Monash researcher receives $8m Snow Medical Foundation Fellowship to ‘unlock nature’s toolbox’ for RNA biomedicine

Leading the Knott Lab at Monash’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Dr Knott is one of only three researchers in Australia to receive the $8 million, eight-year fellowship to develop Australia’s next generation of biomedical research leaders.

“The Snow Fellowship will support me and my team to take the necessary risks that are needed to make transformative discoveries,” Dr Knott said.

“A new era in RNA-based biological therapeutics is dawning. We will lack tools to robustly detect, target or modify RNA if we don’t act now.

“With this investment, my team can discover, understand and utilise nature’s existing toolbox of RNA to unlock the next generation of transformative biotechnologies.

“The potential economic and public health benefits of this work are significant.”

Dr Knott is one of 65 RNA researchers within Monash’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute, the largest cohort in Australia.

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AC said the grant is a significant investment towards Dr Knott’s innovative work, which is at the cutting edge of RNA research.

“Dr Knott’s research has the potential to provide significant economic and public health benefits,” Professor Gardner said. “It will also enhance Monash’s position as a world-leading biomedical research university and Victoria as the home of biomedical research in Australia. We are at the very beginning of the RNA story for biomedicine, and Monash is proud to be a global leader of that work.

Speaking on the announcement, Snow Medical Chair Terry Snow said: “We are interested in supporting exciting research that is both globally outstanding and allows Australia to play a leading role. This is about keeping and developing the best and brightest scientists here in Australia.”

Today’s investment brings the total Snow Medical Research Foundation commitment to the medical research sector to over $90 million.

Gavin Knott Biography

Dr Knott completed a Bachelor of Science with first-class Honours in Biochemistry at the University of Western Australia where he received the Faculty of Life of Physical Sciences Medal. With a prestigious Hackett postgraduate scholarship, he completed a PhD at the University of Western Australia under the supervision of Prof. Charlie Bond and A/Prof. Archa Fox.

In 2016, Gavin relocated to the University of California, Berkeley to work with Nobel Laureate Prof. Jennifer Doudna as a postdoctoral research fellow supported by an American Australian Association Fellowship. During a prolific five-year postdoctoral fellowship, he made fundamental contributions to the understanding of CRISPR tools that are now used for RNA detection, DNA editing, and the control of gene editors.

His work has been recognised with the Australian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Boomerang Award and the Robin Anders Young Investigator Award in 2019.

Gavin returned to Australia in 2021 when he was awarded an NHMRC Early Leadership Investigator Grant to establish the Nucleic Acid Sensors lab in the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University. With the critically enabling support of a Snow Fellowship, Gavin and his team are working to uncover the next generation of innovative molecular tools to power the global RNA biomedicine revolution.