La Trobe young researchers recognised

Two La Trobe University researchers received prestigious Young Tall Poppy Science awards at a ceremony last Monday.

Dr Ivan Poon and Associate Professor Brian Abbey were among ten outstanding young researchers who were recognised for their commitment to world-class science research.

The annual Tall Poppy awards are run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) to recognise the achievements of young researchers.

Associate Professor Brian Abbey

La Trobe University


X‐ray crystallography allows science to ‘see’ the structure of molecules so that we may better understand biological processes. Associate Professor Brian Abbey’s research has been critical in developing new methods to image proteins and membrane proteins with X‐rays without the need for high‐quality crystals. Recently he also led Australia’s first ever experiment on the world’s most powerful X‐ray laser, the X‐ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL) at Stanford University which was published in respected journal Science Advances.

Dr Ivan Poon

La Trobe University

Cell Biology and Biochemistry

Programmed cell death, or apoptosis, occurs in essentially all tissues in the body as part of normal

development. During apoptosis, dying cells can disassemble into smaller vesicles called apoptotic bodies. Despite being an important process, the mechanism underpinning apoptotic body formation is poorly defined. Dr Ivan Poon studies this mechanism and recently discovered a new step in the process of cell death which was published in Nature in 2014.

His ongoing research will identify pharmacological compounds that could modulate this process. Determining the molecular mechanism behind cell fragmentation could lead to new treatments for diseases associated with cell death, including cardiovascular, autoimmune and infectious diseases.