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Dear <<First Name>>

EMBL Australia offers extraordinary opportunities in internationalising Australian research. Our objectives include creating and sustaining a rich network of training opportunities for young scientists, linking them to a global network of research leaders and access to the best infrastructure.  

This month we have the pleasure to announce the roll-out of the first EMBL Australia PhD scholarship program for commencement in 2017. Based on the success of last year’s pilot programme at the University of New South Wales, the program is now being offered nationally with applications open now (see below).  

In relation to training, I would like to especially highlight the recent work of Simone Li, who is a PhD student in the Bork group (Structural and Computational Biology Unit, EMBL Heidelberg) and in the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences (University of New South Wales). Simone was one of the first Australian students to enter the EMBL PhD program. Her recent findings, which were published in Science, have profound implications for the treatment of Clostridium Difficile infections. Many congratulations Simone!

In this month’s newsletter, we profile the new EMBL Australia Chair, Professor Brandon Wainwright. We further have a feature on the scientific discoveries and facilities available at the EMBL Australia, NSW node. Please feel welcome to pass our newsletter on to a colleague or retweet our Twitter feed, sharing EMBL Australia news and thus increasing our knowledge footprint.

Best regards,

James Whisstock

In this month's newsletter:

Profile – Chair of EMBL Australia Council – Professor Brandon Wainwright

Professor Brandon Wainwright is the current chair of EMBL Australia and is the Director at the Professor Brandon WainwrightInstitute Molecular Bioscience (IMB), based at the University of Queensland. He also serves on various boards including Life Sciences Queensland, the Australian Genome Research Facility and a number of international scientific review committees. In 2015, Professor Wainwright also chaired the Queensland Institute of Health.

At IMB, Brandon leads his own laboratory, which focuses on understanding the genetic pathways behind skin cancer and medulloblastoma, a type of brain tumour that occurs predominantly in children. He is probably best known for the co-discovery of Patched, the gene responsible for both the inherited and sporadic forms of basal cell carcinoma and his research on cystic fibrosis for many years.

Brandon completed all of his studies at The University of Adelaide, after which he secured a postdoctoral fellowship at St Mary’s Hospital at Imperial College London. While at Imperial, he worked on the first human genome project and made significant discoveries in the field of human molecular genetics as a Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellow. In 1990, he returned to Australia to join UQ’s Centre for Molecular and Cellular Biology (now IMB).

Professor Kat Gaus, NSW node, building the next generation of innovative microscopes 

Biomedical imaging these days is something to behold. With the convergence of a diverse mix of technologies and skills, development in this field is moving at an impressive pace. Kat Gaus’ group are building super-resolution fluorescence instruments that have the ability to image molecules within living cells. By gaining access to pre-commercial equipment via an industry partner, Kat’s team is designing and building a new generation of microscopes. 

The super-resolution fluorescent microscope captures images of molecules with about 10 nanometre precision. Other single molecule microscopes are built for speed or are designed for larger samples, but these instruments have allowed Kat’s group to view the workings of a signalling network in a fully functioning T-cell without pulling it apart. The team is investigating how T-cells make decisions, which will enable us to understand how the human body directs defences and will allow us to develop man-made tools to fight cancer.

The research group led by Kat contributes to cellular immunology as well as the molecular and cellular imaging and have published papers in Nature Communications (2012) and Nature Immunology (2013). 

The door to Kat’s group is always open to new collaborations. “We have different microscopes that are good at different things so it can be helpful to visit the lab and first break down the project into specific questions and then use the microscope that has the best chance of giving you the answer for that particular questions.” Kat goes on to say ‘Sometimes this question-focused approach works better than collecting lots of images and then having to work out what the images mean.’ 

The overriding question that Single Molecule Science or SMS – as the EMBL Australia Node at UNSW is called – is trying to answer is how the behaviour and interaction of individual molecules shape the system as a whole. For example, a single antigen can activate a T-cell. ‘We want to know how this is possible’ Kat says and goes on ‘after all, a cell is nothing but a bag full of molecules so how come one molecule can make all the difference? That’s the purpose of the new microscopes.'

Currently, there are over ten different microscopes in operation at the UNSW node, and another five are planned for this year. Her laboratory group is a mix of cell biologists and physicists that build these microscopes and jointly develop the imaging and analysis protocols.

If you want to get in touch with Kat, you can email her at

EMBL Australia – PhD Scholarship Program 2017

Following on from the success of last years’ pilot at the UNSW, the EMBL Australia PhD scholarship program is now being offered Australia-wide. Applications are being sought from students from Australia and overseas wishing to participate in the EMBL Australia PhD program for commencement in 2017. All applications are to be completed online. 
Application opening date is: 13 May 2016
Application closing date is: 6 June 2016

Shortlisted applicants will be notified by 18 July and interviews will be arranged by supervisors for the week (18-28 July). Interviews may be in person or via Skype.

Successful applicants will be notified and asked to apply to the University on the 29 July, 2016.
The first University deadline is 12 August 2016.

For further information, please contact, Jane McCausland, Student Programs Coordinator, EMBL Australia, Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University ph: (03) 9902 9607


EMBL - Heidelberg Postdoc Opportunities

Dr Jan Ellenberg (Head, Cell Biology and Biophysics unit) has two exciting research opportunities for postdocs in his group at EMBL headquarters in Heidelberg. He is currently seeking outstanding junior scientists to join his group who want to pursue ambitious interdisciplinary research in molecular cell biology and have recently completed or are about to finish their PhD.

Jan’s two projects are briefly described below: 

1. New genome labelling technologies for super-resolved live imaging
In this project, we are aiming at unraveling the dynamic 3D folding principles of the genome in single human cells. We will utilize 4D high- and super-resolution imaging technology combined with new tools of sequence specific fluorescence labelling of genomic loci to look at dynamic changes of chromosome organization during the cell cycle.

The ideal candidate should have experience in at least one of the following areas: advanced fluorescence microscopy/molecular biology/biochemistry.

2. Second generation inverted light-sheet microscopy
To unravel fundamental questions of cell division errors in early mammalian embryonic development we are aiming at designing and building a 2nd generation of our recently published inverted light-sheet microscope. The purpose of the new instrument is to enable long-term tracking of individual chromosomes over several embryonic divisions and to track the fate of aneuploidy cells in the living preimplantation mouse embryo. Key technical innovations will include new illumination and detection schemes to be able to image all blastomeres with single protein complex resolution, while maintaining the low photo toxicity and high throughput of light-sheet microscopy. Additionally, new image analysis tools will need to be developed to analyze the complex data generated by the microscope.

The ideal candidate should have experience in at least one of the following areas: optical engineering/software engineering for microscope control/computational image analysis. 

More details regarding these positions are available at:

Or for further information, you can contact Dr Jan Ellenberg on: e t +49-6221-3878391, f +49-6221-3878512 and visit the Ellenberg Group page on EMBL

Reminder - 18th EMBL (Heidelberg) PhD Symposium: 10 travel grants available to Australian students

EMBL Australia will be offering up to ten travel grants for students to attend the EMBL PhD Symposium in Heidelberg, Germany. This year the EMBL PhD Symposium, will be held at the EMBL Advanced Training Centre, EMBL Heidelberg, 17 - 19 November 2016. The theme this year is:

Life by Numb3rs: Towards Quantitative Biology

Opens online: Monday, 6 June 2016
Deadline: Monday, 15 August 2016

For more information about the symposium, please visit:

Details for the travel grants will be posted on the EMBL Australia website closer to the date.

If you need more information please contact Jane McCausland, EMBL Australia Student Programs Coordinator. t: (03) 990 29607, e:
Copyright © 2016 EMBL Australia, All rights reserved.

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