Michael Parker

Biography

Professor Michael Parker is Director of the Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne and Head of Structural Biology, St. Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne. He is also an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Bio21. After obtaining his D. Phil. in protein crystallography from Oxford University, Michael returned to Australia to re-establish a protein crystallography laboratory at St. Vincent’s in 1991. The work of the laboratory is internationally recognised with the determination of more than 140 crystal structures of proteins involved in cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and infection. He has published over 300 papers and his work has been recognised with numerous awards including the 1999 Gottschalk Medal of the Australian Academy of Science, a 2006 Federation Fellowship from the Australian Research Council, the 2011 Lemberg Medal of the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the 2011 Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research, the 2012 Federation of Asian and Oceanian Biochemists and Molecular Biologists Award for Research Excellence and the 2016 Bob Robertson Award of the Australian Society for Biophysics for outstanding contributions to biophysics in Australia and New Zealand. He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2010 and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences in 2015. He is currently Chair of the National Committee of Crystallography under the auspices of the Australian Academy of Science.

Research

The focus of our research is to visualise the three-dimensional structures of medically important proteins using X-ray crystallography. A particular focus is proteins that play a role in infection (bacterial, parasitic or viral), cancer (particularly leukaemia, breast and prostate) and neurological diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's, Parkinsons). The structures provide a detailed understanding of how each protein works and how it contributes to disease. Most importantly, the structures can be used to discover drugs using computational and biophysical approaches. 

Structure-based drug discovery
Structural biology
X-ray crystallography
Cancer structural biology
Neurobiology structural biology
Infection structural biology

Techniques 

  • X-ray crystallography – crystallization robotics, X-ray generator/detector, Australian Synchrotron
  • Cryo electron microscopy
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy – fragment screening
  • Protein production – bacterial, insect and mammalian cell expression, chromatographic purifications, MALLS,
  • Biophysical QC – circular dichroism, dynamic light scattering
  • Biophysical binding studies – microscale thermophoresis, isothermal calorimetry, surface plasmon resonance (Biacore), differential scanning fluorimetry
  • Computational biology – molecular simulations, virtual screening, computational drug discovery and development
  • Electrophysiology - rig

Members

Group Leader

Professor Michael Parker

Senior Research Assistants

Gabriela Crespi (Senior Research Assistant)
Nancy Hancock (Senior Research Assistant)
Janelle San Juan (casual research assistant)

Postdoctoral Scientists

Belinda Michell - Lab Manager
Brett Bennetts 
Claire Weekley 
Craig Morton 
Jessica Holien 
Luke Miles 
Michelle Christie 
Mike Gorman 
Sophie Broughton 
Stefan Hermans 
Tracy Nero 
Urmi Dhagat 

PhD Students

Jasmina Markulic
Karen (Steffi) Cheung Tung Shing
Larissa Doughty
Bronte Johnstone

Honours Student

Brendan Stevenson