EMBL Australia

Australia is the first Associate Member of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). EMBL Australia provides Australian researchers access to Europe’s flagship laboratory for the Life Sciences, through activities such as funded research positions, collaborative ventures and the formation of research institutes.

Head to tail: the molecules that tell you how to grow a backbone

Growing the right number of vertebrae in the right places is an important job – and scientists have found the molecules that act like ‘theatre directors’ for vertebrae genes in mice: telling them how much or how little to express themselves.

The finding may give insight into how the body-shapes of different species of animals evolved, since the molecules under scrutiny are present in a wide range of animals – from fish to snakes to humans.

An international team led by Dr Edwina McGlinn of EMBL Australia [1] at Monash University found that de-activating a small group of microRNA (miRNA) molecules sent things awry for different parts of the backbone.

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

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. [continue reading…]

Life began at 40; recruiting a node to transform medicine; and bioinformatics in the Senate.

Posted on behalf of Nadia Rosenthal, Scientific Head, EMBL Australia

When EMBL began 40 years ago in 1974, scientists were still working out how to fertilise human eggs in the lab and then implant them, and the first DNA sequencing methods were trickling out only a few base pairs per year.

Now, we’re delving deeper than ever before into the molecular processes underlying developmental biology, and you can have your personal genome sequenced commercially for under $1000. How far we’ve come in 40 years.

At EMBL Australia, we’re continuing this journey of discovery—I’m pleased to announce that we’re partnering with the University of New South Wales in Sydney to set up a new node of EMBL Australia—the UNSW Centre in Single Molecule Science.

The Centre’s goal will be to develop novel conceptual and experimental approaches for challenging problems in biology and medicine by linking molecular processes to functional outcomes.

Soon, we’ll be seeking the future research leaders to head the research teams at the Centre. Please read on for more information from EMBL Australia on these positions and other news.

Congratulations to Peter Currie and his colleagues at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research for discovering what he calls,“the Brownlow medalists of stem cells”. Their work has been released today in Nature.

We are looking forward to seeing many of you at the upcoming International Conference on Systems Biology, sponsored by EMBL Australia, in Melbourne from 14-18 September.
Best wishes,

Professor Nadia Rosenthal
Scientific Head, EMBL Australia
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Life sciences melting-pot in Canberra; call now open to host our bio data resource; life science events and training

Posted on behalf of Nadia Rosenthal, Scientific Head, EMBL Australia

Earlier this month I spent time with 60 talented students at our annual EMBL Australia PhD course in Canberra. For me, this course is the highlight of the whole EMBL enterprise. It’s a celebration of enthusiasm, discovery and excitement for the life sciences, and a great way for young scientists to connect with new knowledge and each other. Congratulations to the students and the organisers, and I look forward to keeping in touch with you all in the future.

Not only are we investing in our future science leaders, but also in our science infrastructure. I’m delighted to announce the call for expressions of interest to host our life sciences data resource – the Bioinformatics Resource Australia-EMBL (BRAEMBL). It is a proposed national infrastructure that will strengthen Australia’s exploitation of a global biomolecular data network, and help to keep us integrated and competitive in bioinformatics research, services and training.

I’ve also just returned from Europe, where I was introduced to the UK’s Academy of Medical Sciences. The motto of the Academy is “improving health through research”, which is a central goal of EMBL Australia. I am enormously proud to be included in this year’s newly inducted Fellows, including my friend and colleague Professor Dame Janet Thornton, Director of EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute. Janet will also be helping us shape BRAEMBL in the future.

Back in Australia, we recently helped SAHMRI (the new South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) officially launch the science inside that creativity-inspiring building. The speed at which the institute has begun to develop inside their new home is a testament to the organisational skills and inspirational direction of its leadership. And we’re immensely proud that our EMBL Australia South Australian node is a part of the SAHMRI journey. [continue reading…]

The EMBL model – 40 years young and still supporting early career researchers and students

Posted on behalf of Nadia Rosenthal, Scientific Head, EMBL Australia

This month I’m visiting Heidelberg for the 40th anniversary celebrations for EMBL. It’s a time for celebration and excitement about things to come, but it’s also a time for reflecting on the values that have made EMBL a success, and the importance of those values for Australian science.

EMBL (the European Molecular Biology Laboratory) was created in 1974 to internationalise molecular biology. At its core was a vision to nurture and develop the talents of the best and brightest minds in Europe – students and young researchers, who remain the lifeblood of all the EMBL campuses today.

At EMBL Australia, we offer students the chance to connect back with EMBL through our travel grants program, which sends off Aussie researchers to spend time at EMBL labs, attend courses and conferences, or even undertake their PhD at EMBL. We’ve just awarded another round of travel grants, and applications are now open for Australian students to attend the EMBL PhD Symposium in Germany. [continue reading…]

Understand my genome to understand yours; our take on the budget; and boosting bioinformatics

Posted on behalf of Nadia Rosenthal, Scientific Head, EMBL Australia

There’s exciting news for medical research in the first Abbott budget, but mixed news for science as a whole.

I’m looking forward to seeing the details of the new Medical Research Future Fund, and the research destined to come out of it. It’s also great to see the support for science infrastructure – with $150 million for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

There’s some good news for mid-career researchers too with 100 more Future Fellowships. But unfortunately, some of our collaborators did not fare so well.

Overall, I look forward to exploring the implications of this budget for the future of EMBL Australia.

One thing I am certain about is that genomics will continue to play an important role in medical research. [continue reading…]

Jobs at EMBL Australia, PhD training course, and new research

Posted on behalf of Nadia Rosenthal, Scientific Head, EMBL Australia

It’s been a pretty exciting time for EMBL Australia lately, with international visitors, new group leaders, and even a Nature paper.

But the one thing which really stood out for me in the past year was our EMBL Australia PhD Course.

At last year’s course at WEHI in Melbourne, we spent two weeks with 60 passionate and enthusiastic PhD students.

Not only did the students learn the tools of the trade from top researchers, they also formed an invaluable network of peers, who will hold their own student-run symposium in Sydney later this year.

This year we’ll bring together another 60 PhD students at ANU in Canberra. Applications are open now – read on for more details.

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Join the systems biology revolution; meet our new SA group leaders; travel grants

In this month’s newsletter:

Posted on behalf of Nadia Rosenthal, Scientific Head, EMBL Australia
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Travel grants, prizes and conferences: a year of idea-sharing ahead

In this month’s newsletter:

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Australia’s membership of EMBL to be renewed, your first hug and other news

In this month’s newsletter:

  • Upcoming events
  • About EMBL Australia
  • Posted on behalf of Nadia Rosenthal, Scientific Head, EMBL Australia

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