Congratulations Jamie – elected to The Royal Society

Professor Jamie Rossjohn, one of Australia’s leading scientists, has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) – one of the world’s most prestigious scientific bodies – in recognition of his transformative contributions to science.

The Royal Society, established in the 1660s, is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence in the world. During Monash’s 70-year history, Professor Rossjohn is only the second Monash University researcher to receive this international recognition.

Professor Rossjohn FRS, from the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University, is among 62 exceptional scientists honoured with Fellowships in 2022, joining the ranks of the world’s most eminent scientists. Previous Royal Society Fellows include Charles Darwin, Peter Doherty, Dorothy Hodgkin and over 280 Nobel Laureates.

A greater understanding of immunity has led to rapid advances in the development of vaccines and new cancer immunotherapies.  Developing groundbreaking and sustained discoveries that advance our molecular understanding of the immune system, Professor Rossjohn has made a pioneering contribution to natural knowledge and greatly enhanced Australia’s international reputation and capability for scientific discovery.

Professor Rossjohn’s citation says:

‘Professor Jamie Rossjohn is principally known for his contributions to the understanding of disease and the vertebrate host response, both from the aspect of protective and deleterious immunity. Namely, he has used structural biology to understand how T cell receptors recognise peptides, lipids and metabolites. Specifically, he has unearthed structural mechanisms of Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) polymorphism impacting on viral immunity, drug and food hypersensitivities and T cell mediated autoimmunity.

Rossjohn has pioneered our molecular understanding of how T cells bind lipid-based antigens presented by the CD1 family. He has elucidated the structural basis of how vitamin B metabolites are presented by the MHC class I related protein, MR1; this revealed an entirely new class of antigen for T cells.’ 

“Ultimately these basic discoveries may lay the foundation for future innovative immunotherapies to treat disease,” Professor Rossjohn said.

“I view this appointment as a broader recognition of the team’s efforts in discovery science over the last two decades since I joined Monash – the team of researchers who undertook the investigations, the national and international collaborative team, and team Monash,” Professor Rossjohn said.

“Monash was broad-minded enough to give me an opportunity as a new lab head and provided an ideal environment that has enabled my basic research program to thrive.”

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said: “It is an honour to welcome so many outstanding researchers from around the world into the Fellowship of the Royal Society.

“Through their careers so far, these researchers have helped further our understanding of human disease, biodiversity loss and the origins of the universe. I am also pleased to see so many new Fellows working in areas likely to have a transformative impact on our society over this century, from new materials and energy technologies to synthetic biology and artificial intelligence. I look forward to seeing what great things they will achieve in the years ahead.”

Professor Rossjohn will attend a ceremony in London in July where he will give a presentation of his work, sign the Charter book and be formally admitted as a Fellow.

Read more about Professor Rossjohn in Monash Lens.

Click here to learn more about the Royal Society and see the full list of 2022 Royal Society Fellows.

Original article

Also published here.

Outstanding Academy Fellows elected to Royal Society

Four Australian scientists have been elected Fellows of the Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, for their outstanding contributions to scientific understanding.

Professor Carola Vinuesa FAA FRS FAHMS

Professors Carola Vinuesa, Jamie Rossjohn, Richard Robson and Bob Pressey are among a group of 62 individuals worldwide who have been recognised this year by the Royal Society. All are already Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science.

Professor Vinuesa has been recognised for discovering populations of immune T cells, proteins and genes that work to improve the quality of antibodies that fight infectious microbes, while preventing production of harmful antibodies that can cause autoimmune diseases such as lupus or allergies.

“I feel very grateful to the many incredible members of my team and colleagues who have contributed to our discoveries over the last 20 years,” said Professor Vinuesa, who is based at the Francis Crick Institute and the Australian National University.

“Science will be absolutely key for the survival of our species living in a warming planet and in a world with increasing antibiotic resistance and threats of viral pandemics.

“Science can also bring justice to vulnerable people, as we hope to see in the case of Kathleen Folbigg, where genomic advances have proven her innocence after 19 years in jail falsely accused of killing her four children.”

Professor Jamie Rossjohn FAA FRS FAHMS

Professor Rossjohn is a leading structural biologist who is principally known for his contributions to the understanding the molecular basis underpinning infectious disease and the vertebrate host response.

He said he felt over the moon and overwhelmed to join the prestigious Royal Society and said his election highlighted the importance of basic research.

“Breakthrough scientific discoveries represent the foundation from which new technologies and therapies ultimately emerge,” said Professor Rossjohn, who is based at Monash University.

“The importance of discovery science is rapidly diminishing in Australia. It is important for science to have a strong voice so that we are trusted and supported by the public and government.”

Royal Society President, Professor Sir Adrian Smith, said it was an honour to welcome so many outstanding researchers from around the world into the Fellowship of the Royal Society.

“Through their careers so far, these researchers have helped further our understanding of human disease, biodiversity loss and the origins of the universe,” said Professor Smith.

“I am also pleased to see so many new Fellows working in areas likely to have a transformative impact on our society over this century, from new materials and energy technologies to synthetic biology and artificial intelligence.”

The Fellowship of the Royal Society includes the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from or living and working in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

Each year up to 52 Fellows and up to 10 Foreign Members are elected from a group of about 700 candidates.

Past Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society have included Charles Darwin, Lise Meitner, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin, and Stephen Hawking.

Read the Fellows’ citations and full list of Fellows elected to the Royal Society.

Original article

Congratulations Wael – Recipient of the ASBMB: 2022 EPPENDORF EDMAN ECR AWARD

THE 2022 EPPENDORF EDMAN ECR AWARD: WAEL AWAD

Monash Biomedical Discovery Institute

Monash University

Dr Wael Awad completed BSc and MSc studies at Cairo University, Egypt, resulting in two publications in the fields of molecular biophysics. With the support of an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship, Wael then moved to Sweden and completed a PhD under the supervision of Professor Derek Logan at Lund University. Wael’s PhD research was focused on the structural and functional characterisation of glycoproteins integral to cellular communication and signalling. His outstanding PhD dissertation led to five publications (four as first author and one review) and received the Best PhD Thesis Award from the MAX-IV Synchrotron (2015, Sweden). Wael then pursued his scientific career as a Research Fellow at Monash University (November 2015), under the mentorship of Professor Jamie Rossjohn. At Monash, he has brought a wealth of technical expertise in biochemistry and protein crystallography to markedly advance our understanding of the molecular correlates of metabolite-mediated T cell immunity.

Wael has demonstrated an ability to drive high-calibre research, and establish strong and fruitful collaborations as evidenced by his authorship of 19 original publications (nine as the first author and three reviews) in top-tier journals including Science, Nature Immunology, Science Immunology and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. Of note, his seminal research on the molecular basis underpinning T cell recognition of microbial-derivatives was showcased on the cover of the April 2020 issue of Nature Immunology. This research paves the way for the development of innovative therapeutics based on selective modulation of T cell immunity. In addition, he has determined 28 protein crystal structures, the data for which have been deposited into the Protein Data Bank open access repository.

Wael has now established an international profile in the field of structural immunology as evidenced by his high impact publications and his selection to present at more than 30 national and international conferences. He has been recognised with more than 16 awards for research excellence including the prestigious International Union of Crystallography Young Scientist Award (New Zealand, 2018), the Robert Porter ECR Publication Prize 2021 for Laboratory-based Sciences (Monash University) and the Robin Anders Young Investigator Award 2021 (Lorne Proteins). He has recently been awarded an Australian ARC DECRA Fellowship (2022–2024) to support the development of his research program in the field of metabolite-mediated T cell immunity.

 

Original article

How T Cells recognise infection or disease

Monash University researchers have expanded their knowledge of how T cells might recognise infections or disease, providing key insight into how an often-overlooked T cell lineage becomes activated when encountering pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and cancers.

T cells communicate with other cells in the body in search of infections or diseases. This crosstalk relies on specialised receptors known as T cell receptors that recognise foreign molecular fragments from an infection or cancer that are presented for detection by particular molecules called major histocompatibility complex (MHC) or MHC-like.

In this study, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute scientists have expanded the understanding of how a poorly defined class of gamma delta T cells recognises an MHC-like molecule known as MR1. MR1 is a protein sensor that takes cellular products generated during infections or disease and presents them for T cells to detect, thereby alerting the immune system.

These gamma delta T cells play an understudied role within specific tissues around the body including the intestinal tract and may be an important factor in diseases that impact these tissues.

The findings are published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study was co-led by Dr Benjamin S. Gully and Dr Martin Davey with first author Mr Michael Rice from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute.

Mr Rice, a PhD student in the Rossjohn lab, says the more we understand how such cells recognise, interact with and even kill infected, diseased or cancerous cells, the greater informed we are when developing therapies and treatments for a range of conditions.

“Gamma delta T cells are key players in the immune response to infected and cancerous cells, yet we know very little about how they mediate these important functions,” said Mr Rice.

By using a high-intensity X-ray beam at the Australian Synchrotron, the scientists were able to obtain a detailed 3D atomic model of how the gamma delta T cell receptor recognises MR1. What sets these cells apart from others seems to be the unusual ways in which they interact with MR1. This work further recasts our understanding of how T cell receptors can interact with specialised MHC-like molecules and represents a notable development for our understanding of T cell biology.

Mr Rice stated: “By using high-resolution protein imaging and biochemical assays, we were able to identify key mechanisms that govern gamma delta T cell receptor recognition of MR1, a key sensor of bacterial infection.”

Co-lead author Dr Gully said: “These cells have evaded characterisation for a long time, leading to many assumptions on how they become activated. Here we have shown that these gamma delta T cells can recognise MHC-like molecules in their own unique ways and in ways we could not have predicted.

“These results will now inform our attempts to understand the roles of these gamma delta T cells within the tissues in which they are found,

Pictured (L-R): Co-lead author Dr Martin Davey, PhD student and first author Mr Michael Rice, Co-lead author Dr Benjamin Gully

Pictured (L-R): Co-lead author Dr Martin Davey, PhD student and first author Mr Michael Rice, Co-lead author Dr Benjamin Gully

and in deciphering their roles within disease.”

Dr Davey said: “These are important T cells that form a major component of the immune system within human tissues such as the lungs and gastrointestinal tract. With a greater understanding of how our immune system operates within these tissues, we can reveal crucial insight into disease.

“A better understanding of these tissue-specific T cells could reveal their power as a new line of immunotherapies for infection and cancer immunotherapy.”

The study represented a cross-disciplinary collaboration between researchers from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Monash Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases and Monash University. The research findings involved collaborative support from Australian scientists, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging, and the use of the Australian Synchrotron. This research was supported by funding from the Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the NIH, National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council.

Read the full paper in PNAS titled “Recognition of the antigen-presenting molecule MR1 by a Vδ3+ γδ T cell receptor.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2110288118

Original article

Monash BDI researchers make Highly Cited list for the fourth consecutive year

Two Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers have been recognised for their exceptional research performance, determined by production of multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top one per cent by citations for a field and year.

Professor Jamie Rossjohn and Professor Charles Mackay have each been ranked as a 2021 Highly Cited Researcher in the prestigious list released in November by Clarivate Analytics.

Professor Rossjohn’s research focus is on understanding, at the molecular level, how the T cell receptor specifically recognises polymorphic Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) molecules in the context of protective immunity, autoimmunity and other adverse T cell reactivities. Further, he has pioneered the molecular understanding of lipid and metabolite based immunity by T cells that recognise HLA class-I like molecules, CD1 and MR1, respectively. This is the fourth consecutive year that Professor Rossjohn has appeared on the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researcher list.

Professor Mackay has forged a new understanding of the gut microbiome and the important role it plays in immune responses including allergies and in a number of diseases including type 1 diabetes. His research into how immune responses can be manipulated using ‘medicinal foods’, as well as novel gut microbial species, is attracting both clinical and public interest, with the latest research findings moving to clinical trials.

Professor Mackay was highly cited from 2005 to 2010 under what was then the Institute for Scientific Information citation, and has remained on the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researcher list since 2017.

The Highly Cited Researcher list, now in its eighth year, determines the ‘who’s who’ of influential researchers, drawing on data and analysis to identify the world’s leading researchers who have demonstrated significant and broad influence. See the full list of researchers on the Web of Science:  Nineteen researchers from Monash University were recognised this year.

Image: Professor Jamie Rossjohn and Professor Charles Mackay

Original article