Associate Directors of the Bio21 Institute Appointed

11 May 2017

Three new Associate Directors of the Bio21 Institute have been appointed:

Associate Director Engagement – Associate Professor Sally Gras

Associate Director Commercialisation – Professor Spencer Williams

Associate Director Platform Infrastructure  – Professor Malcolm McConville

Rather than research themes, these appointments have been made to align with operational needs and strategic directions of the Institute.

The Associate Directors will attend key steering committee meetings; be called upon to advise the Director on their portfolio areas; drive specific projects and work closely with professional staff members of the Bio21 Institute and the Platform Technology Managers and key stakeholders to achieve strategic goals.

Associate Professor Sally Gras

Associate Professor Sally Gras is Director of the ARC Dairy Innovation Hub which brings together three of Australia's leading dairy research groups - The University of Melbourne, The University of Queensland and Dairy Innovation Australia Ltd (DIAL) - in a five year research program co-funded by the Australian Research Council. The research program will engage more than 30 researchers to address some the major challenges identified as constraints to business growth and productivity in the dairy manufacturing sector.

Associate Professor Sally Gras is a Reader in The Department of Chemical Engineering, The School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at The University of Melbourne where she teaches Biochemical and Pharmaceutical Engineering.  She also leads a research group leader at Bio21.

She received her Ph.D. in protein misfolding from Cambridge University in the UK under the supervision of Dr Cait Macphee and Professor Chris Dobson and her B.Sc. (biochemistry and molecular biology) and B.Eng. (Chemical) degrees from The University of Melbourne.

Her research focuses on four themes: dairy science and engineering; functional foods and gut health; protein aggregation and materials; and waste water and environmental microbiology.

Sally brings key experience engaging with diverse stakeholders through the Dairy Innovation Hub to this role.

Professor Spencer Williams

Professor Spencer Williams obtained his BSc and PhD (under the supervision of Professor Bob Stick) at the University of Western Australia. Following receipt of his PhD in 1998, he was an Izaac Walton Killam Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Professor Stephen G Withers at the University of British Columbia, Canada, where he worked on glycosidase inhibitors. In 2000 he moved to the USA where he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation in the laboratory of Professor Carolyn Bertozzi. Spencer moved to Melbourne as a member of faculty in the School of Chemistry beginning July 2002. His current interests include the application of chemical synthesis, and in particular carbohydrate chemistry, to biological problems of relevance to human health and disease.
Spencer is the recipient of the Grimwade Prize for Industrial Chemistry; the Rennie Memorial Medal; and the David Syme Prize.
He has authored over 100 journal articles, and 10 patents, 6 book chapters, and a co-authored textbook, Carbohydrates: The essential molecules of life (by RV Stick and SJ Williams, 2009, Elsevier). He is a co-founder of Fibrotech Therapeutics (purchased by Shire in 2014) and OccuRx, and has worked closely with NeuProtect Pty Ltd, a Melbourne-based biotechnology company in the development of their lead compound NP202.

Spencer brings his experience commercialising his own research to this role.

Professor Malcolm McConville

Professor Malcolm McConville has had a long-standing interest in the metabolism of microbial pathogens with the view of identifying new drug targets. He received his PhD from the University of Melbourne and held post-doctoral fellowships at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and the University of Dundee, Scotland.

He moved his research group to the Department of Biochemistry in 1994 and since then has received substantial funding from the NHMRC, the Wellcome Trust, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is currently a Principal Research Fellow with the NHMRC and is involved in the establishment of the Metabolomics Australia hub in the Bio21 Institute.

Malcolm brings experience in establishing the Metabolomics Australia platform facility at the Bio21 Institute as well as planning the Stage 2B project of the Bio21 Institute, currently under construction.




The Associate Directors are highly-respected researchers with international reputations and leaders and long-standing members of the Bio21 Institute and will work with the Director to advance the goals of the Institute in improving health and the environment through innovation in molecular science and biotechnology, driven by multi-disciplinary research and dynamic interactions with industry.