Seven new Group Leader positions; systems biology hotshots in Melbourne; and training around the country.

Bulletins, EMBL Australia

EMBL Australia is growing. We will be advertising seven new Group Leader positions in the coming months taking us to eleven group leaders based in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.

Our newest node, at the University of NSW, is now recruiting two EMBL Australia Group Leaders in Single Molecule Science – providing fully funded research positions for 5 years to the successful applicants, extendable to 9 years upon successful review.

A further four new EMBL Australia Group Leader opportunities are also being created at Monash University.

Two of these researchers will be in protein crystallography and electron microscopy and will have natural synergy with the structural and cell biology directions of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Molecular Imaging.

The other two Group Leaders at Monash will be recruited in development and regenerative medicine, joining the two existing Group Leaders at ARMI, the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute.

Then at SAHMRI in Adelaide, another Group Leader will be recruited to join our two existing group leaders in medical bioinformatics.

This further expansion of EMBL into Australia is a fantastic validation of the EMBL model, which gives exceptional young scientists from around the world the opportunity to focus on their research programs here in Australia without having to worry about base funding.

It’s also a busy time for our systems biology folk, with the International Conference on Systems Biology kicking off in Melbourne on 14 September.

For EMBL Australia, systems biology is an important facet of modern life science research, bringing together diverse data ranging from genomes, proteins or metabolites to clinical phenotypes to provide a true model of life’s complexity.

I’m really looking forward to the conference, hearing the latest developments in systems biology, and how it is being applied to areas of life science as diverse as cancer research, agriculture, microbiology, and global healthcare. Registration is still open, but if you can’t be there, you can follow along on social media – following #IC4SysBiol.

Best wishes,

Professor Nadia Rosenthal
Scientific Head, EMBL Australia

Please note that all replies to this newsletter go to If you wish to email me directly, my address is

In this month’s newsletter:

Systems biology innovator and a pioneer join conference in Melbourne

In just over a week, EMBL Australia, along with CSIRO and Bioplatforms Australia, are hosting the International Conference of Systems Biology (ICSB2014).

Systems biology is an integration of all areas of biology including computer science, engineering, chemistry and biomedical research.

The conference will be attended by a mix of those who consider themselves ‘systems biologists’ and those who are curious about how the system biology ‘tools’ can help them with their research—whether in genomics, agriculture, IVF or medicine.

If you’re still not sure what systems biology is, here is a good summary by Sarah Boyd from SBI Australia:

The conference is your opportunity to see the leaders of two of the world’s most influential systems biology institutes under one roof.

  • Dr Leroy Hood, Institute of Systems Biology, United States of America – known as an innovator, great thinker and focussed on the big vision
  • Prof Hiroaki Kitano, Systems Biology Institute, Japan – a pioneer in systems biology, he promotes systems biology research for healthcare and global sustainability.

Other key speakers at the conference include:

  • Prof. Philippe Bastiaens, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Biology Dortmund, Germany
  • Brenda Andrews, The Banting and Best Department of Medical Research, Canada

A complete program can be found on the website

And for more information on registration

If you can’t be there, follow the conversation on Twitter: @IC4SysBiol and #IC4SysBiol

Wanted: EMBL Australia Group Leaders in Single Molecule Science @ UNSW 

UNSW’s Centre for Single Molecule Science is seeking future research leaders to develop novel conceptual and experimental approaches for challenging problems in biology and medicine.

The Centre has established two EMBL Australia Group Leader positions to underpin their status as a research node of EMBL Australia.

The successful applicants will define and drive a new research field that seeks to understand complex biological processes and systems starting from the single molecule level, and to derive practical medical applications from that knowledge.

Applicants with trans-disciplinary research experience are strongly encouraged. Research questions in cancer, immunology, neuroscience, cardiovascular biology and other fields are welcome.

The successful applicants will lead their research teams in a dynamic, highly collaborative, and internationally focused environment and have the opportunity to further expand their research program through external grants and fellowships.

The two EMBL Australia Group Leader positions provide generous funding for five years with the option to extend it for another four years.

“At EMBL Australia, young researchers get a flying start to their careers with the security of continued funding. Nurturing our young research talent by providing career and training opportunities with more certainty will have the most far-reaching benefits for biomedical outcomes in this country,” says EMBL Australia’s Scientific Head Nadia Rosenthal.

Applications close on 19 October, 2014, with an anticipated start date of late 2015/early 2016.

More details, including full descriptions of the two positions, are available at

And there’s more EMBL Australia Group Leaders on the way

Monash University in Melbourne will be looking for:

  • researchers with interests in electron microscopy and protein crystallography for two positions within the Faculty of Biomedical and Psychological Sciences’ Biomedical Discovery Institute, with ties to the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging. Applicants should have expertise in correlative light and electron microscopy, high-resolution electron tomography or the use of electron microscopy to determine protein structure, or have a strong track record in protein crystallography of protein membrane systems. More details to come at:
  • a further two scientists with research interests in broad aspects of development and regeneration will be recruited to join EMBL Australia’s first two Group Leaders, Edwina McGlinn and Nicolas Plachta, at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute. More details to come at:

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) will also soon open applications for:

  • the third of its three Group Leader positions in medical bioinformatics. The successful applicant will join Ville Mäkinen and David Lynn at the Adelaide-based Institute. More details to come at:

When all open positions have been filled, the total number of EMBL Australia Group Leaders will rise from four to 11 – and take EMBL Australia halfway to its goal of supporting 20 researchers around the country.

Each position will provide the successful applicant with an initial five years of funding, extendable to a maximum of nine years, subject to external review.

“The establishment of EMBL Australia Group Leader positions by our partners underscores the value in providing future research leaders with funding security and the opportunity to launch innovative research programs,” says EMBL Australia’s Scientific Head Nadia Rosenthal.

In other news

SBI Australia’s model networks

Modelling gene regulatory networks is crucial to understanding how genetic components interact to carry out cellular processes.

“A network model is a great way to understand relationships among components of a system and we need models that faithfully capture real network behaviour,” says Van Tran, a visiting PhD candidate at SBI Australia. “Genetic data has noise and errors, which have to be accommodated.”

By successfully reconstructing these networks, researchers can predict cellular behaviour in response to external stimuli like stress or carcinogens. And the identification of influential genes in the network can illuminate the development of certain diseases and targeted therapeutic approaches.

Van’s approach uses a statistical technique known as the Neighbourhood Sampler, which was developed by Monash mathematician Dr Jonathan Keith, to build model gene regulatory networks. This technique allows her to “sample” networks to better estimate the relationships, such as up regulation and down regulation, between different elements of the network.

In collaboration with Dr Keith and SBI Australia researcher Dr Sarah Boyd, Van has successfully tested her approach on both small synthetic networks and a real genetic regulatory network—the budding yeast cell cycle. The next step will be to test it on larger more complex networks, and compare it to other inference methods.

Van is working on better methods for reconstructing gene regulatory networks. Her research at the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, is focused on graphical network modelling and experimental design.

Van will be presenting her research at the International Conference on Systems Biology which starts next Sunday.

Van’s visit to SBI Australia has been supported by the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute, a program from the Australian Academy of Science and the US National Science Foundation.

Need a genome?  We’ve got 80

Genome Browser Roadshow comes to Australia in September

If you need access to a genome, or part of one, come along to see how to use the UCSC Genome Browser.

For 14 years the UCSC Genome Browser has been providing a visual display for genomic data from humans and other organisms, now numbering more than 80. Serving nearly 200,000 different users monthly, the Browser has grown to be a collection of bioinformatics tools useful for many applications in biomedical research, including:

  • The Genome Browser zooms and scrolls over chromosomes, showing the work of annotators worldwide
  • The Gene Sorter shows expression, homology and other information on groups of genes that can be related in many ways
  • Blat quickly maps your sequence to the genome
  • The Table Browser provides convenient access to the underlying database
  • VisiGene lets you browse through a large collection of in situ mouse and frog images to examine gene expression patterns
  • Genome Graphs allows you to upload and display genome-wide data sets.

Dr Robert Kuhn, Associate Director of the UCSC Genome Browser, is back in Australia this month to deliver a series of seminars and workshops around the country on the use and applications of the Browser.

The Roadshow starts on 8 September in Brisbane with Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide following. To register:

Unlocking clinical research roadmaps using a systems approach

SBI Australia is holding its next Systems Biology Collaborative as a free event during the International Conference of Systems Biology. 

New systems biology platforms are emerging that offer researchers unique and sensitive navigation tools for the translation of basic medical research into clinical outcomes.

For a look at how these new tools can assist with drug discovery, translation into effective therapies and the regulatory hurdles that need to be overcome on the way to the clinic, join our panel of experts:

  • Jonathan Fitzgerald, VP Discovery, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals
  • Maureen Turner, CEO BioGrid Australia
  • Hiroaki Kitano, President, Systems Biology Institute, Japan

The Collaborative will be held on Monday 15 September from 12:45-2:00pm, in Room 218 at the Melbourne Convention Centre.

The Systems Biology Collaborative is part of the Enhancing Systems Biology in Victoriaprogram, run by SBI Australia with support from the Victorian State Government.

MAXIMA brings maths to summer

Need to know more maths? Or wondered how bioinformatics could help you with your research?

BioInfoSummer is an annual series, which introduces bioinformatics and mathematical and computational biology to advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, researchers and professionals. It’s designed for people working in the fields of mathematics, statistics, computer science, information technology, complex systems analysis, and biological, chemical and medical sciences and engineering.

They are themes well suited to this year’s host, the Monash Academy for Cross & Interdisciplinary Mathematical Applications (MAXIMA). MAXIMA is a new initiative at Monash University that partners mathematicians with researchers in other areas to help solve important societal challenges through collaborative research, industry partnerships, education and training.

This year’s BioInfoSummer will be held at Monash University from 1-5 December and will feature 15 national and international speakers with a focus on:

  • Introduction to molecular biosciences and bioinformatics
  • Next-generation DNA sequencing and sequence evolution
  • High-throughput technology and -omics data analysis
  • Methods in bioinformatics
  • Systems biology

Early bird registrations for BioInfoSummer close on 14 September.

Travel bursaries are available for students living outside Melbourne, see for more information.

Events coming up

If you have events to add to the EMBL Australia events calendar, drop us a note at with the details and a link for more information.

UCSC Genome Browser Roadshow
08/09/2014- 26/09/2014, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth

15th International Conference on Systems Biology
14/09/2014–18/09/2014 Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Unlocking unique clinical research roadmaps using a systems approach: A Systems Biology Collaborative

15/9/2014 Melbourne Convention Centre

Australian Bioinformatics Conference (ABiC 2014)
11/10/2014–12/10/2014 Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne

Towards precision medicine: Phenotyping human diseases in mice: The 16th Frank and Bobbie Fenner Conference
20/10/2014–21/10/2014 The John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University, Canberra

01/12/2014-05/12/2014 Monash University, Melbourne

EMBL Australia PhD Symposium: Research in life sciences: in vitro to in vivo
3/12/2014 University of NSW, Sydney

For a full list of upcoming events, head to the EMBL Australia events page.

About EMBL Australia

EMBL – the European Molecular Biology Laboratory – is Europe’s flagship for the life sciences. The Australian government joined EMBL as an Associate Member in 2008.

EMBL Australia is an unincorporated joint venture between members of the Group of Eight universities and the CSIRO, supported by the Australian government.

Read more about EMBL Australia