School of Molecular Sciences

Molecular genetics

Molecular genetics is transforming medicine, agriculture and evolutionary biology.

Apoptosis and cancer signalling: Dr Bernard Callus
Our research focuses on the mechanisms of apoptosis (programmed cell death) as well as the signalling pathways that regulate apoptosis. Particular focus is given to how abnormal apoptotic signalling contributes to the development of liver cancer.
Bioinformatics and computational biology: Professor Michael Wise
Research in the Bioinformatics and Computation Biology Lab. boils down to the application of computational techniques to investigate biological questions. Current application domains include:
  • Bioinformatics of anhydrobiosis (species’ ability to survive with minimal water)
  • Microbial bioinformatics
  • Low complexity/natively unfolded proteins
  • Computational evolutionary biology
Cell Biology and Lactation: Dr Foteini Kakulas
During pregnancy and lactation, the mammary gland remodels into an organ capable of synthesising and secreting copious amounts of breastmilk to meet the nutritional, developmental and immunological needs of the infant. The Cell Biology team focuses on the maternal cells of breastmilk, including stem cells and immune cells, and their involvement in health and disease for both the breastfed infant and the lactating mother. The roles of breastmilk stem cells for the offspring and their potential use in regenerative medicine are also investigated, along with cellular components such as microRNAs.

In addition, the team uses molecular biology tools to understand the causes of cancer and develop novel non-invasive therapies for this disease, including examination of the anti-cancer properties of breastmilk

Cellular signalling and protein interaction: Dr Thomas Martin
We are interested in cellular signalling and how this impacts on plant development and function. Learning about this will help us to identify mechanisms by which plants can be improved to be for example drought, salt or stress resistant or to generate higher yields. These are desirable traits for plants growing under the harsh environmental conditions in Australia.
Computational biology and genomics for sustainable agriculture: Dr Laura Boykin
We are a group of scientists using genomics and supercomputing to help smallholder farmers around the globe.
We study insect pests, including whiteflies that are transmitting viruses leaving many resource-limited famers food insecure. We identify insect pests and viruses utilizing traditional sequencing methods and also next generation sequencing technologies.
Our ultimate goal is to provide solutions to farmers to increase food security by controlling pests and viruses.

Other lab group members: Mr James Wainaina and Solomon Maina
Mitochondrial Medicine and Biology: Aleksandra Filipovska
We investigate the genetic causes of diseases caused by mitochondrial dysfunction, analyse the molecular mechanisms that cause pathology in the diseases and develop therapeutics to combat mitochondrial dysfunction in disease.
Molecular evolution of photosynthetic pathways: Dr Martha Ludwig
Terrestrial plants are typically grouped according to the biochemical pathway they use to fix atmospheric CO2 into carbohydrates – the so-called C3 plants, which include crop species such as rice and wheat as well as nearly all trees; the C4 plants, which include highly productive crop plants like corn and sugarcane; and the Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) plants, which include cactuses, orchids and pineapple.
Nanobiotechnology: Professor Swaminatha Iyer
Nanobiotechnology is a branch of nanotechnology with biological and biochemical applications.
Our research explores the synthesis, characterisation and application of novel polymer based formulations for biomedical applications. Using surface chemistry on tailor polymers we aim to track and deliver payloads to image and improve the outcome in various medical emergencies.

Other lab group members: Dr Marck Norret, Dr Tristan Clemons
Plant Biology and Biochemistry: Dr Joshua Mylne
Plants have much more to offer us than solutions to our agricultural challenges. Plants provide an untapped resource of peptides and information relevant to human drugs.
Structural biology: Professor Charles Bond
Structural Biology research involves building a three-dimensional picture of biological molecules to shed light on the molecular interactions and events which drive many of the fundamental processes of life.

Investigations in my lab address proteins of relevance to human health, including nucleic acid processing proteins involved in regulating gene expression, and enzymes essential to the survival of life-threatening microbes, which may be drug targets. Recent research from the Bond lab has received media attention locally, nationally and internationally.
Synthetic Biology: Associate Professor Oliver Rackham
Synthetic biology is a burgeoning new field focused on designing and building new biomolecules, biological networks and systems for useful purposes. Our research focuses on re-engineering bacteria and yeast for use as microscopic drug factories, and the manipulation of mammalian gene expression.