Congrats Praveena on the award of the ARC DECRA

Monash BDI early career researchers awarded more than $2m ARC DECRA funding

Five Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers have been awarded $2.23 million under the 2023 ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme.

Minister for Education, Hon Jason Clare MP, announced $85 million for 200 projects nationwide to support early career researchers under the DECRA scheme.

Researchers at the Monash BDI received five awards to support a diverse range of discovery research into nanobiotechnology, bacterial membrane remodelling, microbial life in the atmosphere, lipid-mediated T cell immunity, and understanding how T cells recognise and respond to foreign antigens.

“This success is a testament to the depth of excellence in our early career researcher cohort, and I congratulate this outstanding group of recipients,” said Professor John Carroll, Director of the Monash BDI.

The grants awarded to the Monash BDI are:

Project: ‘Molecular insights into lipid-mediated T cell immunity.’ Dr Praveena ThirunavukkarasuRossjohn Lab, awarded $421,485

This project involves the discovery of novel lipids produced by the microbiome that play a significant role in T cell-mediated immunity. Using a combination of cutting-edge technologies such as mass spectrometry, protein crystallography, immunology and biophysics, this project will elucidate the molecular factors that govern the interaction between the identified lipids and T cells. This innovative research will provide fundamental insights into the recognition mechanism of lipids by T cells at a molecular level, thus broadening our knowledge in the field of biological sciences. The expected research outcomes will increase Australia’s international research standing in this burgeoning area of lipid-mediated T cell immunity.

Project: ‘A novel bacterial secretion system for applications in nanobiotechnology.’ Dr Christopher StubenrauchLithgow Lab, awarded $429,449

This project aims to characterise a new molecular machine, called the S-Pump. Molecular machines drive the complex biology in all cells and are an exciting area of translational research, with broad potential for industrial applications. This project expects to provide fundamental insights into how bacterial S-Pumps contribute to antimicrobial resistance and enhancing food production. Expected outcomes include new tools for molecular machine discovery and identification of ways to adapt molecular machines for biotechnological applications. This work should enhance Australia-UK ties through collaboration, provide benefits toward nanobiotechnology and economic benefits through more efficient food production.

Project: ‘Bacterial membrane remodelling and the interaction with peptides.’ Dr Meiling HanJian Li Lab, awarded $450,241

This project aims to elucidate the fundamental mechanism of lipid remodelling in the Gram-negative outer membrane, which is critical both in preventing noxious compounds and evading host immune defence. For the first time, the complex interplay between bacterial cellular metabolism and membrane remodelling will be defined through systems pharmacology, and the precise membrane-peptide interaction will be examined by computational and biophysical approaches. Novel knowledge will be generated to improve our understanding of how bacteria remodel their outer membrane in response to environmental stress. This will benefit the future design of much-needed antimicrobial strategies including products and technologies to target bacterial membranes.

Project: ‘Microbial life in the atmosphere.’ Dr Rachael LappanGreening Lab, awarded $454,741

This project aims to resolve the nature and basis of microbial life in the atmosphere, the largest but most unexplored potential ecosystem on Earth. The atmosphere plays a role in transporting microbes, but our understanding of resident atmospheric microbial communities and their role in global atmospheric processes is minimal. Using cutting-edge molecular and biogeochemical approaches, this project aims to identify true microbial residents of the atmosphere, understand their mechanisms for survival in this environment and explore their role in seeding newly formed environments. The anticipated outcomes include fundamental knowledge on atmospheric microbial ecosystems, and their influence on global atmospheric processes.

Project: ‘Redefining how T cell recognition drives T cell activation.’ Dr Pirooz ZareieLa Gruta Lab, awarded $470,789

This proposal aims to define the key mechanisms that determine how T cells recognise and respond to foreign antigens; a critical feature that defines effective immunity. To achieve this goal, this proposal will leverage multidisciplinary collaborations and innovative methods to understand how structural and biochemical features of T cell receptor recognition influence T cell mediated immunity and development. In turn, this project will facilitate further research and development in the burgeoning field of T cell biology and advance life science research in Australia. Furthermore, as T cell biology is relevant to all vertebrates, this research will greatly benefit the conservation of threatened animal species and agriculture.

The DECRA scheme is designed to expand the knowledge base and research capacity in Australia and to provide economic, commercial, environmental, social and/or cultural benefits for Australia.

A full list of the 2023 ARC DECRA recipients and their projects is available on the ARC website.

Read the ARC Media Release announcing the DECRA scheme recipients on 16 September.

About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Spanning seven discovery programs across Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Development and Stem Cells, Infection, Immunity, Metabolism, Diabetes and Obesity, and Neuroscience, Monash BDI is one of the largest biomedical research institutes in Australia. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.

Original article

Also here

Congrats Wael on your ARC DECRA

Congratulations to Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute researcher Dr Wael Awad who is one of 15 Monash researchers recognised with Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA) from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Dr Awad’s (Le Nours Lab) project aims to undertake discovery research to investigate the roles of metabolites in T cell immunity. This project expects to generate new knowledge in the areas of cellular biology and immunology by using cutting-edge molecular and immunological approaches. This will provide fundamental insights into the mechanisms that govern microbial metabolite-based T cell immunity, which may advise future research into vaccines or therapeutics.

In addition to knowledge gains, Dr Awad’s expected project outcomes include developing innovative methodology and building international collaborations to enhance national research capabilities. This will place Australia at the forefront of conceptually innovative discovery in the life sciences.

More than $6.25 million has been awarded to the 15 Monash researchers under the DECRA scheme, which provides focused research support for early career researchers in both teaching and research, and research-only positions.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Senior Vice-President Professor Rebekah Brown said: “This is great recognition of the excellent research these researchers are doing so early in their careers.”

“This investment allows them to build their career pathway and grow the impact of their research. The diverse range of projects across disciplines and faculties – and the real-world impact of these projects – shows that the future is bright for research at Monash.”

Read about each of the 15 Monash researchers who have been recognised with DECRAs from ARC.

A total of $83 million was distributed in the 2021 round. Read the full details on the ARC website.

Original article


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