La Trobe University Alumni Lecture

Leading researcher in molecular and cellular biology, Nick Hoogenraad, will speak about life and science when he delivers the La Trobe University Alumni Lecture at the State Library of Victoria next Wednesday, 12 October 2011.

HoogenraadProfessor Hoogenraad is Director of Melbourne’s new-generation $94million La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS) and a passionate advocate for science in school classrooms.

Discoveries over more than three decades by him and his research teams have helped in the fight against mitochondrial diseases ranging from genetic disorders of metabolism in newborn children to diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular problems.

They have led to the development of ‘biomarkers’ which serve as therapeutic targets for monoclonal antibodies, ‘magic bullets’, directed by modern medicine against diseased cells such as cancer cells.

Professor Hoogenraad recently joined a select group of 130 distinguished scientists, including Sir Rutherford Robertson, Sir Gustav Nossal and Professor Peter Doherty, whose life stories have been filmed and recorded by the Australian Academy of Science.

La Trobe University Alumni Officer, Rebecca Camilleri, says the conversational format of the free event is designed to encourage former graduates of the University and the people of Melbourne to hear about Professor Hoogenraad’s fascinating journey into science.

‘It will cover his early years in war-torn Netherlands, his move to Australia, leaving school at 15 to work at sea, and his pioneering research and discoveries in molecular and cellular biology.’

Professor Hoogenraad says the ‘holy grail’ of his research is how a cell co-ordinates the activities of so many genes. ‘Is there some kind of ‘master switch’ which controls all these genes?’ 

He says the new La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science uses both ‘laboratory-based molecular genetics and a computational approach to examine a large number of genes encoding mitochondrial proteins to try to find some unifying information by which this control mechanism may occur’.

The facility will also open its doors on a regular basis to secondary schools in an innovative effort to encourage the next generation of scientists.

Time: 6.00pm followed by refreshments
Venue: Village Roadshow Theatrette,
Address: La Trobe Street, Melbourne
Admission: free, but RSVPs essential. Please email:

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