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Biochemistry Fellowships for ECRS including our own Gabby Watson

Two early career researchers (ECRs) from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) have received Fellowships from the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), in recognition of their outstanding work in their field.

Congratulations to Dr Gabby Watson from the Rossjohn lab and Dr Chris Stubenrauch from the Lithgow lab.

Dr Gabby Watson’s postgraduate research utilised structural biology to design and characterise cyclic peptides targeted to an intracellular breast cancer protein, Grb7. This resulted in six publications, many as first-author, including two in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

She is currently investigating the complexities and specificities of ligand recognition by the inhibitory receptor CD96, an emerging target for cancer immunotherapy, with some of this research recently published in Structure.

This ASBMB Fellowship will enable Dr Watson to travel to Vienna, Austria, to present her latest research at the 32nd European Crystallographic Meeting.

“I am honoured to receive an ASBMB Fellowship, and grateful to have the opportunity to discuss our recent discoveries on CD96 ligand recognition with experts in the European crystallographic community,” Dr Watson said.

Original article

Jamie jointly awarded Royal Society of Victoria Medal for Excellence

Professor Jamie Rossjohn, Head of the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute’s (BDI) Infection and Immunity Program, has been awarded the distinguished Royal Society of Victoria’s (RSV) Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research in Category II: Biomedical and Health Sciences.

The Research Medal recognises peak research career achievements and outstanding leadership in research by scientists working in the State of Victoria.

Professor Rossjohn’s research is centred on understanding immunity – how it can be attuned to more effectively address diseases like the various forms of cancer, or potentially “switched off” to provide relief from allergies or the rejection of implants and transplants.

He is currently an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow (2017-2021) and was previously a NHMRC Australia Fellow (2011-2016) and ARC Federation Fellow (2007-11).

Professor Rossjohn was presented his Medal by Her Excellency, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, last night at the Royal Society of Victoria. He then gave a short talk on his field of enquiry.

RSV President David Zerman emphasised that the Medal is not just about discovery and innovation, but also about fostering and supporting a thriving research community and workforce to achieve collective impact.

“Some of this is demonstrated through a scholar’s personal output of journal articles and the related citations, or through patents and commercialisation, but it is also the research ecosystem that a leader supports through mentorship, collaboration and public engagement,” Mr Zerman said.

“We look very favourably on research leaders who bring effective teams together, and who actively promote younger scientists in particular, either through direct supervision, co-authorship of major papers, or simply creating opportunities for meaningful, purposeful work in an intensely competitive job market,” he said.

Professor Rossjohn is known for his contributions to the understanding the molecular basis underpinning immunity. He has used structural biology to explain pre-T-cell receptor (TCR) self-association in T-cell development, and how the TCR specifically recognises polymorphic Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) molecules in the context of viral immunity and aberrant T-cell reactivity. He has unearthed structural mechanisms of HLA polymorphism impacting on drug and food hypersensitivities, as well as Natural Killer cell receptor recognition. He has pioneered our molecular understanding of lipid-based immunity by T cells, revealing that it can differ fundamentally from peptide-mediated adaptive immunity. Recently he has provided a structural basis of how vitamin B metabolites can be presented and recognised by the immune system, revealing a new class of antigen. Collectively, he has published more than 365 papers and mentored numerous researchers towards obtaining higher degrees and nationally competitive fellowships.

Original article

This article is based on the announcement made by the Royal Society of Victoria.

Outstanding contribution to diversity and inclusion

The Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity and Inclusion Awards recognise students and staff who have made an outstanding contribution to supporting diversity and fostering inclusion at Monash. Recipients of these awards have gone above and beyond to further inclusion, connection and belonging for people from disadvantaged or marginalised groups.

The team behind the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI)Sensory Scientific Exhibit were recognised at the recent 2018 Vice Chancellor’s Diversity and Inclusion Awards.

The Sensory Science Exhibition was initially put together in May this year for a special event for members of the blind and low vision community, giving them the opportunity to explore the world of infection and immunity through a specifically designed, interactive exhibit.

Including a range of accessible activities and tactile displays, the exhibit highlights research areas such as vaccination, the evolution of flu viruses, and the process of how our bodies recognise pathogens.

There are plans to share the exhibit across Australia, starting by assisting the University of New South Wales in setting up their own sensory exhibit.

The team was also recognised for their work experience program, aimed at providing members of the blind and low vision community with an opportunity to get hands-on experience in a biomedical research laboratory. This program began when Professor Rossjohn put out the call for anyone interested in completing work experience in his lab at the inaugural Sensory Scientific Exhibition and Discovery Day earlier in the year. They have had one student complete the program, with more interested in doing so in 2019.

Congratulations to all Monash BDI recipients of the award:

  • Professor Jamie Rossjohn
  • Dr Gabrielle Watson
  • Professor Nicole La Gruta
  • Professor Ramesh Rajan
  • Dr Erica Tandori
  • Sabrina Constantin

This initiative exemplifies best practice both in developing teaching programs and experiential learning, and engaging with the wider community to encourage participation by a diverse range of people.

Original article

Sensory Scientific Showcase brings infection and immunity research to life for low vision community

Monash University recently opened its doors to the low vision community with an inaugural Sensory Scientific Exhibition and Discovery Day. Held on May 31 to coincide with the end of Macula Month, over 80 attendees had the opportunity to explore the world of immunity and infection through interactive exhibits specifically designed for a low or no vision audience.

This innovative event was conceived by Professor Jamie Rossjohn, ARC Australian Laureate Fellow and Head of the Immunity and Infection Program of the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI).  “I thought it would be great for us to take the time to talk about what we do and make sure that it’s completely accessible for people who are blind or have low vision,” said Professor Rossjohn.

Led by Professor Rossjohn and Dr Gabby Watson, researchers from the BDI Infection and Immunity created a range of accessible activities and displays to highlight their exciting research. Artist in residence, Dr Erica Tandori, collaborated with the Rossjohn lab to create a collection of tactile materials and models that detail aspects of vaccination, the evolution of flu viruses, and the process of how our bodies recognise pathogens.

From experiencing the different smells of microbes, using the lab tools of a superbug researcher and being immersed in the 360-degree CAVE 2, visitors took part in a range of discovery activities engaging the full range of senses.

Genie Lim bought her two young sons from Mount View Primary School to take part in the half-day event. “I’m so proud the university is making an effort to engage with the outside community” she commented.

“Events like this open up the university and my kids are now saying they want to come here! It’s really inspiring – we hope you run this every year.”

The enriching event was enjoyed by attendees of all ages, and the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute looks forward to expanding on the event’s success in the future.

Original article