July 2018

Welcome to our
mid-year newsletter.

James Whisstock
EMBL Australia Scientific Head
It gives me great pleasure to share with you the latest instalment of EMBL Australia news.

I am particularly thrilled to announce that two of our group leaders at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Associate Professors David Lynn and Ville-Petteri Mäkinen, have had their positions confirmed for a further four years after impressing their respective review panels with their excellent work during their mid-term reviews last week.

I’d also like to extend a warm welcome to our newest group leader, Dr Robert Weatheritt, who commenced at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research last month. Dr Weatheritt and his team will research how post-transcriptional regulation contributes to proteomic diversity and cell signalling and aim to understand the molecular basis of complex disorders, such as cancer and autism spectrum disorder. 

Our Partner Laboratory Network continues to grow. Just last month we officially launched the ACT Node at the Australian National University’s John Curtain School of Medical Research, which will soon host two EMBL Australia group leaders. We were privileged to hear from Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel and ANU Vice-Chancellor and Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt at the launch, as well as EMBL Director General Professor Iain Mattaj, who also gave an entertaining and informative public lecture at Federation Square in Melbourne during his recent visit.

Earlier this week, I enjoyed welcoming 60 fresh faces to our 5th annual PhD Course – hosted this year at the University of New South Wales – and meeting the next generation of scientific stars. There are still plenty of other student opportunities available: we’re offering travel grants for students to attend EMBL’s PhD Symposium in Germany and registrations for the EMBL Australia Postgraduate Symposium (held in late November in Brisbane) are now open.

Our ACT Node has launched

In exciting news, the Australian National University has joined our Partner Laboratory Network as our first host institute in the ACT. The Node was recently launched by Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel and a number of other esteemed researchers.

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Can early antibiotic use make vaccination less effective? 

Research led by EMBL Australia Group Leader Associate Professor David Lynn has shown that, in animal models, antibiotic exposure in infants impairs their immune responses to five important vaccinations. 

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Life science research to tackle societal challenges 

At a public address in Melbourne, EMBL Director General Professor Iain Mattaj shared how EMBL's model of giving ambitious young researchers complete scientific freedom has led to ground-breaking discoveries.

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An app to analyse spatially resolved gene expression data

Flinders University PhD student John Salamon, EMBL Australia Group Leader David Lynn and others have created InsituNet, the first software application for analysis of spatially resolved gene expression data.

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Travel grant successes: job offers, collaborations and more

Students awarded EMBL Australia travel grants say their overseas trips led to postdoctoral job offers and enhanced their research, networks and collaboration opportunities. Grant applications are now open. 

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Upcoming events

The 5th annual EMBL Australia PhD Course started on Monday, 2 July. The two-week residential course is being held at the University of New South Wales.

The 4th Prato Conference on Pore-Forming Proteins will be held in Italy on 24 - 27 September.

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

Job opportunities

The EMBL Australia node in Single Molecule Science at the University of New South Wales is looking for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Applications close on 26 July.

Student opportunities

Applications for travel grants of $2000 to attend the 20th EMBL PhD Symposium in Germany, held between 22 - 24 November 2018, are open now until 15 August

Registration and abstract submission for the EMBL Australia Postgraduate Symposium (EAPS) is now open to all honours, masters and PhD students wishing to network and showcase their work in an open and friendly environment. The theme of the student-run symposium, which will be held at the Translational Research Institute, Brisbane on 28 – 30 November, is ‘Translational Research: Linking Science and Daily Life’.
See more opportunities

Recent publications

Chaperone-Independent Peripheral Quality Control of CFTR by RFFL E3 Ligase.
Apaja PM
Dev Cell. (2018) 44(6):694-708.

Investigating Cytochrome P450 specificity during glycopeptide antibiotic biosynthesis through a homologue hybridization approach.
Cryle MJ
J Inorg Biochem. (2018) 185:43-51.

Precursor Manipulation in Glycopeptide Antibiotic Biosynthesis: Are β‐Amino Acids Compatible with the Oxidative Cyclization Cascade?
Cryle MJ
J Org Chem. (2018)
doi: 10.1021/acs.joc.8b00418.

The Thioesterase Domain in Glycopeptide Antibiotic Biosynthesis Is Selective for Cross-Linked Aglycones.
Cryle MJ
ACS Chem Biol. (2018) 13(1):110-120.

Unrivalled diversity: the many roles and reactions of bacterial cytochromes P450 in secondary metabolism.
Cryle MJ
Nat Prod Rep. (2018) Apr 18.
doi: 10.1039/c7np00063d.

Cell-free formation and interactome analysis of caveolae.
Gambin Y
J Cell Biol. (2018) 217(6):2141-2165.

Functional domain analysis of SOX18 transcription factor using a single-chain variable fragment-based approach.
Gambin Y
mAbs. (2018) 10(4):596-606.

Ultrastructural localisation of protein interactions using conditionally stable nanobodies.
Gambin Y
PLoS Biol. (2018) 16(4):e2005473.

Unexpected instabilities explain batch‐to‐batch variability in cell‐free protein expression systems.
Gambin Y
Biotechnol Bioeng. (2018) Mar 31. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2005473.

Early-Life Antibiotic-Driven Dysbiosis Leads to Dysregulated Vaccine Immune Responses in Mice.
Lynn DJ
Cell Host Microbe. (2018) 23(5):653-660.

Network Visualization and Analysis of Spatially Aware Gene Expression Data with InsituNet.
Lynn DJ
Cell Syst. (2018) 6(5):626-630.

Regulatory T-cells: Potential Regulator of Tissue Repair and Regeneration.
Martino M
Front. Immunol. 23 March 2018.


Dr Robert Weatheritt is an EMBL Australia Group Leader, based at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney.


Share something about you most people wouldn't know:
My first time on a plane was when I was 16. I flew from London to Sydney to visit my brother.

What are your scientific interests?
I’m interested in how post-transcriptional regulation expands phenotypic complexity. Day-to-day, my work involves exploring how the interplay between post-transcriptional regulation and intrinsically disordered regions controls cell homeostasis with the nervous system.

Which unresolved question would you most like to answer?
A key future challenge is to understand the molecular mechanisms underpinning the multitude of debilitating neurological and psychological disorders.
What has been a highlight of your research career to date?
Helping to uncover a molecular mechanism that impacts a third of idiopathic autism spectrum disorder cases.

Name one tool you can’t do without. 

What will you be looking for as you build your research group?
I’d like to work with friendly people who are passionate about understanding the inner workings of the cell.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t believe the hype! Read broadly, but be cynical of everything you read (especially in top journals).

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