Biochemistry Fellowships for ECRs

Dr Chris Stubenrauch and Dr Gabby Watson.
Dr Chris Stubenrauch and Dr Gabby Watson.

Two early career researchers (ECRs) from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) have received Fellowships from the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), in recognition of their outstanding work in their field.

Congratulations to Dr Gabby Watson from the Rossjohn lab and Dr Chris Stubenrauch from the Lithgow lab.

Dr Gabby Watson’s postgraduate research utilised structural biology to design and characterise cyclic peptides targeted to an intracellular breast cancer protein, Grb7. This resulted in six publications, many as first-author, including two in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

She is currently investigating the complexities and specificities of ligand recognition by the inhibitory receptor CD96, an emerging target for cancer immunotherapy, with some of this research recently published in Structure.

This ASBMB Fellowship will enable Dr Watson to travel to Vienna, Austria, to present her latest research at the 32nd European Crystallographic Meeting.

“I am honoured to receive an ASBMB Fellowship, and grateful to have the opportunity to discuss our recent discoveries on CD96 ligand recognition with experts in the European crystallographic community,” Dr Watson said.

Dr Stubenrauch received the Fred Collins Award. This award is granted to the most outstanding ASBMB Fellowship applicant and includes additional funding for travel. Fred Collins was instrumental to the establishment of the Australian Biochemical Society and his research into the importance of phospholipids in cellular function is seen as a turning point in the importance attributed to these molecules in biology.

During his PhD, Dr Stubenrauch developed a radiolabelling pulse chase assay to determine the precise mechanistic details surrounding outer membrane protein biogenesis in the model bacterium Escherichia coli. For this work, Dr Stubenrauch was honoured as the top completing PhD student in the Department of Microbiology in 2016.

To date, Dr Stubenrauch has published ten research manuscripts in highly regarded journals, including four as first author, and he has contributed a chapter on bacterial outer membrane assembly in the upcoming book: “Protein Secretion in Bacteria”. His first-author paper in Nature Microbiology was transformational for his field, demonstrating for the first time how a molecular machine, the translocation and assembly module, facilitates the assembly of fimbrial ushers.

Dr Stubenrauch will use his Fellowship to support his attendance at the 2019 GRC on Mechanisms of Membrane Transport in New Hampshire, USA, where he will present his work on the last steps of protein insertion into the bacterial outer membrane. Dr Stubenrauch is also the recipient of a Travel Award from The CASS Foundation, which he will use to attend the 2019 EMBO Symposium - New Approaches and Concepts in Microbiology in Heidelberg, Germany.

“Both of these conferences attract the best biochemists and microbiologists in the world, so I’m looking forward to establishing collaborative links with my overseas colleagues and hearing from some of the best scientific minds. I feel honoured that I could receive both of these travel awards, because without them, attending even one of these conferences would have been prohibitively expensive,” Dr Stubenrauch said.

About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.