La Trobe receives ARC Future Fellowships

The Australian Research Council (ARC) has awarded prestigious Future Fellowships to two molecular scientists from La Trobe University.

Federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham has announced La Trobe’s Megan Maher and Suresh Mathivanan are among the 2018 recipients of ARC Future Fellowships.

The Fellowships provide funding to outstanding mid-career researchers to support research in areas of critical national importance.

Dr Maher and Dr Mathivanan, who are researchers from the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS), will receive a total of $1,756,250 in funding over the next four years.

LIMS Director, Professor Andrew Hill, congratulated both.

“I am delighted that Dr Megan Maher and Dr Suresh Mathivanan have been awarded these prestigious fellowships to answer important questions at the interface of health and science,” Professor Hill said.

“They are the latest in a growing list of LIMS researchers awarded ARC Future Fellowships and their success is a reflection of the University’s unwavering commitment to innovative and interdisciplinary research.”

Dr Maher - The structural biology of trace metal trafficking across membranes - $878,125

This project aims to investigate how essential trace element nutrients are recognised and specifically acquired and expelled by bacterial cells. Cells are surrounded by biomembrances that separate and protect them from their environments. Embedded within these membranes are proteins that perform essential functions. In bacteria, membrane proteins are responsible for the uptake and elimination of trace elements that are required for survival. This project will investigate the features of integral membrane proteins that allow discrimination between cargo, by defining their three dimensional architectures using  X-ray crystallography. This will contribute to the field of membrane protein structural biology and fundamental discoveries in the area of cellular trace element homeostasis and toxicity.

Dr Mathivanan – Understanding the biogenesis of exosomes - $878,125

This project aims to understand how exosomes are made in human cells. Exosomes are small packages that are released by cells, which mediate communication between cells. Currently, very little is known about how exosomes are made within a cell. This project expects to identify key proteins involved in the production of the exosomes and to understand exosomes synthesis, thereby expanding our knowledge on how cells regulate communication signals. Dissecting how exosomes are produced at the fundamental level will provide significant benefits, such as deeper understanding of how cells maintain normal cellular functions.

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