Bio21 projects funded for discovery

Congratulations to Bio21 Institute researchers who have had their projects funded through the ARC Discovery Projects scheme for 2019.

Scheme Round Statistics for Approved Proposals - Discovery Projects 2019 round 1

Follow the link to the ARC website for the list of ARC Disovery Project recipients

Associate Professor Craig Hutton      Thioamide ligations: new technologies for peptide and protein synthesis. This project aims to develop novel amide-bond forming reactions for the chemical synthesis of peptides and proteins. New peptide ligation strategies, including an asparagine-based ligation and a residue-independent ligation will be developed that exploit the recent discovery of silver-promoted coupling reactions of thioamides. A novel late-stage, chemo-selective assembly of N-glycosylated asparagine residues in peptides and proteins will also be developed. The outcomes of this research will lead to breakthroughs in synthetic methodologies for the assembly and functionalisation of peptides and proteins, thereby enabling access to a range of homogeneous, post translationally modified proteins though total chemical synthesis. These research outcomes will expand Australia's research capability and global competitiveness in the field of biotechnology, delivering significant benefits to the third largest manufacturing sector in Australia. $420,000.00
Professor Gavin Reid; Associate Professor Oliver Sieber Photodissociation mass spectrometry for lipidome analysis. This project aims to develop and apply novel bioanalytical mass spectrometry-based methods and workflows to illuminate the otherwise hidden structural diversity and molecular complexity of the lipidome. The structure of individual lipids define their specific biological functions. A major requirement of analytical methods employed for lipid analysis on a lipidome-wide scale, therefore, is to enable the detailed structural characterisation of the, potentially, tens of thousands of individual molecular lipid species that may be present within a sample of interest. This project will develop and optimise novel, ultraviolet photodissociation-tandem mass spectrometry methods which will be integrated within an automated lipidome analysis workflow, to enable comprehensive global lipidome profiling and to reveal the structural diversity of lipids involved in fundamental cellular signalling processes. $410,000.00
Professor Jose Villadangos A novel link between metabolism and host defence. This project aims to delineate how a protein modification that consists of the addition of a small sugar to cellular proteins, known as O-GlcNAcylation, provides a link between metabolism and complex cell functions. The model for these studies is a cell type of the immune system known as dendritic cells. Upon encountering pathogens these cells undergo metabolic changes that increase the rate of O-GlcNAcylation of proteins involved in immune responses, altering their function. This project will study how O-GlcNAcylation works and is regulated. The project expects to develop new technology and provide high-level training, increasing the competitiveness of the strategic biotechnology sector in Australia $520,000.00
 Professor Ary Hoffmann Wolbachia endosymbionts: novel strain dynamics in Australian Drosophila. This project aims to understand Wolbachia infections across Australian Drosophila flies. Wolbachia bacteria that live inside the cells of insects and other invertebrates are widely seen as a promising tool for pest and disease control. This project will assess the population distribution, host phenotypic effects, population dynamics and evolutionary context of multiple Wolbachia infections across Australian Drosophila flies. The outcome will include new and novel strains for applied projects, new information on the fate of Wolbachia infections, and new insights into the factors that dictate the fate of Wolbachia infections across populations. $328,000.00
Professor Lloyd Hollenberg; Professor Frances Separovic; Dr Jean-Philippe Tetienne

Integrating quantum hyperpolarisation in nuclear magnetic resonance systems. This project aims to integrate quantum hyperpolarisation technology into state-of-the-art nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) systems, potentially boosting the signal by several orders of magnitude. Understanding the structure and function of membrane bound peptides and proteins in cells in their native environments is critical in drug development. However, studying these biomolecules by conventional NMR under ambient conditions is challenging due to sensitivity limitations. The technology developed by this project will be a significant step forward in NMR and the new science enabled may have far reaching consequences for the study of peptides and proteins of live cells for the development of new drugs and anti-biotics, with direct societal benefits and flow-on economic benefits.

Dr Justine Mintern; Associate Professor Howard Hang Trafficking inside the cell for effective immunity. This project aims to investigate how cargo is trafficked to the right destination inside cells. The project will investigate the trafficking routes and the critical machinery required. This project is expected to generate fundamental new knowledge in the areas of cell biology and immunology. Expected outcomes of this Project include scholarly publications and highly-trained personnel in cell biology and immunology. This project will provide significant benefits such as advances to fundamental knowledge, training for higher research degree students, opportunities for the biotechnology sector and strengthened international (research collaborations. $474,000.00
Associate Professor Michael Kearney; Professor Ary Hoffmann Environmental mismatch in invertebrate translocations for conservation. This project aims to use matchstick grasshoppers as a model system to develop strategies and protocols for maximising the adaptive potential of species when movement of individuals or genes is required. Biodiversity management increasingly requires translocation or targeted gene flow to maintain genetic diversity, raising the issue of disrupting local environmental adaptations. Matchstick grasshoppers are extremely well understood genetically, are highly amenable to experimental investigation, and include populations and species threatened by habitat destruction. This project will generate novel conservation tools for the focal species as well as empirical precedents for resolving the problem of environmental mismatch in translocation. $441,000.00
Professor Amanda Ellis; Professor Sally Gras DNA printing on a synthetic polymer template. This project aims to design and study DNA printing to manufacture long strands of DNA using simple but elegant fundamental non-enzymatic chemical reactions. Gene therapy is one of the most rapidly growing therapies in modern medicine but it is prohibitively expensive for the average person. Current methods of artificial gene synthesis are complicated with commercial DNA synthesis only supplying short DNA strands. The project outcomes will lead to a stable template directing the chemical reactions for DNA printing. This new approach will make life-saving gene therapy cheaper and more widely available for future generations and provide economic, and social benefits to all Australians. $372,000.00