Congratulations Adam on the award of the ARC DECRA fellowship

Monash University’s Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences has been awarded $1,767,744 under the ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme with all awards going to Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers.

The Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan announced $84 million for 200 new research projects to be funded under the DECRA scheme.

Researchers at the Monash BDI received four awards from 15 applications, representing a 27% success rate. The awards cover a diverse range of fundamental discovery research topics aimed at unlocking challenging biological problems.

“This is wonderful news in what has been a challenging year for early career researchers, and I congratulate all of our talented and committed young scientists on their success,” said Professor John Carroll, Director of the Biomedicine Discovery Institute and Dean of Biomedical Sciences.

The DECRA scheme supports early-career researchers by providing resources to focus on advancing their research and the opportunities to build important connections and knowledge.  Monash University received $7,076,818 for 17 awards for 2021.

Each DECRA recipient will receive salary support for three years and up to $50,000 in additional funding per year for other costs essential to their project.

A full list of the 2021 ARC DECRA recipients and their projects is available on the ARC website at: Discovery Early Career Research Award 2021.

The grants awarded in the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences include:

Dr Adam Shahine (Rossjohn Lab)
Biochemistry & Molecular BiologyInfection & Immunity Program , Monash BDI $458,120

This award will allow Dr Shahine to undertake discovery research to investigate the molecular mechanisms underpinning the role of lipids in T cell immunity: an emerging area of immense biological significance. The anticipated goal is to generate new knowledge in the areas of the life sciences, by using a multidisciplinary approach that includes structural biology, mass spectrometry, biophysics, and cellular immunology, to gain fundamental insight into molecular determinants that govern lipid mediated immunity. Expected outcomes and benefits of this project include building international and interdisciplinary collaborations to enhance national research capacity, and provide marked advancement of core knowledge in the biological sciences.

Dr Emma Grant (Gras Lab)
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Infection & Immunity Program,Monash BDI $450,948

This project aims to characterise a unique and understudied surface molecule (HLA-E). The immune system is activated and regulated by a complex set of molecules including HLA molecules present on the cell surface that inform the immune system of infection. Therefore, this project expects to generate new knowledge in the areas of cellular biology and immunology by utilising a cutting-edge and multi-disciplinary approach. Expected outcomes of this project include the generation of new knowledge of this unconventional molecule and its interaction with immune cells. This should provide significant impacts by defining the non-conventional role of HLA-E within the immune system, which may advise future research into vaccines or therapeutics.

Dr Michael Uckelmann (Davidovich Lab)
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Cancer Program , Monash BDI $430,485

To explore the fundamental question of how genes are switched off, this project will study a group of molecular off-switches, the polycomb group proteins. The project is expected to generate new knowledge in the area of gene regulation and epigenetics by combining innovative methods of structural biology and cell biology in an interdisciplinary way. The expected outcomes include a more complete picture of the molecular mechanisms that regulate gene expression and the development of novel methods to image the genome. This should provide significant benefits, such as facilitated development of gene editing tools and regulatory circuits for synthetic biology, as well as novel capabilities to image the genome at high resolution.

Dr Amy Winship (Hutt Lab)
Anatomy & Developmental Biology, Development & Stem Cells Program , Monash BDI $428,191

The project aims to investigate fundamental biological mechanisms required for the production of high-quality oocytes, which fortify female fertility and the propagation of all sexually reproducing species. Exploiting unique mouse models, this study will define the importance of single strand DNA break repair capacity in oocytes for the first time, by outlining the role of single strand DNA repair proteins in maintaining genetic integrity of gametes throughout their lifespan. In doing so, the intended outcome of this project is to dramatically improve our understanding of quality control in the female germ line. This should provide significant benefits to Australia by positioning it as a world leader in the field of Reproductive Science.

Read the full story about all 17 Monash University DECRA recipients.

Original article: BDI researchers awarded ARC DECRA funding