Senior Leadership Group
The La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science is led by an experienced team who understand the importance of scientific innovation and translatable research outcomes.
Director, Professor Andrew Hill, is an expert on neurodegenerative diseases. He has published over 150 research papers and edited three books.
Professor Brian Smith is Head of the School of Molecular Sciences. Dr Mark Hulett is LIMS Research Director; Dr Michael Angove is Head of Pharmacy and Applied Science; Dr Narelle Brack is Head of Chemistry and Physics, and Dr Robyn Murphy is Head of Biochemistry and Genetics.
The wider executive team includes Dr Adam Mechler and Dr David Wilson, who lead the Graduate Research Team and Teaching and Learning Committee respectively. Dr Megan Maher leads the Postgraduate Coursework portfolio and Dr Matthew Perugini the Research Infrastructure portfolios.
Professor Andrew Hill
Professor Hill obtained his PhD at Imperial College London, in 1998. He held postdoctoral positions in the MRC Prion Unit (London) and the Department of Pathology at The University of Melbourne as a Wellcome Trust Prize Travelling Research Fellow. Professor Hill joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne in 2002 and moved his laboratory into the Bio21 Institute when it opened in 2005. At The University of Melbourne he was the Biosciences Domain Coordinator (2011-14) and Associate Director (Structural and Cellular Biology) of the Bio21 Institute (2013-15). In 2015, Professor Hill was appointed Head of Biochemistry and Genetics at La Trobe University and Director of the university's Research Focus Area, Understanding Disease. In 2016 he was elected President of the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV).
Professor Hill's research team uses in vitro and in vivo models to look at how abnormal proteins and RNA travel from cell to cell and are involved in neurodegenerative diseases. His laboratory also works on the biology of small noncoding RNA and their potential use as diagnostics in neurological and infectious diseases. He has published over 150 research papers and edited three books.
For further information on Professor Andrew Hill's research, visit his lab page.
Professor Brian Smith
Professor Brian Smith is Head of the School of Molecular Sciences.
Professor Smith obtained his PhD in Chemistry at The University of Melbourne. He held a postdoctoral position at the Research School of Chemistry in Canberra before returning to Melbourne in 1991 to join the Biomolecular Research Institute as a research scientist. In 2000 he moved to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute as a founding member of the Structural Biology division. In 2011 he moved to La Trobe University, where he was appointed the inaugural LIMS Principal Research Fellow. In 2015 he became Head of the Department of Chemistry and Physics.
Professor Smith is a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, and is the current president of the Association of Molecular Modellers of Australasia. He is skilled in the determination of protein structure by X-ray crystallography, in the analysis of protein structure, and in the design of protein mimetics and small-molecule inhibitors of protein function. He has published over 140 research papers.
For further information on Professor Brian Smith's research, visit his lab page.
Dr Mark Hulett
Dr Mark Hulett is Deputy Director of LIMS.
Dr Hulett completed his PhD at The University of Melbourne on the structure-function of leukocyte Fc receptors. He was awarded an NHMRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (1995-98) to continue his work on Fc receptors at the Austin Research Institute. Dr Hulett moved to the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR) in 1999 where he cloned the heparan sulphate-degrading enzyme heparanase and described its important role in tumour progression. He was awarded a Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellowship in 2002, and established an independent laboratory at the JCSMR to study molecular aspects of cell invasion. In 2008 Dr Hulett moved his research group to La Trobe University. Dr Hulett is a past-president of the Australian Society of Medical Research, was the Research Director of LIMS from 2012-2016, and is now the Deputy Director of LIMS .
Dr Hulett’s research interests include the function of heparanase in cancer and inflammatory disease, and therapeutic applications of innate defence molecules. He has published over 70 articles in refereed scientific journals and eight patents.
For further information on Dr Mark Hulett's research, visit his lab page.
Dr Michael Angove
Dr Michael Angove is Head of the Department of Pharmacy and Applied Science.
Dr Angove obtained his PhD in surface chemistry and soil science at La Trobe University. In 2008 he became Head of the Department of Pharmacy and Applied Science at La Trobe University's Bendigo campus. Dr Angove also serves as Director of Transnational Education for PSB Academy, a partner institution delivering La Trobe University courses in Singapore.
Dr Angove specialises in environmental chemistry, with a particular focus on soils impacted by human activity and bushfires. He has worked with a range of organisations, including EPA Victoria, on the management of contaminated soils, water and sediments. He has also worked on projects in the Victorian high country, investigating the long term impact of the 2003, 2008 and 2013 bushfires on soil environments.
For further information on Dr Michael Angove's research, visit his lab page.
Dr Narelle Brack
Dr Narelle Brack is Head of the Department of Chemistry and Physics.
Dr Brack completed her PhD within the Department of Chemistry at The University of New South Wales. She held a postdoctoral position at CSIRO Molecular Science before moving to La Trobe in 1998 to commence a post-doctoral position within the Department of Physics. In 2005, she was appointed to lecturer within the Department of Physics and then promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2007.
Dr Brack specializes in materials and surface chemistry. Her research focuses on surface science, in particular, exploring chemical and molecular properties and processes at surfaces and at interfaces. Surface modification strategies have been designed and developed for a diverse range of material systems including next generation aircraft materials, carbon nanomaterials and electrospun nanofibres. She has made significant contributions in research areas such as micropatterning of fluoropolymer surfaces, next generation aerospace materials, growth and manipulation of carbon nanotubes for advanced composite materials and surface modification of carbon nanomaterials for applications in ink jet printing and low density hierarchical composite materials. She has published over 60 research articles.
For further information on Dr Narelle Brack's research, visit her lab page.
Dr Robyn Murphy
Dr Robyn Murphy is Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Genetics.
Dr Murphy obtained her PhD at Deakin University, Melbourne in 2003. She held a postdoctoral position in the Department of Zoology, La Trobe University and a National Health and Medical Research Council Biomedical Peter Doherty Early Career Research Fellowship (2006-2009). In 2010, Dr Murphy began her academic career as a Senior Lecturer then Associate Professor in the Department of Zoology. She joined the Department of Biochemistry and Genetics in 2015. She is a past National Secretary of the Australian Physiological Society (2010-2013), and is a current Council member. She was appointed to the Research Group Executive for the International Biochemistry of Exercise (2012-current) and is an Executive member of the Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Research Focus Area, La Trobe University (2015-current).
Dr Murphy’s research team studies aspects of skeletal muscle biochemistry in health and disease, using exercise and disease models. The team uses microdissection techniques allowing them to isolate cellular changes by measuring proteins in segments of individual fibres. Such approaches allow issues with skeletal muscle heterogeneity to be overcome. Dr Murphy has published 70 research papers.
For further information on Dr Robyn Murphy’s research, visit her lab page.