EMCRA Seed Funding: Winners Announced!

Congratulations to the three recipients of the 2023 SBS EMCRA Seed Funding Grant: Drs Mriga Dutt (DAP), Aowen Zhuang (DBP) and Sarah Baines (DMI).

The School’s Early-Mid Career Researchers Association (EMCRA) launched its first annual Seed Funding Grant scheme last year.

Dr Justin Hardee, outgoing EMCRA Co-chair, said the scheme has replaced the SBS EMCRA Collaborative Award in recognition of changes and challenges in the research landscape.

The EMCRA Seed Funding Grant is designed to support innovative new research…the School recognises the value and importance of supporting the career development of EMCRAs towards establishing a track record of project management and innovative research that will underpin future bids for external competitive research funding.

A total of three grants of $40,000 were awarded to the leading applicant from each of the School’s three Departments.

Please join us in congratulating Drs Mriga Dutt (DAP), Aowen Zhuang (DBP) and Sarah Baines (DMI).

Dr Mriga Dutt is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Parker Laboratory, Dept Anatomy and Physiology (DAP). Mriga’s project Splice right for healthy ageing! will look at the protein known as ‘RNPS1’ and how it contributes to bone biology. Preliminary studies revealed that RNPS1 is down regulated and undergoes defective phosphorylation in insulin stimulated animal models. Phosphorylation is a process essential for the functioning of proteins.

Insulin promotes bone development…and using proteomics, long read RNA sequencing and zebrafish systems, I want to characterise RNPS1 phosphorylation and its role in bone biology.

Dr Aowen Shuang Research Fellow in the Anderson Lab, Dept. Biochemistry and Pharmacology will look at immune cell biology, lung inflammation and the development of sarcopenia muscle loss from immune cell infiltration in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Around 25% of patients with COPD will develop muscle wasting which halves the average survival rate. I hope my work will transform our understanding of immune cell biology and establish the preliminary data for major funding initiatives focused on improving health outcomes for all lung conditions.

Dr Sarah Baines, is a Research Fellow (Antimicrobial Resistance) in the Dept. Microbiology and Immunology. Through her project, Sarah wants to develop a framework for detailed tracking of antimicrobial resistance associated mutations in single-strain derived bacterial populations, using daptomycin antibiotic resistance in golden staph (Staphylococcus aureus) as a model.

With the current absence of suitable testing strategies to detect resistance mutations for real time disease management, having a more comprehensive understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of resistance mutations can help decision making for empiric therapy.

Learn more about the EMCRA in our recent article: Get active among the SBS EMCRA