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New lab paper accepted FEBS J
Posted by: Joel ( 13 Oct., 2017 )

Mario's long journey to publish the carefully methodical work he and others have done on the inter-subunit interaction network within the NuRD complex has finally come to fruition as his paper is now accepted in FEBS J. We're quite fond of the paper because it makes a statement about the uncertain nature of pulldown experiments - especially those detected by western... Can be hard to publish papers like that - that make 'negative' comments on quite a large body of literature...Well done all! View it in all of its glory here.

Science in the swamp...
Posted by: Joel ( 13 Aug., 2017 )

As part of Science Week, Taylor, our outreach and media darling, has been demonstrating solar power (with robots of course) at the Science in the Swamp event, to an audience captivated small children... Note the "Nutty Scientists" tablecloth.

You don't often see horn players in bike shoes...
Posted by: Joel ( 7 July, 2017 )

...but Ann captured Joel playing at the Con a few weeks ago breaking that little-known but cardinal rule of jazz fashion.

Neil is done and dusted...
Posted by: Jacqui ( 7 July, 2017 )

...with that PhD thing. Congratulations to Neil who got completion letter this week letting him know that has satisfied the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Officially we can't call him Dr Neil until the actual graduation ceremony, but maybe we should get some practice in?

Chay wins a prize for her thesis!
Posted by: Joel ( 4 July, 2017 )

Chayenne Ghazi, who worked with us recently, was awarded a prize for the thesis that she presented based on her work here. The HAS-prize is annually awarded to students who produce excellent gradutation assignments at lab schools. It is named after the 'Haagse Analisten School' (Analysts Schools of The Hague). These schools are invited by letter to submit the 2 best graduation reports in the chemical/biological-medical directions, and from here the board makes their decision. Congratulations Chey!

Jason S ties the knot (in a sporren)
Posted by: Joel ( 12 June, 2017 )

Jason has jetted half way round the world to we his betrothed in St Andrews on a glorious spring day. He was resplendent in a kilt made from the MacSchmidberger tartan. What a dashing couple they made...!

Ana and Callum become parents. Again!
Posted by: Joel ( 30 May, 2017 )

Congratulations to Ana, Callum and Emma, who have just welcomed a new family member into the world - meet Elliot, everyone... Everyone is well!

Katschi's family portrait
Posted by: Joel ( 3 May, 2017 )

Neil, Katschi and new (March 2017) arrival Livvy pose for the camera...

Taylor's science communication career continues...
Posted by: Joel ( 19 April, 2017 )

As one of the organizers of the Sydney version of the International March for Science, which is being held on Earth Day (22 April), Taylor can now be seen on youtube promoting the event here. We're expecting her to have her own youtube channel soon...

Graduation 2017
Posted by: Joel ( 7 April, 2017 )

This April graduation saw Gabrielle, Matt and Anthony graduate with their Hons degrees, and saw Dorothy be awarded her PhD. Well done everyone - especially our newest PhD Dorothy!

Katschi becomes a mum!
Posted by: Joel ( 21 Mar., 2017 )

Katschi Bendak, formerly from Joel's lab and now working across at CCIA in Randwick, has taken a little time off to become a mum - and the result of her efforts is Olivia Marie Wilson, born on her due date (with German punctuality) of 15/03/17 at 51 cm and 3.4 kg. Katschi says she will finish off the draft of the paper she's working on with me over the next few weeks, once she's settled into a routine. Hands up if you think it might be delayed a little... :-) Congratulations Katschi (and Neil!).

Morgan's latest paper from chilly Dundee
Posted by: Joel ( 21 Mar., 2017 )

Morgan Gadd, ex-PhD student of Jacqui's, has just published a paper from his postdoc time with Alessio Cuilli - a nice piece of work where they examine one of their bi-functional bromodomain inhibitors and show that it forms a tight ternary complex with their small molecule and the other protein that it brings along with it when it binds the BD2 domain of BRD4. Read all about it.

Taylor takes to the radio
Posted by: Joel ( 13 Mar., 2017 )

As one of the organizers of the Sydney version of the International March for Science, which is being held on Earth Day (22 April), Taylor chatted to the Drive Show host Danny Chifley on 2SER last week, to tell him what it was all about - and answer curly questions about fluoride in the water... You can hear it here. March for Science is focused on trying to lead to evidence based decision making in politics (that sounds like a big ask!)...

Lab members take Lorne posters by storm
Posted by: Joel ( 10 Feb., 2017 )

Taylor, Mehdi and Athina all picked up prizes for their poster presentations at the Lorne Protein Conference this week. Poster prize success rate was overall about the same as the current NHMRC grant success rate, so a champion effort from them! No doubt they'll be buying the drinks for the rest of the lab...(and did I mention that the prize money goes into the lab consumables pool?)

Matthews lab members at the Thompson Prize event
Posted by: Flyp ( 30 Nov., 2016 )

The Sydney Protein Group's annual Thompson prize event was the other day, and Neil Robertson was one of the finalists. Despite giving a sterling talk, he didn't walk away with the gong. He did however pick up the ATA Scientific Lorne travel award, while Gabrielle McClymont won the Greg Ralston Memorial Lorne travel award. Go Matthews lab!

Scientists in Schools award for Joel
Posted by: Joel ( 24 Nov., 2016 )

The Principal's Network of inner west Sydney schools recently had their awards ceremony and Joel was presented with an award to recognize the long-term connection he has had with Strathfield North Public School through the CSIRO's Scientists in Schools program - Joel has been visiting the school (liaising with schoolteacher Filomena Catanzariti) to do science with primary age students for over 8 years.

Taylor wins her first Australian prize
Posted by: Joel ( 24 Nov., 2016 )

The School of Life and Environmental Sciences held its graduate research showcase recently, out at the Camden campus, and Taylor showed them how it was done, winning the prize for the best second year presentation. Nice work Taylor!

Joel awarded LabGear Discovery Science Award from ASBMB
Posted by: Joel ( 20 Oct., 2016 )

At the recent ComBio conference in Brisbane, Joel was presented with theLabGear Discovery Science Award - which is given for distinguished contributions to the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. You can read about the award here and see the citation here.

Kaavya wins Fellowship
Posted by: Joel ( 17 Oct., 2016 )

Kaavya Krishna Kumar - a former student with Dave Gell and Joel - has just been awarded an Americal Diabetes Association fellowship to continue her work in the lab of Brian Kobilka at Stanford, where she is hammering away at the structures of membrane proteins (very brave!). Congratulations Kaavya!

Collaborative paper with Daniel Ryan at ANU comes out in JMB
Posted by: Joel ( 13 Oct., 2016 )

Biswa, Steph and Ana can show off their latest paper now, which has come out in J Mol Biol. The paper describes the NMR structure of a domain that Daniel discovered in the chromatin remodeller CHD1 - from some careful analysis of sequence conservation - lots to be learned from doing that sort of thing I always think... You can admire it online here. Now, we just have to figure out what it *does*!

Joel wins Oz Rogaining Champs
Posted by: Joel ( 72 Sept., 2016 )

Last weekend, Joel headed over to WA with rogaining companion Gill Fowler to compete in the Australian Rogaining Championships - a 24-h navigation event set in a mixture of farm and bushland near Nannup. After about 100 km of running/hiking over 24-h, Joel and Gill were pleasantly surprised to pick up the trophy for the mixed team category [results here]. Stoked!

Neil's paper accepted at Ang. Chemie
Posted by: Joel ( 22 Sept., 2016 )

Congratulations to Neil, who has just had a paper accepted by Angewandte Chemie that describes his elegant FRET-based binding assays. It is available online here (or at Pubmed here) or if you prefer your science in German, here. Herzliche Glückwünsche, Neil!

Back-to-back reviews from the lab in Curr. Opin. Struct. Biol.
Posted by: Joel ( 21 Sept., 2016 )

We were lucky enough to have two reviews in the most recent issue of Current Opinions in Structural Biology - in the "Sequences and topology" section. Ngaio and Jacqui told the world about Mechanisms of DNA-binding specificity and functional gene regulation by transcription factors, while Joel and Steph recruited the help of Charlie Bond and Amanda Blythe to wax lyrical about the Determinants of affinity and specificity in RNA-binding proteins. To cap it off, Amanda's image of RNA-protein hydrogel assembly was featured on the cover of the journal. A good outcome for all!

Mackay lab science on Triple J and the ABC
Posted by: Joel ( 9 Aug, 2016 )

Our recent paper in JBC on the role of CHD4 in the NuRD complex was picked up by the ANU media office because of Daniel's involvement in the paper. They put together a media release - here - and it was picked up by several news outlets. Daniel was interviewed and there were items on the radio news on several stations. Fame and fortune should follow soon!

A new visitor to the lab arrives from Tabriz in Iran
Posted by: Joel ( 30 June, 2016 )

We have a new visiting lab member - Hakimeh is a PhD student with Siavoush Dastmalchi at the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran and has joined us for 6 months to try to collect some structural and binding data on a zinc-finger transcription factor with a twist. Welcome to Hakimeh!

Dorothy's paper accepted at NAR
Posted by: Joel ( 30 June, 2016 )

Dorothy has had a pretty painless first foray into the world of publishing papers with her paper on the RNA-binding properties of the transcription factor YY1 being accepted at Nucleic Acids Research. We were very pleased with the outcome given that we weren't trumpeting sequence-specific binding with high affinity, but rather low specificity and moderate affinity binding... Congratulate her if you see her!

Lab Hyams beach trip all done
Posted by: Joel ( 31 May, 2016 )

The annual pilgrimage to Hyams Beach has been and gone - perfect weather and we didn't even get told off for being too noisy! Photos here.

Our latest CHD4 work makes it into JBC
Posted by: Joel ( 28 May, 2016 )

Well, this one wasn't *quite* as straightforward as the Protein Science paper I mentioned recently, but in the end the reviewers *did* actually improve the paper I think. You can read about the efforts of Jason (L), Sarah, Ana, Hinnerk, Mario, Mattias and Nick - with able assistance from Daniel in Canberra and Ben Parker - when you discover that CHD4 is a Peripheral Component of the Nucleosome Remodeling and Deacetylase Complex.

Our first EM data published in Protein Science
Posted by: Joel ( 2 May, 2016 )

Whew! It was quite a roller coaster ride to this paper. After seeing an abstract by John Schwabe's group in Leicester that covered work very similar to what we've been hammering away at for a while, we scrambled to get a paper prepared and submitted. During the process, I contacted a number of journals and asked them what their policy was if a paper we had under review with them was scooped (in another journal) during the review process. There was a range of responses (interestingly, it's not specified on many journal websites), but Protein Science said they'd ignore anything that comes out during the review process, so we went with them. It was a great journal experience (and heaven knows one doesn't always have those) and the paper was accepted within a couple of days with a few minor changes - record turnaround! I can say with confidence that I'll be going back to Protein Science, given the service and informed dialogue we had with them. So, if you want to read about our findings that The MTA1 subunit of the Nucleosome Remodeling and Deacetylase complex can recruit two copies of RBBP4/7, read on...

Bye bye Chay! - and hello Ninnie
Posted by: Joel ( 12 March, 2016 )

Today we said bon voyage (or perhaps veilige reis) to Chayenne - our Dutch intern who has been with us for the last year. I'm pretty sure she qualified as the youngest person we have had in the lab, and she became an integral part of the Mackay lab while she was here... Apparently we might have convinced her to go back and study structural biology now - so that was a job well done! Don't forget us down here Chay!

Ninnie Wybrands has turned up just at the right time to fill that space in the lab though, so we're looking forward to having her with us for the next 5 months.

Ana's CHD4 paper comes out
Posted by: Joel ( Jan, 2016 )

Ana's paper describing the structure of a slightly cryptic domain from CHD4 has come out in JBC. Check out the paper here or check out the structure here. As you can see here, it looks sort of like an HMG-box domain (CHD4 is in red - HMG-box domains are in grey). HMG-box domains bind to DNA - sometimes to unusual structures... Seems like it might be involved in binding to PAR at sites of DNA damage, although that's not set in stone at this stage...

Ivan hands in!!
Posted by: Joel ( 14 Dec, 2015 )

In a momentous occasion - for both Jacqui and Ivan - Ivan has handed in his PhD thesis. It was a mission, but it is a mission that has been completed!

Roland lands a job!
Posted by: Joel ( 4 Dec, 2015 )

Roland - postdoc in the lab from 2006 till 2011 - has landed himself a Level B academic position in the School of Science and Health at Western Sydney University. He and Liza will make a great wife-and-husband team as they continue to build their lab together out at WSU. Fantastic news Roland - definitely a champagne occasion!

In other SPG news...
Posted by: Joel ( 27 Nov, 2015 )

...Athina has been awarded the SPG's Greg Ralston Prize, which will cover her costs for attending the Lorne Protein Conference in Feb 2016 - congratulations Athina!

Just call him "Mr Secretary"
Posted by: Joel ( 27 Nov, 2015 )

In a landslide victory (actually, I have no idea how the voting went) Jason Low has been elected by the people as the new secretary of the Sydney Protein Group - carrying the flag for the lab in its long association with the society [SPG website]. He'll have to get his shorthand up and running again, no doubt...

Ana's paper comes out in JBC
Posted by: Joel ( 16 Nov, 2015 )

Even though Ana is currently focusing mostly on more important matters, she has managed to get her second first-author paper from the lab published. You can check it out here.

ARC grant success
Posted by: Joel ( 9 Nov, 2015 )

Joel - working with Dave Segal from UC Davis - was lucky enough to pick up an ARC Discovery Project grant in the 2015 round to explore the creation of designer epigenetic regulators. Should be interesting...

Sarah is now officially Dr Sarah.
Posted by: Joel ( 25 Sept, 2015 )

The final hurdle has been leapt! Sarah graduated with no mishaps (other than getting her shoe heel caught in a grating and nearly having to go up on stage in bare feet...) and can return to her postdoctoral position at the Crick Institute in London wearing her PhD gown and hood...

Ana's lab baby update...
Posted by: Joel ( 24 Aug, 2015 )

Congratulations to Ana and Callum. Ana obviously felt left out of the baby congratulations wave and so decided to have her baby a week early! Emma Silva Smits was born yesterday morning at 10.18 am and was 48 cm tall, weighing 3.06 kg (although no confidence intervals were reported for those measurements so I'm not sure about the precision). Both Emma and Ana are doing well (and are processing single particle EM data).

Welcome to new lab members - Mehdi, Jason (aka. Alex) and Taylor
Posted by: Joel ( 19 Aug, 2015 )

We have three people joining Joel's lab in one week this week. First up, we have Mehdi Sharifitabar who hails from Iran and is starting his PhD. Taylor Szyszka (whose surname would surely win you a game of Scrabble if you could only spell it) is also a new PhD student - fresh from her degree at U Arizona. Finally Dr Jason Schmidberger wings his way to us from postdoctoral stints in Europe and will be our new resident crystallographer. In good lab tradition, we will immediately retrain him in something else, but he'll still be around to help you with your crystallography stuff. Please introduce yourself to them if you see them around.

GATA1-DNA structure published
Posted by: Joel ( 19 Aug, 2015 )

The long-awaited structure of the double ZF of GATA1 bound to DNA - a pseudopalindromic site - has come out [Pubmed or PDF via journal] in Protein Science, thanks to the work of Lorna (including some *very* funky multi-coloured gel shifts), Krystal and Nina - and of course the inimitable David Jacques and Mitchell. Their work puts a dampener on the idea that GATA-1 might mediate DNA looping by having one ZF bind to a local site and the other to a distant site - which is just as well, otherwise Ldb1 would be left feeling redundant.

...still they keep coming!
Posted by: Joel ( 5 Aug, 2015 )

What can we say - the lab is clearly a fertile place...Born August 2 (very early in the morning) in Hong Kong. Congratulations to Eija and Niko.

Two babies in one day?!
Posted by: Joel ( 21 July, 2015 )

I think I can safely say that this is the first time we have had two 'lab babies' delivered on the same day... Raina Wong (PhD 2005) is now the proud mother of baby Alana.

Even better than a poster prize...
Posted by: Joel ( 21 July, 2015 )

All right - I suppose this is bigger news than the poster prize - Jason is now the proud father of young Jason Low Jr (at least I'm assuming that's his name) - although you can see that he clearly wasn't very interested in the details of the Gibson cloning protocol that Jason was trying to describe to him. Congratulations Jason and Mel!

Jason wins a poster prize!
Posted by: Joel ( 20 July, 2015 )

Jason attended the Bosch Institute Annual Scientific and Young Investigator's Meeting last week and walked away with the Genesearch Prize for an outstanding poster presentation. His poster title was 'What's in a NuRD? Strategies to elucidate the structure of multi-subunit complexes'. Well done that man! We're thinking of putting the prize money towards a new PCR machine - what do you think, Jason?

Ana and Callum tie the knot
Posted by: Joel ( 12 May, 2015 )

Ana headed off to Vanuatu last week with Callum, her betrothed, and made it all official in a ceremony that was fortunately *not* interrupted by a Category 5 hurricane (which is a shame, because then I could have made a crack about a whirlwind romance). Vanuatu was the compromise location between Portugal and New Zealand. Not a bad place for a compromise. Congratulations to the two of them!

Mitchell shows his eye for a photo...
Posted by: Joel ( 4 May, 2015 )

Fantastic photo of the moon setting over Sydney in the morning.

Almost a lab baby...
Posted by: Joel ( 4 May, 2015 )

Nick Shepherd, who recently relocated from Sydney to Melbourne, has just become the proud father of Leo Saska Shepherd. Mother Ivana and baby Leo are doing just fine and Nick is learning some new skills to go with the ones he has in the lab...Congratulations Nick!

Mitch honoured by ASBMB
Posted by: Joel ( 14 April, 2015 )

Mitch O'Connell, who handed in his PhD in 2013 and then headed off to Berkeley to work with Jennifer Doudna, has won the Boomerang Award from ASBMB, which is presented to a young expat Aussie to allow them to come back to attend ComBio and to give a talk in one of the symposium sessions. Mitch has also lined himself up to give a few seminars while he's back, so keep an eye out for him. Congrats Mitch!

Wilfred is off to the Big Apple
Posted by: Joel ( 10 April, 2015 )

Wilfred Leung, who did Hons with Joel in 2007 and has since then sampled both Vet School and medical research, has won a PhD place at Cornell in New York (not quite the Big Apple, but a stone's throw from it), starting this August. Hard to get these places, so it was a great effort - looking forward to hearing how he goes over there!

Jason and Mel are starting their own group
Posted by: Joel ( 25 March, 2015 )

In July, Jason and Mel will become proud first-time parents, with all the joy and sleeplessness that that entails! Make sure you congratulate or comiserate with them...

Neil's Lorne's success
Posted by: Joel ( 19 Feb, 2015 )

Neil nabbed one of the poster prizes at this year's Lorne Protein Conference. Might have even been just about the only NSW poster prize from the 20 they announced! Well done Neil! Your shout, I reckon.

Joel 'appears' on the radio...
Posted by: Joel ( 19 Feb, 2015 )

...talking to ABC702 (which I know you all listen to) to explain the sport of rogaining. Of course, it was at 6:10 am on a Saturday morning, so not many of you might have heard it. Because I know you'll be gutted to have missed it, you can listen to it here (~13 min)!

Jason wins talk prize
Posted by: Joel ( 13 Nov, 2014 )

Jason gave a talk on his NuRD complex work at the recent "Proteomics and beyond" symposium hosted by APAF at Macquarie University and, in his first conference oral presentation, impressed the judges enough to be awarded the prize for best talk. Sterling effort Jason - and of course you know that all prize monies go into the lab kitty, right...?

New lab baby!
Posted by: Joel ( 23 Oct, 2014 )

Thilo and Vanessa, living in Basel, have just become the proud parents of baby Quinn (hopefully not named after the slightly dodgy detective in Dexter). Congratulations to both of them! I'm trying to think how many that is now. If we don't count Kate and Richard Grant because they had their two girls already when they arrived, and we only count babies for who *both* parents were in the lab... - it might only be the fourth after Daniel and Belinda's two contributions and Roland and Liza's one...

Mitchell hits the big time in Berkeley
Posted by: Joel ( 3 Oct, 2014 )

Mitchell O'Connell, who completed his PhD with Joel in 2013 has had a taste of success in the US with a first-author paper in Nature on work that he spearheaded in his postdoctoral position with Prof Jennifer Doudna in the Dept of Molecular and Cell Biology at Berkeley Science Minister's Prize. The paper follows an idea that Mitch had to adapt the Crispr/Cas9 system - the recently described protein family that has hit headlines as a programmable DNA-binding protein system for genome engineering - for the addressable recognition of RNA.

Jacqui invited to speak at the triennial GATA meeting in 2015
Posted by: Joel ( 25 July, 2014 )

In the latest of a recent glut of international speaking invitations (Gordon Conference in the US and the Prague Spring Meeting being the most recent), Jacqui has been invited to speak at the GATA meeting, which will be held next year on the island of Kos in Greece. Nice for some!

Marylène's paper on designer RNA-binding proteins has been accepted in Angew. Chem.
Posted by: Jacqui ( 1 May, 2014 )

Slightly too late to allow us to celebrate with her, but a good belated going-away present nonetheless. Steph and Mitch also put in plenty of work and several other people in the lab were involved too... The full citation is:
Engineering Specificity Changes on a RanBP2 Zinc Finger that binds single-stranded RNA Marylène Vandevenne, Mitchell R. O'Connell, Stephanie Helder, Nicholas E. Shepherd, Jacqueline M. Matthews, Ann H. Kwan, David J. Segal, and Joel P. Mackay* (2014) Angew. Chem. in press. Yay!

Soumya is given the nod
Posted by: Jacqui ( 1 May, 2014 )

The official word has come through that Soumya has now qualified for her PhD degree. Graduation will no doubt follow soon, but you can practise calling her Dr Joseph in the meantime... Congratulations Soumya!

Jason gets hitched
Posted by: Joel ( 3 April, 2014 )

Recently, Jason tied the knot with Dr Melissa Erce in a ceremony in Pymble that was followed by a splendid and intricately organized reception at the Sergeant's Mess at Chowder Bay. Both events were attended by a number of lab members - but for those of you who weren't there, here is the happy couple! We hope they can settle down and start a nice collection of high-impact papers together...

Gracing the cover of JBC...
Posted by: Joel ( 13 March, 2014 )

Dave Gell's latest paper, on which Mitchell and Joel made a small contribution, has been featured on the cover of JBC. The paper, which is built on fantastic work by Claire Dickson, Kaavya Krishna Kumar and David Jacques, shows the structure of a bacterial iron acquisition protein bound to mammalian hemoglobin. You can see very nicely from the structure how the heme is probably plucked out of the Hb by the bacterial protein. [Bigger version of pic]

J Biol Chem (2014) ePub ahead of print.
Structure of the Hemoglobin-IsdH Complex Reveals the Molecular Basis of Iron Capture by Staphylococcus aureus.
Dickson CF, Krishna Kumar K, Jacques DA, Malmirchegini GR, Spirig T, Mackay JP, Clubb RT, Guss JM, Gell DA.

Staphylococcus aureus causes life-threatening disease in humans. The S. aureus surface protein IsdH binds to mammalian hemoglobin (Hb) and extracts heme as a source of iron, which is an essential nutrient for the bacteria. However, the process of heme transfer from Hb is poorly understood. We have determined the structure of IsdH bound to human Hb by X-ray crystallography at 4.2 A resolution, revealing the structural basis for heme transfer. One IsdH molecule is bound to each alpha dna beta Hb subunit, suggesting that the receptor acquires iron from both chains by a similar mechanism. Remarkably, the two near iron transporter (NEAT) domains of IsdH perform very different functions. The N-terminal NEAT domain binds alpha/beta globin through a site distant from the globin heme pocket and, via an intervening structural domain, positions the C-terminal heme-binding NEAT domain perfectly for heme transfer. These data, together with a 2.3-A resolution crystal structure of the isolated N-terminal domain bound to Hb and small-angle X-ray scattering of free IsdH, reveal how multiple domains of IsdH cooperate to strip heme from Hb. Many bacterial pathogens obtain iron from human hemoglobin using proteins that contain multiple NEAT domains, and other domains whose functions are poorly understood. Our results suggest that, rather than acting as isolated units, NEAT domains may be integrated into higher order architectures that employ multiple interaction interfaces to efficiently extract heme from host proteins.

Latest lab paper
Posted by: Joel ( 20 Jan, 2014 )

A small invited commentary in J Mol Biol on non-specific DNA-binding proteins...

NHMRC, ARC and Cancer Council success
Posted by: Joel ( 30 Oct 2013 )

The lab was lucky enough to pick up a few grants in this year's annual funding bunfight. Joel was awarded an NHMRC grant with Tom Gonda and Dave Segal aimed at looking at the nucleic-acid binding properties of human transcription factors and a second one (with Nick Shepherd and Daniel Ryan) to examine the structure and interactions that make up a large chromatin remodeling complex. He was also able to renew his NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship. Jacqui was awarded an ARC grant to look at LIM homeodomain proteins and a Cancer Council NSW grant to develop inhibitors of LMO4. Hopefully these will keep us in pipette tips for 2014...

Joel advances to high school
Posted by: Joel ( 21 Oct 2013 )

Last week, Joel responded to a request from the science department at Ascham School in Edgecliff to visit and give a talk on protein folding - the same talk that he gave at MLC in Burwood a few months ago. Joel is talking with the teachers about additional involvement in their science curriculum over the summer break and in 2014.

Joel goes back to primary school (again).
Posted by: Joel ( 15 Oct 2013 )

Joel has been involved with the CSIRO's Scientists in Schools program for 5 or so years now, and recently visited his long-term partner school - Strathfield North Public School - spending 2 days with the year 5 and 6 students teaching them about the principles of electromagnetism and giving them the chance to make an electromagnetic motor themselves from basic materials. It's a great program - he would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wanted to help raise science literacy in schools.

Flyp and Lorna's ECPM success
Posted by: Joel ( 7 Aug 2013 )

At the recent East Coast Protein Meeting, Philippa won the ComBio award based on her talk and CV - entitling her to travel to ComBio in Perth this year to present her work to a wider audience. At the same time, Lorna picked up the postdoc poster prize for describing her recent work, so Jacqui's group had a successful outing overall!

Saad hands in!
Posted by: Joel ( 1 July 2013 )

Saad has just summited that seemingly gargantuan mountain of thesis writing and handed in a very nice looking PhD thesis on interactions within his favourite protein complex. Now, time to take a breather and try to remind his family what he looks like! Well done Saad - top effort!

A blast from the past...
Posted by: Joel ( 27 May 2013 )

Look what turned up in a lab cleanup a little while ago. What is the probability of finding a gel that has lanes on it from both Jacqui *and* Joel being at the bench at the same time?!?! See it with your own eyes! I would note that the lanes with the best expression were mine...

Lab retreat done and dusted for 2013
Posted by: Joel ( 14 May 2013 )

The annual lab retreat to Hyam's Beach (whitest sand in the world - and possibly the squeakiest too) went off without any significant hitches last weekend. Fantastic weather, and we even had some intrepid cyclists transporting themselves the 30 km from Nowra to Hyam's, most likely to work up a thirst. Michael has kindly gathered together the weekend's top quotes (which I have edited for taste):

  1. Masterchef has definitely been missing the pure genius of simply slopping some ice cream on some crumpets.
  2. For some reason there is something about rolling two little pigs like dice that makes me feel unethical.
  3. I can definitely look past the racist undertones of this game.
  4. There is so much fat on this bbq I'll need to mouth pipette it clean.
  5. No need for a monocle? I don't think you realise just how wealthy I am.
  6. No need for sunglasses? I don't think you realise what kind of sheriff I am.
  7. And now for the clue...
  8. Whip it out.
  9. This particular cubic typically ends in the phallic zone.
  10. When it comes to tequila, guide your tongue straight and true.
  11. Eskimo hysteria?
  12. Part of me is still hoping that Alexei will jump out of those bushes the way he used to.
  13. I tentatively accept your offer of love.
  14. Does Hinnerk know how to Frisbee? I'm not sure... but back home they call him Mr Frisbee.
  15. And the scores: Dorothy 96, Michael 57, Callum 52 and Neil... sucks.
  16. It seems Joel has done this bullshiting business before.
  17. Only Callum could have known the truth about the dwarves.
  18. That man is the loose cannon of bangs.
  19. Asleep I presume. She looked at the world this morning and didn't like what she saw.
  20. I'll just knock on a few doors, and if I don't know the people I'll just tell them something about Jesus.
  21. In hindsight I probably should have spent some of my millions of dollars preventing Herman from winning the game.
  22. At least I lost happily and wealthily.
  23. And just like that he went from hoot to brute.
  24. I had a sleep in: as you do on a Sunday (said upon waking late on Saturday).
  25. If it is time to leave, I'm going to need a wheelbarrow. Or a body bag.
Photos to follow soon...
Another boy off to Blighty
Posted by: Joel ( 27 Mar 2013 )

Morgan has fared us well now and headed off to the UK to work with Alessio Ciulli, who works on the structural biology of protein-protein interactions (sounds familiar!) and who is in the process of moving from Cambridge to Dundee. I hope Morgan has packed his winter sporren..

Flyp's latest paper is out...
Posted by: Joel ( 27 Mar 2013 )

Congrats Flyp (and Chu Wai and Ann and others...!): Stokes et al., (2013) Structural Basis of the Interaction of the Breast Cancer Oncogene LMO4 with the Tumour Suppressor CtIP/RBBP8 J Mol Biol 425, 1101-10.

Posted by: Joel ( 21 Feb 2013 )

Sarah has some *very* exciting data from her new project - but it's top secret, so you'll have to go and ask her about it yourself...(or look at the picture on the board - and *then* ask her).

Boys bound for Blighty
Posted by: Joel ( 20 Feb 2013 )

Herman and Michael have both succeeded in their quest to leave southern climes for PhDs in the UK. Herman has been awarded a Wellcome Fellowship to fund his PhD at the University of York with Fred Antson,, starting later this year. Michael won a scholarship to fund his PhD at the most famous molecular biology institute in the world - the LMB in Cambridge - where he will get stuck into some structural biology too - working with Lori Passmore. Lori has worked with Nobel Laureate Venki Ramakrishnan, so he will be a Nobel grandchild...

A good-value Hons project!
Posted by: Jacqui ( 20 Feb 2013 )

Herman won a poster prize at the recent Lorne Protein Conference for his dehalogenase work. He must be getting sick of winning them by now, surely.

Katschi gets the final go-ahead
Posted by: Joel ( 10 Jan 2013 )

Katschi has had the final stamp of approval on her PhD thesis, and will be handing in the absolutely final, bound and authorized copy this week, crossing her fingers to make the April graduation. I'm guessing she's quite pleased about that...

Herman is a winner too!
Posted by: Joel ( 11 Dec 2012 )

In a symbolic event for our historically NMR-focused lab, Herman has won a poster prize at the Asian Crystallography Conference that was held in Adelaide last week. The meeting also featured the Bragg Symposium commemorating the contribution made by the Adelaide-raised Braggs to crystallography. Herman's poster was entitled "Haloalkane dehalogenase of Mycobacterium rhodesiae JS60". Good stuff Herman!

Morgan wins the SPG Thompson Prize!
Posted by: Joel ( 29 Nov 2012 )

Tonight, the Sydney Protein Group had their annual Thompson Prize event, pitting PhD students from around the region against each other in 10-minute talks. We had Mitch and Morgan going head to head with students from a range of places, and in a tough context Morgan took out the prize for his talk about the crystal structure he has recently solved. Champion work Morgan (and commiserations Mitch!). At the same meeting, Herman was awarded one of the SPG's Lorne travel scholarships, which should get him to Victoria and back.

Review from lab accepted at Nature Reviews Cancer
Posted by: Joel ( 29 Nov 2012 )

Hooray - Jacqui, Krystal and Soumya have just had a review accepted in Nature Reviews Cancer on the involvement of LMO proteins in cancer. Good timing with grant (and fellowship) season around the corner...!

Graduation fever
Posted by: Joel ( 9 Nov 2012 )

Tonight, the Sydney Protein Group had their annual Thompson Prize event, pitting PhD students from around the region against each other in 10-minute talks. We had Mitch and Morgan going head to head with students from a range of places, and in a tough context Morgan took out the prize for his talk about the crystal structure he has recently solved. Champion work Morgan (and commiserations Mitch!).

Scientists in Schools
Posted by: Joel ( 13 August 2012 )

Joel has been involved in the CSIRO Scientists in Schools program for a few years now, visiting a local primary school (Strathfield North Public School) once or twice a year to do a day of science with a bunch of the students (usually about 150 in a day in three lots). They do experiments like making electric motors, using levers and pulleys and purifying their own DNA. Recently, the school magazine discussed the visit by Joel (and Mitchell and Ann) in July:

Science Week August 11-18

A feature of our science programs is our association with Dr Joel Mackay who works at Sydney University and is part of the CSIRO national program that creates and supports long-term partnerships between teachers and scientists. Partnerships are flexible to allow for a style and level of involvement that suits each participant. Dr Joel Mackay has been visiting the school for about four years and is always welcomed by our students with great excitement.

During Dr Mackay's visit last term he worked with Stage 2. Thank you to Mr Steven So, one of our parents and a Science Head Teacher at Strathfield South High who kindly loaned Stage 2 all kinds of science equipment. I would like to acknowledge the work of Ms Cantanzariti who initiated the program and continues to act as the liaison person. After a recent visit Naomi from 4H wrote this creative piece. It is my pleasure to share it with you. It highlights the links between motivation, literacy and science. Congratulations on your fine effort Naomi.

Science Day

Once upon a time there was a girl named Naomi. She went to school at SNPS in Sydney. NaomiOne day she arose from her bed and prepared herself for school as usual, but once she got to school the classroom was filled with telescopes and testing tubes and all "sciency stuff". The two scientists were standing at the front of the room. They introduced themselves, "I'm Joel Mackay and this is my assistant Mitchell. Today we will be working with you on discovering your DNA." It started off with Joel showing us a slide show about science and DNA and genes that are unique to us. Naomi was really interested by all of the information, but not as much as the experiment that was about to happen!

Mitchell assisted the students in finding their own DNA! They used a pipette to squirt two drops of Gatorade. Then they swished it around their mouths for about one minute. The girl across the desk from Naomi was Claudia who was too scared to drink the Gatorade, but in the end she drank it! The students then had to spit it back into a test tube. Into the test tube was added two squirts of detergent and it was mixed around gently, but Naomi did it too roughly and quickly, that she had to fix it up. Then, Naomi and the rest of the table added a cold mentholated spirit sort-of-substance and made sure it didn't mix. Some cloudy white strands started showing up, which was their DNA! The students picked it out using a skewer and placed it in a small container. Naomi didn't get much! She took it home and told her parents about it. Her parents were very impressed that something so fascinating had occurred and that Naomi's DNA was unlike any other persons.

Naomi G 4H
Marylène wins SPG ECR Prize
Posted by: Joel ( 8 August 2012 )

This one slipped through the news net - apologies for that Marylène... On 15 June, the Sydney Protein Group had an Early Career Researcher event in which six speakers (including Marylène and Ana) vied for the opportunity to get a guaranteed speaking slot at the upcoming ComBio conference in Adelaide. After a series of high-quality talks, the judges awarded the prize to Marylène for her talk on the DNA-binding properties of ZNF217. Now she is packing her bags for Adelaide (well, not quite yet, but you get what I mean) - congratulations Marlène!

Cuong hands in his thesis - for good!
Posted by: Joel ( 3 August 2012 )

A huge collective sigh of relief was heard from the Nguyen household the other day when Cuong finished his thesis corrections and handed in the final copy of his thesis to the University! All three of his examiners' reports were excellent - commenting how well written and error-free the thesis was - and the corrections were very minor. Great timing - now he can make his move to UNSW (where he will be postdocing with Paul Curmi) with the thesis all dealt with and squared away. Congratulations Cuong!

Katschi's done it!
Posted by: Joel ( 3 August 2012 )

The other day Katschi did that momentous deed - handing in her PhD thesis. Yay! No more staying up all night (unless she wants to of course)... Well done Katschi - fantastic effort!!

Saad's new heir
Posted by: Joel ( 23 July 2012 )

In case you were thinking that Saad had been a bit distracted lately or were wondering why he wasn't here today, I can show you the reason - meet Sami! I can see the resemblence... All set for a busy next six months on all fronts now!

Mitchell's amateur astronomy effort
Posted by: Joel ( 6 June 2012 )

Mitchell, one of our resident crystallographers and amateur astronomers, was on the ball this morning and managed to cunningly capture the transit of Venus using his binoculars and a white surface - cool. As he noted, it was probably the last time he was going to see it in his lifetime (but you never know)...

Paul insisted I put this up...
Posted by: Joel ( 3 June 2012 )

A surreptitious recording of an effort from our first jam yesterday with a 4-member ensemble - Paul on bass, Mitch on drums, Elissa Liew from Micro on keyboard (she sounds great here!) and yours truly on the tenor sax (and sounding a bit thin). [listen]. Felt great to play as a group - now we just need Flyp's trombone...

We are slowly turning Ana from the dark side...
Posted by: Joel ( 1 June 2012 )

Ana recorded her first 15N-HSQC today - and it was a ripper! Who needs those fiddly crystal things...? We will have her writing pulse programs by the end of the year...

Tom's Cambridge fundraising is going well...
Posted by: Joel ( 1 June 2012 )

Tom - Jacqui's 2011 Bsc Hons student - has just won a University of Sydney Scholarship to pay part of his costs for doing a PhD at Cambridge (the UK one - not the rural sheep farming place in the North Island of NZ) - hopefully with one more lamington drive, he will be set to go!

A bumper week for papers
Posted by: Joel ( 1 June 2012 )

Jacqui has had a good couple of weeks, with 3 papers getting accepted or reviews that indicate only minor revisions are required - that backlog of papers is getting slowly but steadily cleared!

May graduation photos up
Posted by: Joel ( 25 May 2012 )

Self explanatory really [photos].

Michael's quotable quotes from the lab retreat
Posted by: Joel ( 7 May 2012 )

How he remembered them, I don't know - was he wearing a wire?
1. "Suck it up, princess." (with the appropriate accent)
2. "You're in for a flaming sausage of a surprise - if you catch my drift."
3. "The mask of Dorro."
4. "Having to run 22 km to get ping pong balls: does that count as a first-world problem?"
5. "So IKEA is basically your very well-furnished embassy?"
6. "It is a zinc finger, just not a classical zinc finger. But that doesn't matter anymore - they will all henceforth be known as 'Zingers'."
7. "The lab website should be solely for religious recruitment: Cheesus: cheese for fees."
8. "I witnessed a mountain goat dance in the middle of our conversation."
9. "Have you seasoned it? No, it's just 100% drum ethanol."
10. "We already worked out who is the most bang-able player here."
11. "The lab is yet to experience brostep" & "Of course we should install a one-way-mirror ball in the lab."
12. " 'Agression by Alexei' - the new fragrance. It's only beaten by 'Mediocrity by Neil'."
13. "Sand Pictionary should always use a sand timer. Not unlike regular Pictionary."
14. "Vanessa almost finished off those raccoons. But they had the last laugh."
15. "I'm moderately certain a kangaroo stole my house keys. I guess you can confront it when you get home."
16. "I don't think anyone here would endorse Morgan as a real sheriff."
17. "I don't mind, as long as it's not just me and Alexei."
18. "Dr. cell culture. Carsten could be the next Dr. Phil."
19. "I don't think your wrap has the necessary structural integrity."
20. "Music in Krystal's car - it is a 4D experience."
21. "I think Matthias would make a great Ken."
22. "Apparently something's wrong with Lorraine's camera. I think she shook her Polaroid even more than was specified in the song."
23. "I'm just drinking water. Ok, whatever floats your boat."
24. "The fridge is nothing compared to the doorstep."
25. "I'm pretty sure Babe was a runt, not a bonsai pig."

Angela wins award!
Posted by: Jacqui ( 6 May 2012 )

Angela Nikolic, our intrepid lab manager, won the 2012 Regina Zabaras Memorial Award, in recognition of the contributions she makes to the smooth running of the School (as well as keeping us all in line). Well done Angela, we're very proud of you!

Young Investigator Award for David
Posted by: Jacqui ( 24 Feb. 2012 )

David Jacques, who has spent a year with us (after a PhD with the Trewella/Guss labs) working wonders with crystals and small angle X-ray scattering, won a Young Investigator Award at the 2012 Lorne Protein Conference. In his award talk, David presented crystallographic data from that was from a collaborative project with Lorna and Nina on GATA-DNA binding. David is soon heading off to Cambridge, on a CJ Martin Fellowship, to work with Leo James at the LMB, so he has had a pretty good few months!

Poster Victories at Lorne Proteins
Posted by: Jacqui ( 24 Feb. 2012 )

Soumya Joseph, Kaayva Kumar and Vanessa Morris all won poster prizes at the Lorne Conference for Protein structure and Function. We're very proud of them all. A bonus this year is that winning the prizes makes them eligible for winning a sponsored trip to the Protein Society Conference in San Diego this August. Fingers crossed for more victory......

Fionna publishes a nice paper!
Posted by: Joel ( 16 Dec. 2011 )

Fionna has just had her first paper published from her postdoc with Fred Allain at the ETH in Zurich - in NSMB, no less! While simultaneously juggling a small child (not literally) she has published her structure of the zinc knuckle domains of Lin28 (an inhibitor of miRNA biosytnthesis) bound to a pre-miRNA from Let7 [check it out]. Great stuff Fionna!

Socks gets the official word on her PhD
Posted by: Joel ( 21 Nov. 2011 )

...and the word is "congratulations!" - yes - that's right - the official letter from the Dean has arrived saying that Socks has qualified for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Well done Socks - we will put the champers in the fridge for your graduation!

Nick scores Early Career Research Award from the ARC
Posted by: Joel ( 14 Nov. 2011 )

In the recently announced ARC round, Nick won one of the inaugural DECRA (Discovery Early Career Researcher Award) grants - from a very competitive field - overall success rate of just under 13%. Storming effort Nick - I suppose you will be wanting my office now... You can read about the outcomes of this scheme here - there is some interesting reading in the selection statistics (the ARC always provides this information - you can see it for other schemes too, like the Discovery Projects etc), and the PDF file on that page has the successful grants listed. Congratulations again to Nick - it is a significant step in his research career!

More lab grant success
Posted by: Joel ( 4 Nov. 2011 )

In the recently announced ARC Discovery grant round, Joel was lucky enough to get his two applications funded (outcomes here) - one on zinc finger design and one on trying to figure out the function of our favourite RNA-binding protein A bit of a zinc-finger-centric collection of grants if you take the NHMRC one into account... Now we will be able to afford two-bedroom apartments for the mice!

Now, *this* is a cupcake!
Posted by: Joel ( 27 Oct 2011 )

From UNSW School of Chem's 50th anniversary celebrations - cupcake par excellence....

Joel sweet talks a grant from the NHMRC
Posted by: Joel ( 27 Oct 2011 )

In the recently announced NHMRC Project grant round, Joel managed to convince the NHMRC to part with a little of its moola for a project that is focused on the design of new zinc-finger-based proteins with a new binding function. Who would have thought there was still a bit of money to be had in zinc fingers! This grant should keep Eija in pipette tips for a little while. We still await the outcomes of ARC...

David Jacques lands a postdoctoral fellowship
Posted by: Joel ( 27 Oct 2011 )

David is off to old Blighty with his recently awarded postdoctoral fellowship from the NHMRC - he will be working with [photos]

Roland and Liza tie the knot
Posted by: Joel ( 10 Oct 2011 )

Roland and Liza have taken the plunge and become a married couple - and we have photographic evidence to prove it... Congratulations to them both!

Richard Grant in the news
Posted by: Joel ( 6 Oct 2011 )

Richard Grant - ex-Mackay-lab postdoc, is now an associate editor at the Faculty of 1000 - the group of experts that review papers across a range of different fields and make note of ones that seem worth a read - and has been in the news recently with F1000's decision to create a journal ranking system based on its data: check it out. Good to see he is making himself useful!

Jacqui gets elected...
Posted by: Joel ( 31 August 2011 ) the Executive Council of the Protein Society. It is possible that she is the first person from down under to be elected to the Council! Expect a push for lab members to attend the Protein Society meetings! Actually, I went to one in Zurich not long ago and it was excellent...

Jacqui and Lorna's latest paper comes out in PNAS
Posted by: Joel ( 31 August 2011 )

Lorna's paper describing the multi-protein complexes formed by LMO2, GATA-1, LDB1 and - thrown in for good measure - FOG1 has appeared in the latest issue of PNAS - check it out here. You can also have a look at the structure in our structure gallery - number 43.

Is there something in the air?
Posted by: Joel ( 10 August 2011 )

The other day, Chu Kong became twice the father he was before, by virtue of Annabelle giving birth to their second child - a son - which will now ensure the continuation of the Liew lineage. Congrats Chu (although i would still recommend cats..)
[See larger version of pic]

Fionna loses weight - 2.51 kg, to be precise...
Posted by: Joel ( 8 August 2011 )

On 30 July, Fionna gave birth to Toby Jasper Wai, who weighed in at a healthy but diminutive 2.5 kg (before promptly drinking himself to 3.6 kg!). Congratulations Fionna! Don't take him *too* close to the magnet - you just never know...
[See larger version of pic]

Margie is on the move (even more than usual!)
Posted by: Joel ( 19 July 2011 )

Margie has just been appointed to an tenured academic position in the Department of Pharmacology here at USyd. Although we will miss her badly, it's great news for her - a continuing position *and* she doesn't have to put up with my jokes any more! Congratulations Margie!

Belated news from Greece...
Posted by: Joel ( 12 July 2011 )

Somewhere amongst scootering between island beaches and late night clubbing while at the FEBS Analysis and Engineering of Biomolecular Systems lecture course on Spetses in Greece last year, Morgan found the time to win a talk prize for his work on LIM-homeodomain proteins. Fortunately the prize was not in Drachma, but rather seemed to be a toy cannon. Those crazy Greeks...

Check out our latest single at the iTunes store
Posted by: Joel ( 6 July 2011 )

Next time you are picking up new tracks at the iTunes store, just search for "Joel Mackay" to download our latest hit single. If you aren't an iPerson, you can get it from here. I'm sure it's going to go platinum...

Light show at Circular Quay
Posted by: Joel ( 6 June 2011 )

There is an amazing light show on down at Circular Quay at the moment - well worth checking out what they have done to the Opera House and the Custom House.

Paula hands in her thesis
Posted by: Joel ( 30 May 2011 )

Paula took her thesis off to the binder today - probably a bit of a relief, i reckon...

Liza steps into a new teaching+research academic role
Posted by: Joel ( 25 May 2011 )

Liza has secured a lectureship in the School of Biomedical and Health Sciences at UWS. That is great news for her - finally getting away from having to put up with us! :-) Roland will move out there too and work with Liza on single-stranded DNA-binding proteins.

Socks hands in her thesis
Posted by: Joel ( 29 March 2011 )

Socks has won the 2011 PhD submission stakes, despite facing competition from Eija, Paula and Cuong. Presumably that means she doesn't have to buy the drinks! The added incentive of a booked international flight always focuses the mind! Who will be next....? Congratulations Socks...

Jacqui moves into the heady heights of professordom
Posted by: Joel ( 13 December 2010 )

Hooray yet again! Jacqui was successful with her promotion application and now is known as *Professor* Jacqui Matthews! She is thinking of wearing her gown and bonnet all the time now, not just for graduations. Going to be hot in the summer!

Double Doctor time!
Posted by: Joel ( 12 November 2010 )

Check out the photos of Dr Robyn and Dr Mugdha graduating with their PhDs. Don't they look all grown up and knowledgeable! Mugdha will be heading south to postdoc with Jamie Rossjohn at Monash and Robyn is going to go just a little way northwest to postdoc with Rob Vandenberg at the Bosch Institute at Sydney.

2010 NHMRC grant success
Posted by: Joel ( 12 November 2010 )

Hooray again! More grants, this time from the NHMRC. One to Jacqui, Joel and Mitchell Guss to work on LMO2 complexes, and one to Joel to try to figure out how the NuRD complex works. We will be able to continue doing *real* experiments next year instead of having to move to just those Gedankenexperiments...

Perils of trail running in Oz
Posted by: Joel ( 1 November 2010 )

Out for a run in Garigal National Park yesterday and I nearly stood on this guy(?). Lucky he was in a torpid mood...

Photo update
Posted by: Joel ( 31 October 2010 )

I just found a few photos that Katschi had taken at the McMaster's Beach lab retreat early in the year - so have stuck them up for posterity...

ARC grant success for Jacqui and Liza
Posted by: Joel ( 26 October 2010 )

Hooray - Jacqui and Liza secured a three-year ARC Discovery Grant with the title: "Inhibiting protein-protein interactions involved in neural development and disease", which will keep several PhD students in the style to which they have become accustomed (not quite the Gucci pipettemen, but still...). Congratulations to the both of them!

Now, *this* is a crystal!
Posted by: Joel ( 9 September 2010 )

During the lab cleanup day today, Paul found this crystal in the bottom of his 5 M NaCl bottle, which had been sitting quietly on his shelf for about a year or so. WOW! That is a falcon tube lid, for reference... Nearly 100 years since the structure of NaCl was determined by X-ray crystallography (the first ever X-ray structure) - I wonder if they had a crystal THIS good! Of course, maybe it doesn't diffract... Keep trying Eija

If you are looking for a good read...
Posted by: Joel ( 11 August 2010 )

...then look no further than the latest blockbuster from Mackay and Segal. Packed with juicy material on the bipartite selection of zinc fingers by phage display, the lowdown on inhibition of viral transcription by zinc finger proteins and the shocking tale of transgenic mice expressing an artificial zinc finger protein that targets an endogenous gene, you and your family won't want to miss out on having a copy of this on your shelves...

Actually, this book was three years in the making, so it was quite something for both of us when it was finally finished. There will certainly be some celebration when we get copies in our hot little hands!

Robyn achieves closure
Posted by: Joel ( 9 August 2010 )

Robyn has now handed in the final corrected copies of her PhD thesis, and no doubt has now achieved that sense of inner calm that comes with closure of something so substantial... Just needs to tick off that graduation now before she can put "Dr" on her credit card... Congratulations!

Long awaited photos of Joel's European bike trip!
Posted by: Joel ( 2 August 2010 )

Phew! After two months, I have finally sifted through 2000 photos of my recent cycle touring jaunt through Europe and come up with a subset to keep! Having kept a travel diary while away was an inspired way of making it easier to sort through the photos and annotate them - definitely will be using that option in the future... Check out the photos on Joel and Jacqui's site here [Warning - there are a lot!].

Joel successful at NSW Paddy Pallin Rogaine.
Posted by: Joel ( 21 June 2010 )

In the absence of any other interesting news at the moment, it can be reported that in a prime example of collaboration across the university, Joel and Andrew Black from the Research Office (together with non-USyd person Glenn Horrocks) got up to win the 6-hour Paddy Pallin rogaine yesterday. The event (which involves navigating around an area of bushland looking for small orange flags - does that sound like your kind of fun?) was held in Brisbane Water National Park just north of the Hawkesbury and featured some superb clifftop views and some great mossy creeks and gullies. Jacqui also competed, steering a couple of novice rogainers around the course, and A/Prof. Gareth Denyer was involved as one of the team that set and checked the course over the last couple of months.

Paul allowed to stay in country now!
Posted by: Joel ( 11 Mar 2010 )

Congratulations to Paul, who has just been granted Australian permanent residency, which among other benefits means that we won't have to keep hiding him in the solvent cabinet when the immigration people come to inspect the School.

Journal cover glamour for Fionna's structure
Posted by: Joel ( 10 Mar 2010 )

The journal RNA selected Fionna's crystal structure of a ZRANB2 zinc finger bound to RNA as the cover illustration for their March 2010 issue. Today the cover of RNA, tomorrow the centrefold of Cleo... You can admire a larger view if you like.

Mitch wins poster prize at Genome meeting
Posted by: Joel ( 22 Feb 2010 )

Eschewing the usual Lorne Protein conference this year, Mitch and a small hardcore band of transcription people headed for the Lorne Genome Conference - same location, different science! As well as the chance to hear Phil Gregory from Sangamo talk about designer zinc fingers, Mitch was able to win a prize for his poster on protein design using RanBP-type zinc fingers. Well done Mitch - will help pay for your rent increase!

Former lab member becomes a dad
Posted by: Joel ( 27 Jan 2010 )

Gonzalo Durante (Gonn), a visitor to the lab from Spain in 2007 (wow - time flies!) had a busy week last July, when he (a) got married, (b) defended his PhD thesis (successfully) and (c) became a father. You can see the whole family here. Now, *that* was a stressful week! He is currently being a father-at-home, and planning his next career move. Maybe we will see him in Australia again?

Now *this* is an insect!
Posted by: Joel ( 13 Jan 2010 )

You thought that it was the snakes, scorpions, sharks and spiders that you had to worry about in Australia. No one warned you about the monster stick insects though... check this out. You could put a leash on it and take it for a walk! The body was 20 cm long!

Two more visiting academics in the lab
Posted by: Joel ( 4 Jan 2010 )

A/Profs Kylie Walters and Hiroshi Matsuo are visiting the lab for 2 months from the University of Minnesota. Kylie and Hiroshi are protein NMR spectroscopists with interests in areas including protein-nucleic acid interactions and ubiquitin structure and function.

Joel becomes first Prof. of Zinc Fingers
Posted by: Joel ( 20 Dec 2009 )

Well, not quite, but I have just been promoted to Level E - Professor - and may need to choose a title. Any suggestions?

Dave heads for greener pastures (literally)
Posted by: Joel ( 15 Dec 2009 )

In a mixture of good news and bad news, all rolled into one, Dave Gell is making a move down south and moving his laboratory to the University of Tasmania in Hobart. It is bad news for us, because Dave has been an absolute cornerstone of the lab, from the time he first risked everything to come to Australia on a Wellcome Trust fellowship and work for a complete unknown with almost no experience in running a lab (no prized for guessing who). Dave brought with him a vast amount of experience and expertise, a very strong commitment to understanding how things work, and an unassailable thoroughness in everything he did. Over the intervening years, he has become a close friend, a frequent rogaining partner/navigational instructor and a very highly valued colleague. It has been very rewarding seeing him start his own laboratory here in the School, and despite *his* independence I have remained dependent on his knowledge and skills in many areas.
On the other hand, it will be a new start in a new place for Dave and a superb (and challenging) opportunity to establish protein science in Hobart. I think I can safely say that *everyone* will be sad to see him go, but we are behind him all the way in his new venture (and in Lorne fun runs)! Good luck down south Dave - there will always be a spectrometer here you can use!

Degrees of separation in science
Posted by: Joel ( 30 Oct 2009 )

A couple of days ago, Jacqui and I attended a dinner for the announcement of the Prime Minister's Science Prizes in Canberra. We were surprised to bump into the mother of one of Jacqui's former PhD students (Janet Deane). As it turned out, her father was part of a team at CSIRO that pioneered the technology that became wireless networking (wiLAN). The leader of that team, John O'Sullivan won the prestigious Prime Minister's Price for Science as a result of that team's work. It turned out that they were all radio astronomers that were trying to come up with practical applications of algorithms they had developed for noise reduction etc in radio signals from space. It was only then that I clicked, remembering the fabulous photograph in the lab of Janet and her sister as small children meeting their dad on his way home from work in Parkes...

Visiting academic in the lab
Posted by: Joel ( 1 Sept 2009 )

A/Prof. Siavoush Dastmalchi is visiting the lab for 6 months from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran. Siavoush did his PhD at the University of Sydney with Bret Church (and also did some NMR work with us during that period). He has come to brush up on his NMR spectroscopic skills.

Socks and Soumya win poster prizes at the ECPM
Posted by: Joel ( 3 Aug 2009 )

Sock Yue Thong won the prize for the best poster and Soumya Joseph won third prize for her poster at the East Coast Protein Meeting, held in Coffs Harbour over the weekend. The ECPM is a joint initiative of the Sydney Protein Group and the Queensland Protein Group and is held every two years. The meeting focuses on giving younger scientists the opportunity to give oral presentations. Socks' poster outlined her work on the structural analysis of proteins in the NuRD complex. Mitch O'Connell, Robyn Mansfield, Ingrid MacIndoe, Vanessa Morris and Paula Vaz won travel awards to attend the meeting.

Mitch wins Cancer Institute NSW Award
Posted by: Joel ( 7 July 2009 )

Mitch O'Connell has followed in Eija's Finnish footsteps. After winning a University Medal for his undergraduate degree in 2008, Mitch has been successful in winning a Cancer Institute NSW Research Scholar Award, which will help fund his research project and provide funding for conference travel and other expenses. Top effort Mitch - the pipette tips are on you!

Fionna wins a fellowship
Posted by: Joel ( 22 June 2009 )

Fionna Loughlin, who finished her PhD with Joel in 2007, has just been awarded an ETH Postdoctoral Fellowship to work on the structural biology of protein-RNA complexes in the laboratory of Fred Allain in Zürich. Well done Fionna - thoroughly deserved!

Joel sneaks home in English 100-km event
Posted by: Jacqui ( 20 June 2009 )

Joel teamed up with Richard Green, Jaap Bakker and Jonathan Worswick to win the inaugural Oxfam Trailtrekker 100-km race in the Yorkshire Dales recently. The four of them completed the course (running together), which took in parts of the Pennine Way and the Dales Way, in 13 h 28 min. You can even watch a video of the event (don't worry - it's only 5 min - not 13.5 h!) made by Jaap - including soundtrack!

Richard Grant hits the headlines
Posted by: Joel ( 20 May 2009 )

Richard - ex-postdoctoral associate with Joel - is now working for the Faculty of 1000 in London, trying to make the scientific literature more easily accessible, and was recently interviewed about his predilection for blogging in The Australian newspaper [read the article].

Its official! We work in Sydney's ugliest building!
Posted by: Joel ( 19 May 2009 )

Letter to the editor in The Sydney Morning Herald (Tues 19 May, 2009):
Response to: "Star City, the ugliest building in Sydney (Letters, May 18)?"
"The interior, perhaps, but from the outside it is a model of grace and beauty compared with the UTS Tower, voted Sydney's ugliest building by Herald readers in 2006. But if you ask me, the ugliest is Sydney University's G08 Biochemistry and Microbiology building (1973); more than just brutalist, this is from the Maginot Line school of architecture, inside and out.
Martin Kuskis Lindfield"

Jacqui's LIM complex structure used as eye candy!
Posted by: Joel ( 15 May 2009 )

The new Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine (LIMM - nice...) has a vert attractive logo on their website! Can you pick which structure it is?

The 800 MHz spits out its first HSQC!
Posted by: Joel ( 20 April 2009 )

Woo-hooo - the new Bruker Avance 3 800-MHz NMR spectrometer recorded its first 15N and 13C HSQC spectra today, so we have taken our first steps in the ultra-high-field world. Exciting! The cryosystem and probe will be installed over the next 10 days or so, and then we will be rocking! Please submit purified and double/triple labelled proteins (and their binding partners, preferably!) at your leisure...

Mugdha and Ingrid blitz the Lorne Conference!
Posted by: Joel ( 12 Feb 2009 )

Mugdha and Ingrid both won poster prizes at the recent Lorne Conference on Protein Structure and Function for their presentations on LIM homeodomain and hydrophobin proteins, respectively. Miriam-Rose Ash and David Jacques from the crystallography side of the structural biology unit also picked up prizes too - not a bad haul overall!

Ann appointed as NMR Instrument Manager
Posted by: Joel ( 1 Jan 2009 )

Ann has finally given in to her desire to work in or near a workshop and been appointed as our new NMR Instrument Manager. In this, she follows in the footsteps of Dr Bill Bubb, who did an excellent job of keeping our 400 and 600-MHz instruments in tip-top condition. Ann's first job is to oversee the installation of our new 800-MHz instrument - not a bad way to kick off! I have a hunch that Ann is going to be an exceptional instrument manager...

Ann wins ANZMAG Young Investigator Award
Posted by: Joel ( 12 Dec 2008 )

Ann was awarded the Young Investigator Medal from the Australian and NZ Society for Magnetic Resonance. This medal recognizes an outstanding contribution to the field of magnetic resonance in Australia and New Zealand, by a researcher who is less than 38 or is less than eight years out of their PhD. Ann has not only carried out high quality research in NMR, but has contributed significantly to the NMR community in Australia, making contributions to conference organization and to teaching at the Wollongong NMR courses in recent years. In the words of our ANZMAG president, Gottfried Otting, Ann has gone from NMR student to imparter of NMR knowledge in the last eight years. Well deserved, Ann!

Joel wins 100-mile race!
Posted by: Jacqui ( 11 Nov 2008 )

On the weekend, Joel ran in the Great North Walk 100-miler, run (oddly enough) on the Great North Walk between Newcastle and the northern reaches of Sydney (Patonga). Improbably, he crossed the line first in 26 h 31 min - his first ever win in a solo race. Soon he will be able to walk properly again...

Fellowship success
Posted by: Joel ( 10 Nov 2008 )

Not only will we be able to buy tips, but Joel and Jacqui will also be able to feed their cats next year. Both of us have secured NHMRC fellowships (SRF B level) to keep us off the streets for the next five years. What a relief!

Grant success
Posted by: Joel ( 1 Nov 2008 )

Hooray - we will be able to buy pipette tips next year! Joel was awarded two ARC Discovery Grants and Jacqui one. Joel's two projects are focused on (a) new functions for zinc finger transcription factors (in collaboration with Merlin Crossley) and (b) novel zinc-finger DNA-binding domains. Jacqui's grant will extend her work on LIM domain transcriptional regulators.

Robyn wins a prize at ComBio 2008
Posted by: Joel ( 29 Sept 2008 )

Robyn showed them what she was made of at the recent ComBio conference in Canberra, winning a poster prize for her presentation on the peptide-binding properties of PHD domains. Congratulations Robyn - well deserved!

Wendy on the radio
Posted by: Joel ( 18 Aug 2008 )

Wendy Yung, an MSc graduate from the Mackay lab, appeared on ABC National Radio the other day. Wendy has been working at Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre, for a number of years now, and travels around the country with their science roadshow, enthusing people about science. Wendy chatted to Robin Williams about the exhibition that she is currently touring the country with. You can listen to the interview here [note that this link is for the whole science show - you need to head to a spot about 3/4 of the way through to hear Wendy!].

Mudgha is in the money...
Posted by: Jacqui ( 29 May 2008 )

Mugdha Bhati, a smiley PhD student from Jacqui's lab, has been busy winning prizes and fellowships to attend a couple of crystallography conferences. She was awarded a Maslen scholarship from the Society of Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand to go to the IUCr congress in Osaka, and the School Greg Ralston Travelling Fellowship to go to a crystallography workshop in France. She's got a few new crystals to work on as well!

Liza publishes in Nature!
Posted by: Jacqui ( 29 May 2008 )

After a long reviewing process, Dr Liza Cubeddu, a National Breast Cancer Foundation Fellow in Jacqui's lab, has just seen some of her work finally appear in Nature (PubMed). This paper describes a new human single-stranded DNA binding protein that is essential for genomic stability - the work originated from Liza's previous life in St Andrews. Congratulations Liza!

New (honorary) lab member...
Posted by: Joel ( 13 March 2008 )

At the seemingly unreasonable time of 1:33 this morning, Thu brought a small bundle of baby girl into the world, with her husband Cuong standing (?) nervously by. She has been named Tho, and had all the expected parts on delivery (nothing worse than waiting for back orders). As reported by Cuong: " We walked to the hospital @ 18:30 on 12/2/08 and walked home @ 18:25 on 13/3/08. Not “Two become One” as a song :D, it is “Two become Three” just after 24 hours…. Congratulations Cuong and Thu!

Jacqui hammers Six Foot Track
Posted by: Joel ( 10 March 2008 )

On Saturday, Jacqui and I ran the Six Foot Track ultramarathon - a particularly nasty 45-km trail run in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Jacqui had been plotting her revenge on the race since 2000, when she went out too hard and had to pull out half way. Her training this time was disciplined and measured, and it paid off better than even she imagined. She had been anticipating finishing in 6:00-6:30, with outside hopes of slipping under 6 h. On the day, she pulverized her expectations and cruised across the line in 5:33 - faster than my time the first time I ran the race many years ago. She was absolutely stoked at the end, and looked like she could have turned around and run back (although i suspect she couldn't have...). I had a good day too on the scale of things - shaving 2 min of my PB to get it down to 4:10 - its going down in *very* small decrements now...

Joel has a good run
Posted by: Joel ( 14 Nov 2007 )

Last weekend, I raced in the Great North Walk 100-mile trail run just north of Sydney, and was lucky enough to come in third, behind David Waugh and Tim Cochrane. It was an awesome run with great scenery, and everything went as well as it could possibly have done on the day. Support crew (Jacqui) was superb, and I managed not to get lost, dehydrated, food-deprived or pulled down into the creeks by the 100's of killer leeches on the course.

Eija wins Cancer Institute NSW Award
Posted by: Joel ( 26 October 2007 )

Not only have Joel, Jacqui, Ann and Margie been busy getting grants, but Eija Lehtomaki didn't want to miss out either. She has been awarded a Cancer Institute NSW Research Scholar Award, which will help fund her research project and provide funding for conference travel and other expenses. Well done Eija!

More grants! Yay!
Posted by: Joel ( 11 Oct 2007 )

At the same time we found out about the grant towards our new NMR spectrometer, Jacqui was awarded an NHMRC Project Grant to continue some of her work on LIM domain complexes, and Margie and Ann were awarded an ARC Discovery Grant to investigate aspects of hydrophobin structure and function. Celebration time!

More megahertz, anyone?!
Posted by: Joel ( 10 Oct 2007 )

We met with some success in the latest round of ARC Equipment and Infrastructure grants and have been awarded $1.3M towards the cost of an 800 MHz NMR spectrometer to keep our cryo-equipped 600 company. We also have some commitments from other universities, which means that so long as we can raise the remainder of the funds, we will soon be shopping for a new shiny toy!

Translation services on offer!
Posted by: Joel ( 18 Sept 2007 )

Out of curiosity, Paul started writing the languages that people in the lab could speak reasonably fluently on the whiteboard the other day. The list kept getting longer and longer - and ended up with 20! They are: English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indonesian, Bahasa, Malay, German, French, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Sardinian, Serbian, Russian, Afikaans and Hindi. So, if you need anything translated...

Joel wins Sydney Trailwalker
Posted by: Jacqui ( 1 Sept 2007 )

Perhaps even more improbably, Joel recently got together with three blokes from his running club (Jaap Bakker, Richard Green and Jonathan Worswick) and took out the Oxfam Sydney Trailwalker, a 100-km ultramarathon through the bushland of Sydney. The run attracted over 500 teams this year, who run or walk together along some of Sydney's most spectacular bushland to raise money for Oxfam's relief work. Joel's team (The Sydney Striders Foreign Legion) covered the 100 km in a shade under 13 h, finishing more than an hour ahead of the second placed team - the Cosmo Boys from Hong Kong. You can read more at the event web site here.

Joel wins Australian Rogaining Championships
Posted by: Jacqui ( 1 Aug 2007 )

Improbably, Joel and his rogaining partner Phil Whitten sneaked in by only 20 points (out of 2690) to win the 24-h Australian Rogaining Championships held last weekend in the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs. For those of you who have never heard of the sport, rogaining is a long-distance version of orienteering. You are given a topographic map with ~50-60 specific points marked on it (each worth different amounts of points) and you have to plan a course to visit as many of them as possible in the allotted time - anywhere from 6-24 h depending on the event. Joel and Phil covered ~90-100 km over the 24 h, across fairly uncompromising central Australian terrain filled with panoramic views and spinifex bushes. The web site for the event is here

Lab success at East Coast Protein Meeting
Posted by: Joel ( 16 July 2007 )

At the East Coast Protein Meeting, which was held last weekend at Coffs Harbour, the lab took home more than their fair share of the prizes! Mugdha Bhati won the prize for the best student talk, and Chu Kong Liew was runner-up for the best presentation by a non-student. Molly Clifton won the prize for the best poster, and Melinda Tan was a runner-up in the same category. Well worth the trip up the coast and the hardship of staying at the Opal Cove resort for a couple of days!

Sally II - The Return of Sally
Posted by: Jacqui ( 2 July 2007 )

Sally Eaton, fresh from her PhD in Merlin Crossley's lab upstairs, has joined Jacqui's lab for a period of postdoctoral work. Sally will now have worked with Joel/Dave (BSc Hons), Merlin *and* Jacqui - placing her well to decide who is the best supervisor (not that we are competitive...).

Our latest Scandanavian arrives!
Posted by: Joel ( 2 July 2007 )

Mats Gustaffson is an undergraduate from Uppsala University in Sweden who has joined the lab (as of today) as part of the research training component of his undergraduate degree. He will work with Ann on developing the use of ribosome display and phage display for protein engineering.

Sandra wins poster prize
Posted by: Jacqui ( 5 June 2007 )

Sandra Wissmüller recently attended the 6th Discovery Science and Biotechnology Meeting in Brisbane, where she was awarded an Early Career Researcher poster prize for her poster: Specific Interactions of Sox Proteins with many Transcription Factors. The work described there was part of her PhD thesis in her former lab in Germany and was published last year. The sponsors give half of the money directly to the winners and use the other half to pay the registration fee for any other conference the winner chooses to attend.

Margie and Ann win Linkage Grant
Posted by: Joel ( 22 May 2007 )

Margie and Ann were recently awarded an ARC Linkage Grant to investigate the possible biotechnological uses of hydrophobin proteins. The work is a collaboration with the German chemical company BASF.

Jason talks at GATA conference in Capri
Posted by: Joel ( 27 April 2007 )

At the recent GATA factors conference on the Mediterranean island of Capri, Jason was invited to present his work on the DNA_binding properties of C. elegans GATA zinc fingers. He gave a great account of his work, injecting a little bit of structural biology into an otherwise developmentally dominated conference.

Joel recognized in the Bulletin's Smartest 100
Posted by: Jacqui ( 3 April 2007 )

The Bulletin, a current affairs magazine, is publishing a list of the people it considers "the 100 smartest, most innovative and most creative people currently working in Australia". We think that there must have been a mixup between this list and the related list of the 100 biggest smartarses in Australia, because somehow Joel has ended up on the list, which is currently being released 10-at-a-time in the magazine [see article and profiles].

Molecule of the Month!
Posted by: Joel ( 13 March 2007 )

One of our most prized structures, the GATA:FOG zinc finger complex, features in the Protein Data Bank's Molecule of the Month section for March 2007. Check it out! A couple of our recent reviews of the field (Sunde and Matthews and Gamsjaeger et al.) were also used to create the feature.

Mugdha wins poster prize
Posted by: Joel ( 1 March 2007 )

Mugdha Bhati won a Student Poster Prize at the recent Biomolecular Dynamics and Interactions 2007 Meeting: From Single Molecules to Complex Assemblies. With Jacqui chairing the meeting (and no she wasn't a poster judge) and Joel chairing a session, there was a very heavy lab influence - even if it was held in Melbourne.

New overseas Masters student on the way
Posted by: Joel ( 1 March 2007 )

Cuong Dinh Ngyuen, a graduate of the Hanoi National University and currently working at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, has been awarded a Government Scholarship to carry out an MSc in the lab. He will arrive in the second semester of 2007.

New postdoctoral fellow to join the lab
Posted by: Joel ( 13 March 2007 )

Dr Josep Font from Catelonia in Spain has just been awarded a Research Fellowship from the Spanish government to join the lab for two years. Josep (Pep) has worked extensively on the thermodynamics of folding of ribonuclease A, under the tutelage of Prof. Maria Vilanova at the University of Girona.

Daniel wins postdoctoral fellowships
Posted by: Jacqui ( 7 Jan 2007 )

Daniel Ryan was awarded NHMRC CJ Martin and EMBO postdoctoral fellowships in the most recent rounds. Once he decides which one is more lucrative, it will fund his stay in Tom Owen-Hughes' laboratory at the University of Dundee. Great effort Daniel!

Joel and Jacqui win cancer research grants
Posted by: Joel ( 15 Dec 2006 )

Joel and Jacqui were recently awarded 1-year grants from the Cancer Institute NSW to examine specific aspects of cancer biology.

Liza wins a cancer research grant
Posted by: Jacqui ( 30 Oct 2006 )

Dr Liza Cubeddu has been successful in obtaining a three-year research grant from the International Society for Cancer Research; this grant will fund the work that she is doing in collaboration with Jacqui on the analysis of protein interactions involved in breast cancer progression.

Fionna does it again!
Posted by: Joel ( 1 Oct 2006 )

Fionna has proven that her Lorne Poster Prize this year was no fluke by winning a poster prize at the 2006 ComBio conference in Brisbane. Her poster described structural and functional details of RanBP-like zinc finger domains.

Dave nails a fellowship and a Discovery Grant
Posted by: Joel ( 19 Oct 2006 )

Dr Dave Gell was successful in the recent round of ARC Discovery Grants - he was awarded a Discovery Grant to continue his analysis of the alpha-hemoglobin stabilizing protein AHSP. The grant included an Australian Research Fellowship, so that will keep him off the streets for the next five years and keep Henry in nappies.

Fionna wins Lorne poster prize
Posted by: Joel ( 20 Feb 2006 )

Fionna has scaled the heights of poster prizeness by picking up one of the poster prizes at the 2006 Lorne Protein Conference, for her poster on the splicing factor ZNF265.

Joel wins the Gottschalk medal
Posted by: Jacqui ( 9 Dec 2005 )

Joel has been awarded the 2006 Gottschalk Medal of the Australian Academy of Science. This award, in memory of Dr A Gottschalk, is given to recognise outstanding research in the medical sciences by scientists under 40 years. Joel is the second member of the School of MMB to be awarded this Medal - Merlin Crossley was the recipient in 2002. Other past recipients include John Shine, Nic Nicola, Michael Parker, Doug Hilton and David Vaux.

Daniel, Molly and Mugda successful at SPG Thompson Prize night
Posted by: Jacqui ( 8 Dec 2005 )

Daniel Ryan won the Sydney Protein Group Thompson Prize, for the best talk given by a young scientist, at the 2005 Thompson Prize Night at Macquarie University on Dec 7th. At the same event it was announced that Molly Clifton and Mugdha Bhati won travelling fellowships to enable them to attend the Lorne Protein Conference in 2006. Check out the SPG website for more information and photos!

Jacqui wins ARC Grant
Posted by: Jacqui ( 9 Nov 2005 )

In yet more ARC success this year, Jacqui was successful in her bid for a Discovery Grant to fund her work on LIM domain proteins and their role in mammalian development.

Joel and Merlin score ARC Discovery Grant
Posted by: Joel ( 9 Nov 2005 )

In a continuation of their long collaboration, Joel and Merlin have been awarded a $550K ARC Discovery Grant to work on transcriptional regulators involved in hematopoiesis.

Ann wins ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship
Posted by: Joel ( 9 Nov 2005 )

Dr Ann Kwan has won a prestigious ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship in the current round of ARC funding. This fellowship is just reward for Ann's abilities and is a great stepping stone for her career as a researcher. She intends to work on protein design using combinatorial display methods.

Margie wins RD Wright Fellowship
Posted by: Joel ( 18 Oct 2005 )

Dr Margie Sunde has just been awarded a thoroughly deserved RD Wright fellowship from the NHMRC. This five-year fellowship is very prestigious and will give Margie a great chance to consolidate her research with independent funding.

Lab receives crystallization robotics system
Posted by: Jacqui ( 1 Nov 2005 )

We recently were awarded funding to set up a robotic crystallization facility, and have purchased liquid handling, crystallization and visualization robots in order to improve our hit rate with protein crystallization. These instruments have recently arrived in the School, and promise to usher in a new era of whizz bang apparatus for Ann to play with (not to mention fast crystal screens...).

NHMRC Project Grant success
Posted by: Jacqui ( 10 Oct 2005 )

Joel and Dave, in collaboration with David Adams at the Sanger Institute in the UK, have been awarded an NHMRC Project Grant to study the structure and function of a zinc finger protein with a putative role in the regulation of alternative splicing. This project has produced some very enticing preliminary data and the funding will provide the opportunity to follow these data through.

Joel and Jacqui win NHMRC Program Grant
Posted by: Joel ( 1 Aug 2005 )

Together with Merlin Crossley, Joel and Jacqui were recently awarded $2.8M in a five-year NHMRC Program Grant, to persue their work on understanding the molecular basis of gene regulation. Only a handful of these grants, which emphasize collaborations between high-performing teams of researchers, are given out each year. There was excitement all round!

Fionna and Ann win prizes at East Coast Protein Meeting
Posted by: Joel ( 20 July 2005 )

Fionna Loughlin and Ann Kwan both won prizes at the recent East Coast Protein Meeting. Held at the Opal Cove resort in Coffs Harbour, ECPM was a superbly run and very interesting meeting chaired by Philippa Stokes (a third year PhD student in the lab) and put together with her team of organizers Sharon Pursglove, Molly Clifton (both from the lab) and Kate Quinlan (Crossley lab). Fionna won an outstanding student talk award, and Ann won a prize for her first poster as a grown up.

Daniel and Belinda form collaboration
Posted by: Joel ( 27 April 2005 )

Recent Mackay lab alumnus Belinda Westman has entered what looks to be a very long term collaboration with current Matthews Lab member Daniel Ryan. Date of formalization of this collaboration to be announced... - update - looks like Jan 7 2006...

Daniel wins ASBMB Fellowship
Posted by: Jacqui ( 25 April 2005 )

Daniel Ryan has scored one of the 2005 ASBMB Fellowships, designed to allow PhD students to travel to an international conference of their choosing. Competition for these awards is fierce every year, so it is a great achievement for him to have won one of these. He is using the prize to attend the Protein Society meeting in Barcelona this year - and i am sure he won't be spending any of his trip lying on the Costa del Sol - it will all be working hard at the meeting...

Sharon incubates new prospective lab member!
Posted by: Joel ( 10 April 2005 )

Sharon has announced the impending arrival of a new prospective Hons student, although it might take a few years before they are able to hold a Gilson properly. We are all hoping that things go well for Sharon, and that she is able to find something stylish in the maternity lab coat range...

Philippa et al organize the East Coast Protein meeting
Posted by: Joel ( 1 April 2005 )

On 24-26 June this year, the SPG and QPG will be co-hosting the East Coast Protein meeting at the luxurious Opal Cove Resort in Coffs Harbour. This year, the meeting will be organized almost entirely by Philippa Stokes, Sharon Pursglove, Molly Clifton, Ann Kwan and Kate Edwards. So far, they have secured two invited speakers, and plenty of sponsorship money, ensuring that the conference will be a great success (as long as they can get a few registrants...). Looking good so far!

Mike wins poster prize at Lorne Protein Conference
Posted by: Joel ( 14 Feb 2005 )

Mike Swanton capped off his PhD in the lab by winning one of the poster prizes at the 2005 Lorne Protein Conference for a presentation on the work he has been carrying out over the last couple of years on zinc-finger:DNA interactions. This work has been going well over the last 10 months or so, and the meeting was a great chance for Mike to show people what he had achieved in this time.

Structure of the GATA-FOG complex published in PNAS
Posted by: Joel ( 12 Jan 2005 )

After about 7 years of painstaking work (!), we have finally been able to solve and publish the structure of the complex formed between the N-terminal zinc finger of GATA-1 and a classical finger from FOG. This work was made very difficult by the weak nature of the complex (~104-105 M-1), which presented line-broadening problems. Finally though, we got there and were able to report the structure in PNAS (Track II) - a great relief for all involved! Now to bring in other members of these complexes...

New research fellow to come to the lab
Posted by: Joel ( 11 Dec 2004 )

Dr Roland Gamsjaeger from the University of Linz was awarded an Austrian Shroedinger Fellowship to come to the lab for two years - Roland will arrive in a couple of months and brings expertise in Biacore and AFM with him.

Janet's structure of the LMO2:ldb1 complex published in EMBO J.
Posted by: Jacqui ( 11 Nov 2004 )

The structure of the complex formed between full-length LMO4 and the LMO4-binding region of ldb1 was published recently in EMBO J. This structure revealed a very unusual binding mode - a tandem beta-zipper, in which the ldb1 forms additional beta-strands to add on to hairpins in both of the LIM domains. The structure provides an extremely extended interface, and Daniel and others have been able to map the important residues for binding using mutagenesis and yeast two-hybrid experiments. Now the design work can begin!

Janet wins Young Brilliance prize
Posted by: Jacqui ( 20 May 2004 )

Janet Deane was awarded the Young Brilliance prize from the Cure Cancer Australia Foundation last night. This prize is awarded annually to an Australian PhD student who has made an outstanding contribution to understanding and curing cancer. The award was presented at a gala dinner at UNSW, and Janet has been receiving lots of attention from the press!

Dave wins Applied Biosystems Edman Award
Posted by: Joel ( 21 April 2004 )

Dave Gell won the Edman Award from the ASBMB - a prize given to postdoctoral researchers with less than seven years experience after completing their PhD. Dave will present his work at ComBio 2004 (in Perth) and receive a big dollop of cash as well!

Ann and Janet win ASBMB travelling fellowships
Posted by: Joel ( 21 April 2004 )

Ann Kwan and Janet Deane were awarded Travelling Fellowships from the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. These highly competitive awards provide funding for the recipients to attend an international conference in their field.

Philippa wins prize at Lorne Protein Conference
Posted by: Jacqui ( 16 Feb 2004 )

Philippa Stokes won a poster prize at the Lorne Protein conference last week for her work on the CtIP:BRCA1:LMO complex. She was pleased! She plans to not release the movie rights just yet, in order to increase interest among the larger studios.

Big Chu picks up a CJ Martin Fellowship
Posted by: Joel ( 24 Nov 2003 )

Chu Kong Liew was recently awarded a four-year CJ Martin Postdoctoral Fellowship from the NHMRC. He has used this fellowship to embark on an overseas adventure to that centre of culture (and basketball) UCLA, where he is working in the lab of Rob Clubb. He is continuing in the world of protein interactions and structural biology, and hopes to make an impact in the pick-up 3 on 3 games around campus.

Jacqui wins Viertel Fellowship
Posted by: Joel ( 7 Nov 2003 )

Jacqui has won the Clive and Sylvia Viertel Medical Research Fellowship for 2003. Only one of these prestigious five-year fellowships was awarded this year Australia-wide. As well as a salary, this fellowship provides additional money for a research assistant and some consumables.

New ARC Discovery Grant for lab
Posted by: Joel ( 13 Oct 2003 )

Joel was awarded an ARC Discovery Grant (Biophysical characterization of protein interactions within a transcription factor network) for 2004-2006.

Daniel wins poster prize at ComBio 2003
Posted by: Jacqui ( 6 Oct 2003 )

Daniel Ryan won a prize for his poster on the TAL1:LMO2:ldb1 interaction at ComBio 2003 in Melbourne last week.

Joel awarded LIEF grant for NMR cryosystem
Posted by: Jacqui ( 22 Sept 2003 )

Joel, together with Gottfried Otting (ANU), Philip Kuchel and others, has obtained funding (AUD750K) to install a cryosystem on the MMB's 600 MHz NMR spectrometer. The system will come with two probeheads - a TXI (HCN) probe (for protein and other 1H work) and a CH dual probe for metabolic work.

Janet wins poster prize
Posted by: Jacqui ( 22 Aug 2003 )

At the recent Asian Crystallographic Association (AsCA) in Broome, Western Australia, the PDB announced the initiation of the PDB Poster Prize for best student poster presentation in macromolecular crystallography. The prize was awarded to Janet Deane for her work conducted in collaboration with Dr Megan Maher and Dr Mitchell Guss.

Daniel wins poster prize
Posted by: Jacqui ( 24 July 2003 )

At the recent East Coast Protein Meeting, held at Coffs Harbour, Daniel Ryan won a prize for the best student poster, for his presentation entitled "Using LMO2:ldb1 fusion protein sto probe multi-protein transcriptional complexes". For his efforts, he was awarded $500 towards attending the ComBio2003 conference in Melbourne this September.

A snippet in the news
Posted by: Joel ( 9 March 2003 )

Joel was profiled (briefly!) in The Sydney Morning Herald's new Health and Science section this week. I know we don't use radioactive waves, but it is the press...

Poster Prizes at Lorne
Posted by: Joel ( 28 Feb 2003 )

Philippa Stokes and Belinda Westman took out two of the poster prizes at the recent Lorne Conference for Protein Structure and Function. At the same meeting, Joel gave a talk on Ann Kwan and Belinda Sharpe's protein design work, and Jacqui chaired a session. Overall, a good time was had by all (as usual at Lorne!).

Cover story
Posted by: Joel ( 22 Jan 2003 )

Our most recent paper, a collaboration with Peter Karuso, on the solution properties of DNA-binding ruthenium complexes, made the cover of Dalton Transactions, a Royal Society of Chemistry journal.

Positions available in Mackay and Matthews Lab.
Posted by: Joel ( 8 Jan 2003 )

Postdoctoral and Research Assistant positions are currently available in the Mackay and Matthews labs.
Download PDF advertisement for postdoc.
Contact Joel or Jacqui for more information.

Joel part of largest LIEF grant for 800
Posted by: Joel ( 30 Dec 2002 )

A consortium headed by Gottfried Otting and Joel was recently awarded $1.53M from the ARC's large equipment grant fund (LIEF). This grant, which was the largest of its kind, will allow the purchase of an 800 MHz NMR spectrometer equipped with a cryosystem.

The instrument will be situated at the Research School of Chemistry at ANU and the University of Sydney will have ~20-25% of the measurement time. This will be a tremendous boost to our capabilities, allowing the recording of full datasets in substantially reduced times, as well as greatly improving signal-to-noise over the current instrumentation.

NIH funding for lab
Posted by: Joel ( 11 Nov 2002 )

A team comprising Merlin Crossley (USyd), Andrew Perkins (Monash) and Joel was awarded an NIH R01 grant (~AUD1.2M) to study the repression of fetal gamma globin.

Lab team wins NSW Rogaining Championships!
Posted by: Joel ( 31 Oct 2002 )

A crack team, made up of Janet Deane, Ann Kwan, Chu Wai Liew and Wendy Yung, took out the 15 in 24 hour event at the recent NSW Rogaining Championships, held in Nowendoc north of Newcastle. Joel and Jacqui also competed (in the 24 h event) and were placed third. A good time and much navigating was had by all...

Jacqui and Joel win NHMRC Project Grants
Posted by: Jacqui ( 22 Oct 2002 )

Both Jacqui and Joel won NH&MRC Project Grants for 2003-2005. Joel's grant ($225,000) is to understand the way in which specific transcription factors synergise in controlling blood cell development, while Jacqui's grant ($420,000) is to work on the structure and interactions of several oncogenic transcription factors and the protein-protein complexes that they form.

Wendy Yung wins poster prize
Posted by: Joel ( 4 Sept 2002 )

One of the PhD students in Joel's lab, Wendy Yung, won the major poster prize at the recent ComBio2002 conference, held in Sydney. The prize, sponsored by the Biochemical Journal, included a subscription to the journal as well as a hefty cheque!

Mackay and Matthews labs win ARC Discovery Grants
Posted by: Jacqui ( 2 Sept 2002 )

Both Jacqui and Joel were awarded ARC Discovery Grants for 2003-2005. Jacqui's grant ($300,000) will allow her to continue her work aimed at understanding the role of specific transcription factors in the control of gene expression, and to begin to design specific reagents that may interfere with aberrent expression of certain genes. Joel's grant will allow us to probe the structure and function of a novel protein involved in the regulation of globin production. This grant ($600,000) included a prestigious ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship for David Gell (who has been working in the Mackay lab on a Wellcome Trust Travelling Fellowship for two years). If you are interested in working in our labs on this or another project, contact Jacqui or Joel.

Joel wins Minister's Prize for the Life Sciences
Posted by: Joel ( 22 Aug 2002 )

In a dinner held at Parliament House in Canberra several weeks ago, Joel was presented with the Science Minister's Prize for Life Scientist of the Year. The award came with a $35,000 cheque and a medal. The award was given for the contribution made by Joel and his research group towards understanding the role of zinc-binding domains in controlling gene expression.

Lastest update: "Lab members page", on 18th Mar 2019.

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