Commonwealth government backs MIPS early career researchers

Dr Xin (Cindy) Zhang and Dr Stanley Cheng Xie

L-R: Dr Xin (Cindy) Zhang, Dr Stanley Cheng Xie.

The Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) will be home to two researchers awarded close to $1M in funding through the ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme.

The two recipients are Dr Xin (Cindy) Zhang, who was awarded the Mollie Holman Medal for the best PhD thesis across the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2021, and Dr Stanley Cheng Xie who will move across to MIPS to implement the DECRA project.

The DECRA scheme provides research support for early career researchers in teaching and research, and research-only positions. In this round, the Australian Government is funding 200 new projects to provide promising early career researchers with the opportunity to develop and apply their research skills in a supportive environment, in projects important to Australia.

Director of MIPS, Professor Chris Porter, said that investing in early career researchers is integral to advancing their work and developing their paths for the future.

“It is important that we support our emerging talent on their journey toward becoming the research leaders of tomorrow. Well done to Dr Zhang and Dr Xie for these well-deserved awards,” said Professor Porter.

More about the DECRA 2023 Round 1 MIPS recipients:

Dr Xin (Cindy) Zhang - Cryo-electron microscopy determination of G protein-coupled receptor states, $457,139.

This project aims to address fundamental knowledge gaps in understanding of the molecular mechanisms of peptide hormone G protein-coupled receptor activation. This will be achieved through cryo-electron microscopy determination of the structure and dynamics of key intermediate states in activation. Novel biochemical approaches will be applied to capture these states, using as exemplar the glucagon receptor that has a broad range of pharmacological tools to facilitate isolation of distinct functional states. The knowledge gained from these studies will advance fundamental understanding of physiologically important receptor activation and efficacy, while the approaches developed will enable similar investigation of other receptor classes.

Dr Stanley Cheng Xie - Inhibiting adenylate-forming enzymes via a new reaction-hijacking mechanism, $374,310.

This project aims to identify and validate the adenylate-forming enzymes that are susceptible to reaction-hijacking inhibition in malaria parasites. This class of enzymes can be induced to synthesise their own nucleoside sulfamate inhibitor conjugates via a novel mechanism. This project expects to provide new knowledge about the molecular basis of this novel inhibition mechanism and susceptible target enzymes in the parasites. Adenylate-forming enzymes play critical roles in a diverse range of biochemical pathways, such as protein translation and fatty acid metabolism. The project seeks to deliver a new paradigm for the design of future antiparasitic agents.

For full details of the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award 2023 round 1 funding outcomes, please visit the ARC DECRA website.