October 2018

Welcome to our
Spring newsletter.

James Whisstock
EMBL Australia Scientific Head
It’s always a pleasure to visit our European colleagues over at EMBL Heidelberg, but it was particularly thrilling to have a delegation of EMBL Australia group leaders and senior stakeholders of our Partner Laboratory Network share the privilege last month.

Our delegation numbered more than 40 people and commenced with an address by Director General Ian Mattaj. Also very much appreciated was a wonderful presentation by Dr Jan Ellenberg, where he outlined the future of imaging at EMBL. This includes the construction (currently underway) of a dedicated new building for imaging that will house state-of-the-art light and electron microscopes. Once online, the new EMBL imaging centre will provide access to key biological imaging technologies to scientists around the world. In these regards, I anticipate that our associate membership of EMBL will greatly facilitate our own national efforts to build and maintain key imaging technologies, and further foster partnerships such as the Global Bioimaging Project.

Following this exciting introduction, we commenced a wonderful two days of scientific presentations from Australian and European group leaders, with wide-ranging scientific talks that included imaging, genomics, bioinformatics, immunology and transcription. I would like to thank our EMBL colleagues for putting together such a compelling program.

Closer to home, we’re looking for a world-class researcher with a background in developing or applying cutting-edge imaging technology to address major biological questions to lead their own independent research laboratory at Monash University, as part of our Partner Laboratory Network. We’ve also recently recruited an exciting young theoretical physicist, Dr Richard Morris, to join our node at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Meanwhile, our group leaders have been busy continuing their innovative research, resulting in a number of significant papers and review articles recently published in top journals, including Nature, Nature Genetics, Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Communications, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology and Molecular Cell (see the publications section for full details). Further, EMBL Australia group leader Ville-Petteri Mäkinen and his team have revealed a genetic link between Alzheimer’s and the endo-lysosomal system and group leader Maté Biro was part of a team of scientists who have discovered a new ‘micro-organ’ within the immune system, which could assist scientists in understanding how to make better vaccines.

Finally, after attending another fantastic PhD Course in July (this time at UNSW), I’m very much looking forward to sharing in the EMBL Australia Postgraduate Symposium in November (tickets are still available) and seeing more deserving PhD students attend EMBL courses next year with the assistance of our travel grants.

Delegation to EMBL fosters new collaborations

A delegation of EMBL Australia group leaders and senior representatives recently attended EMBL Heidelberg, visiting its world-class facilities and sharing ideas for future research with international colleagues.

Read more

Position available: Group Leader in Biological Imaging

Do you know an early-career scientist pushing technological boundaries in biological imaging, who seeks to make major discoveries running their own independent research program? We want them! 

See position description

Dr Richard Morris to lead research group at UNSW

Theoretical physicist Dr Richard Morris is the newest inspiring young researcher recruited to join our Partner Laboratory Network as a Group Leader, based at the University of New South Wales.

Read his profile below

Unlocking clues to the cause of Alzheimer’s disease

The mystery of what causes Alzheimer’s disease is a step closer to being solved after an EMBL Australia group leader and his team revealed a genetic link between Alzheimer’s and the endo-lysosomal system.

Read more

Career insights and networking were highlights of PhD Course

Sixty of the nation’s finest PhD students were exposed to the latest research in molecular biology, rare career insights from leading scientists and networking opportunities during our 5th annual PhD Course.

Read more

Is Europe calling? Our travel grant applications are open

With an EMBL Australia travel grant, you could take a short course, attend a conference or work alongside some of the world’s best young researchers at one of EMBL’s six European facilities.

Tell me more

Job opportunities

We are looking for a Group Leader in Biological Imaging (to be hosted within the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University, Victoria). Applications close Monday, 29 October 2018.
See the position description

Upcoming events

The EMBL Australia Postgraduate Symposium (EAPS) will be held at the Translational Research Institute, Brisbane on 28 - 30 November.

Student opportunities

Applications for travel grants of $2000 to train at one of EMBL’s six European facilities, attend a conference or take a short course (for travel between 1 January and 30 June 2019) are open now until 
31 October 2018.

Registrations for the annual EMBL Australia Postgraduate Symposium (EAPS) close on Friday, 2 November. The student-run symposium will be held at the Translational Research Institute, Brisbane on 28 – 30 November. Honours, Masters and PhD candidates are also invited to submit an image of their work to the EAPS ‘Science Meets Art’ competition.

Keen to undertake your PhD at EMBL in Europe? Registration for the EMBL International PhD Programme closes on
15 October, with applications due a week later.
See more opportunities

Recent publications

Memory B cells are reactivated in subcapsular proliferative foci of lymph nodes
Biro M
Nat. Commun. (2018), 9(1):3372. 
Mechanoimmunology: molecular-scale forces govern immune cell functions
Biro M
Mol. Biol. Cell (2018), 29(16):1917-2035.
The many faces and important roles of protein-protein interactions during non-ribosomal peptide synthesis
Cryle MJ
Nat. Prod. Rep. (2018). DOI: 10.1039/C8NP00038G

Recent publications (cont.)

Investigating the affinity of poly tert-butyl acrylate toward Toll-Like Receptor 2
Gambin Y
AIMS Allergy and Immunology (2018), 2(3):141-147.
Structure of a PSI–LHCI–cyt b6f supercomplex in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii promoting cyclic electron flow under anaerobic conditions
Gambin Y
PNAS (2018), 115(41):10517-10522.

Monitoring hippocampal glycine with the computationally designed optical sensorGlyFS.
Janovjak H
Nat. Chem. Biol. (2018), 14:861-869.
Optical functionalization of human Class A orphan G-protein-coupled receptors.
Janovjak H
Nat. Commun. (2018) 9:1950.
Analysis and Visualization of Dynamic Networks Using the DyNet App for Cytoscape
Lynn DJ
Curr Protoc Bioinformatics (2018), 63(1):e55.
Genome-wide association study of intraocular pressure uncovers new pathways to glaucoma.
Lynn DJ
Nat Genet. (2018), 50(8):1067-1071.
Genetic variation within endolysosomal system is associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease
Mäkinen VP
Brain (2018), 141(9):2711-2720.
The ATP transporter VNUT mediates induction of Dectin-1-triggered Candida nociception
Martino MM
ISCI (2018), 6:306-318.

Immune Regulation of Tissue Repair and Regeneration via miRNAs – New Therapeutic Target
Martino MM
Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. (2018), 6(98).
Smchd1 regulates long-range chromatin interactions on the inactive X chromosome and at Hox clusters.
McGlinn E
Nat Struct Mol Biol. (2018), 25(9):766-777.
miR-196b target screen reveals mechanisms maintaining leukemia stemness with therapeutic potential.
McGlinn E
J Exp Med. (2018), 215(8):2115-2136.
Efficient and Accurate Quantitative Profiling of Alternative Splicing Patterns of Any Complexity on a Laptop
Weatheritt RJ
Mol. Cell (2018), 72(1):187-200.


Dr Richard Morris will join our Partner Laboratory Network as a Group Leader, based at the University of New South Wales, early next year.


What are your scientific interests?
I'm a theoretical physicist who focuses on mathematical (and computational) descriptions of all things living (such as membranes, cells, and tissues, for example).

Which unresolved question would you most like to answer?
Traditionally, living systems, with all their complexity and idiosyncrasies, are seen as being somewhat outside the purview of theoretical physics. But I want to know if this is really true. How far can theories be pushed to truly describe the living, and can they work hand-in-glove with experiment, like today's modern physics? Perhaps most importantly, how can such theories be leveraged to deliver new scientific insight?

Name one tool you can’t do without.
My laptop, plain and simple. I need it for tasks that range from image processing and data analysis to the coding of simulations or numerics. I even use a computer to check my analytical work and perform algebraic tasks that would otherwise be long and tedious (and therefore likely to generate a mistake!).
What will you be looking for as you build your group?
I always think it needs to be like a good sports team; on the one hand motivated and cohesive, with everyone working for each other, but on the other hand, diverse enough that everyone brings something different to the team.

What are your goals for your group?
Fundamentally, I want to use theory (and computation) to drive better science. That is: better understanding of data; better, more quantitative, predictions; and better conceptualisation and experimental design.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Someone once said to me: "Try not to solve other people's problems". Of course, at first sight, this seems a bit selfish, but in the context of science it actually makes a lot of sense. Science is full of problems, big and small, and just because you think you know how to solve something doesn't mean it’s the right use of your time; better to focus on the problems that you think are important to the field, and stay true to your goals.
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