not enough for a number of reasons, but perhaps most importantly because genes and the proteins they encode rarely act in isolation.  Rather, they form (often large) networks of interactions with proteins and other molecules.  Obtaining a full appreciation of how proteins come together and interact, either transiently or more permanently, to achieve cellular function(s) is a core underlying theme of our labs research.

We have a particular interest in understanding fundamental mechanisms that enable infection by viruses and contribute to virulence associated with pathogenic micro-organisms.  To achieve this, study the molecular structure of the proteins and protein complexes involved, principally using cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM).  Historically, cryo-EM has bridged the resolution gap between light microscopy (which can visualise small cells and large subcellular organelles) and high resolution methods for studying the structure of smaller proteins and some protein complexes (X-ray crystallography and biomolecular NMR).  However, recent exciting developments in cryo-EM imaging have placed ourselves and other cryo-EM research labs around the world in a position where we can no directly visualise the large molecular machines (and even smaller assemblies) at levels of detail which rival the capabilities of protein crystallography and NMR.

Research projects available in the following area (more details are available on our lab research page linked above)

  •   Characterisation of bacterial ABC toxins
  •   Molecular mechanisms of Vps4-mediated viral infection
  •   Structure and function of molecular machines
  •   Development of methods for single particle cryo-EM
Secondary Research Areas: 
Funded Projects: 

ARC Discovery Project (2017-2019)
Unveiling the molecular mechanism of bacterial ABC toxins
Total value of grant: $418,000

NHMRC Project Grant (2017-2021)
Structure and function of a cancer-linked co-regulator complex
Total value of grant: $1,282,475

NHMRC Project Grant (2016-2018)
Characterisation and inhibition of higher-order assembly signalling in Toll-like receptor pathways
Total value of grant: $711,995

ARC Linkage, Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (2015)
Reaching new heignts in high-resolution electron microscopy
Total value of grant: $945,000

Australian Synchrotron Access Program (2015-2016)
Using SAXS to study nucleotide-dependent structural changes in a labile anti-viral drug target
Total value of grant: $1,570

Australian Synchrotron Access Program (2015)
Combining gradient crosslinking and SAXS to stabilise and tudy nucleotide-dependent structural changes in a labile anti-viral drug target
Total value of grant: $1,352

Marsden Fund (2015-2018)
RHS-repeat-containg proteins, a new paradigm for target protein delivery
Total value of grant: $773,000

UQ Major Equipment and Infrastructure (2015)
Protein Analysis Facility
Total value of grant: $65,000

UQ ResTeach Fellowship (2014,2015)
ResTeach Affiliate in the School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences (0.1,0.15FTE) 
Total value of grant: $32,154

NHMRC Project Grant (2013-2015)
Endosomal protein trafficking complexes - therapeutic targets for novel antivirals
Total value of grant: $524,878

MAWA Trust Research Grant (2012)
Structure of a novel protein target for anti-viral drugs that is conserved between yeast and human
Total value of grant: $10,000

Teaching: 

BIOC3000 Advanced Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 

BIPH2000 Foundations of Biophysics (Coordinator)

BIOC6007 Directed Studies in Biomolecular Structure & Function

BIOC7004 Advanced Protein Technology

Significant Professional Activities and Awards: 
Professional Activities:
  •   Program Chair, 4th Prato Conference on Pore Forming Proteins 
  •   Program Commitee, CRYSTAL31 Meeting of the Society of Crystllographers in Australia and New Zealand (2017)
  •   Co-chair, 2015 East Coast Protein Meeting
  •   Member of the Queensland Protein Group Executive Committee since 2010
Awards:
  •   AgResearch Science Prize (2015)
  •   Australian Microscopy & Microanlaysis Society David Goodchild Award
  •   RACI Central Queensland Branch Award (1997)
Group Members: 

Dr Irene Chassagnon Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Lou Brillault Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Sarah Piper PhD Student

Joseph Box PhD Student

Andrew Hedger PhD Student

Weixi Gu PhD Student

Mohammad Kawsar Manik PhD Student

Selected Publications: