NHMRC Ideas Grants success for Microbiology & Immunology researchers

Take a look at some of the innovative ideas and projects in DMI that have been awarded funding.

Congratulations to Drs Brendon Chua, Abderrahman Hachani, Sacha Pidot and Nichollas Scott who have all received a highly competitive Ideas Grant.

Dr Brendon Chua, Research Fellow, Kedzierska Lab

Project: A metabolic enzyme as a target for controlling tumourigenesis

Brendon’s research team in Professor Katherine Kedzierska’s lab, has identified a key metabolic pathway involved in driving cancer. The NHMRC Ideas Grant funding will enable the team to thoroughly investigate how this pathway promotes disease outcomes.

While survival rates have improved over the years, there is still a great need to understand what drives tumour growth and develop new treatments that can be consistently effective.

Dr Abdou Hachani, Research Fellow

Project: Dissecting the intracellular lifestyle of lethal Staphylococcus aureus

Pictured: Dr Hachani at the microscope, seeing Golden Staph colonising human "mini-noses" for the first time

The bacterial superbug Staphylococcus aureus (golden staph) causes infection of the bloodstream, a serious condition with a high death toll. Led by Dr Abdou Hachani, this project uses the combined power of cutting-edge cell biology and computational science to understand how golden staph causes life-threatening invasive disease.

This research will lay the foundation for innovative treatments and diagnosis of golden staph, an area of intense international interest with the rise of antibiotic resistance.

Dr Sacha Pidot, Head of Antibiotic Discovery and Biosynthesis Lab

Project: A genomics-powered ultrahigh-throughput pipeline for rapid antibiotic discovery

The rise of multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacterial infections in both hospitals and the community is one of the most serious health issues of our time and the development of new antibiotics is key to averting this human health crisis

Funding from the NHMRC Ideas Grant means Sacha’s team can build upon their earlier work and discoveries in the area of new antibiotics.

The project will accelerate the antibiotic discovery process, allowing investigation of previously unseen bacteria and find antibiotics to combat multi-drug resistant infections, using an innovative combination of microfluidics, microbiology and chemistry.

“This will provide lead compounds for antimicrobial development that will help to prevent the return of a pre-antibiotic era," Sacha said.

Dr Nichollas Scott, Head of Scott Lab

Project: Defining the roles of O-linked glycosylation on Burkholderia virulence

In this project, Nicholas and his team are seeking to identify how a specific set of proteins, known as glycoproteins, contribute to the human pathogen, Burkholderia virulence. This is done using a novel high-throughput technology known as CRISPRi silencing.

The NHMRC support will allow my team to continue looking at how bacterial glycosylation shapes Burkholderia virulence. We hope to identify next generation vaccines and one day deliver new ways to combat life-threatening infections