EMBL Australia was created in 2008 to maximise the benefits of Australia’s associate membership of EMBL.

EMBL Australia creates opportunities for:

  • internationalising Australian research
  • empowering and training our best early career researchers and research leaders
  • embedding powerful new enabling tools such as bioinformatics and systems biology in Australian life science.

What does that mean?

EMBL Australia gives young research leaders up to nine years of security subject to performance – enabling them to take risks and ask big questions. Most young researchers in Australia have at best three to four years of grant certainty. Many have less.

EMBL Australia gives Australia’s best PhD students the chance to start to develop international networks and alliances and ‘calibrate’ their work via EMBL’s European programs, workshops and conferences.

EMBL Australia provides training programs for PhD students in Australia – giving them a head start in their science careers.

EMBL Australia links Australian researchers to three powerhouses of life science research:

EMBL with more than 1400 people from 60 nations;
EBI – the European Bioinformatics Institute – sharing terabytes of data with the life science community;
Japan’s Systems Biology Institute.

EMBL Australia’s core program

EMBL Australia plans to work with its members and others to create a total of 18 to 20 research groups around Australia – offering hosting institutions access to the scientific excellence and scientific governance which drives EMBL and EMBL Australia.

The Victorian node at Monash University currently hosts four research groups within the Faculty of Biomedical and Psychological Sciences:

  • Dr Edwina McGlinn and her team are working to understand the genes controlling formation of the skeleton and neural circuits.
  • Dr Chen Davidovich is studying key proteins involved in the maintenance of stem cell fate, and which play an important role in multiple cancers.
  • A/Professor Max Cryle is be using a combination of techniques to understand and harness the major protein machines that catalyse the production of some of the most important antibiotics in clinical use.  
  • Dr Mikaël Martino is focusing on the immune regulations of stem cells and regeneration, seeking to design regenerative medicine strategies integrating a control of the immune system. 

The South Australian node of EMBL Australia at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) hosts two groups, with plans for this to increase to three in 2015. The groups are supported by the University of Adelaide, University of South Australia and Flinders University.

  • Dr David Lynn has joined the SAHMRI Infection and Immunity theme where he is investigating the regulation of the innate immune system from a genome-wide or systems level perspective. 
  • Dr Ville-Petteri Mäkinen has joined the Heart Health research theme at SAHMRI where he is using big data to better understand pathologic phenomena at the intersection of aging, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Dr Pirjo Apaja and team are focusing on organelle biology and disease, investigating mechanisms in autophagy and endo-lysosome network trafficking and their contribution to disease conditions such as neurological disorders and cancer.

The New South Wales Node of EMBL Australia comprises 

  • A research group led Dr Yann Gambin is based at the University of New South Wales Unit, within the Centre in Single Molecule Science. He combines single molecule detection and microfluidics to develop a microscopy based pipeline to readily study protein-protein interactions at high resolution.
  • A research group led Dr Mate Biro also at the UNSW Unit within the Centre in Single Molecule Science. He studies actomyosin mechanisms during cytotoxic T cell action and the elucidation of biomechanical cell-cell interaction between T and target cancer.


EMBL Australia Bioinformatics Resource (EMBL-ABR) led by Dr Andrew Lonie and based at The University of Melbourne with networked service providers in Queensland (Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation), Sydney, (The University of Sydney School of Biological Sciences and Sydney Medical School), Western Australia (Centre of Excellence in Plant Biology), Adelaide, (University of Adelaide, Flinders University and SAHMRI) and Tasmania (Menzies Research Institute).

The Australian life-science research community recognises a need for increased bioinformatics capability and access to expertise and EMBL-ABR helps to satisfy that need through:

  • enabling optimal exploitation of the tools and data of bioinformatics by Australian scientists
  • contributing to the global biomolecular information infrastructure in a way which showcases Australian science
  • engaging in Australia-wide training and user support in provision of these goals

The EMBL Australia Student Program provides training – giving students a head start in their science careers. Highlights include:

  • Travel grants for PhD students to attend the EMBL PhD Symposium in Europe.
  • Joint PhDs with EMBL via the International PhD program.
  • The EMBL Australia PhD Course – an annual two-week intensive course in Australia for 60 first-year PhD students.
  • The EMBL Australia PhD Student Symposium – organised by PhD students for PhD students.

EMBL Australia provides financial support to the Australian Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Society (ABACBS) to progress the development of the Bioinformatics profession in Australia and includes 

  • provision for sponsorship for the annual national bioinformatics training schools (the Winter School in Mathematical and Computational Biology and BioInfoSummer).
  • contribution to the maintenance of the main communication portal for the society and more than 700 registered members of ABACBS.
  • support the continued development of an annual Australian Bioinformatics Conference, and,
  • generally support the professional society. 

Future nodes and programs will be developed as funds and opportunities arise.

EMBL - Australia Collaborating Groups

The EMBL – Australia Collaborating Group Program has been established to recognise strong and direct collaborative links between Australia and EMBL researchers.

  • an EMBL - Australia Collaborating Laboratory is defined as an active collaboration between a research group in Australia and an EMBL group that 
  • has shared funding/grant applications
  • has shared bylines on publications
  • is, or is expected to be longstanding (min 2 years)
  • necessitates geographical exchange of staff and students as appropriate, and 
  • is approved as such by the EMBL Australia Scientific Head

Current Collaborating Groups include

  • Prof Thomas Preiss (Australian National University) and Prof Matthias Hentze (EMBL Heidelberg) 
  • A/Prof James Bourne (Monash University) and Dr Cornelius Gross (EMBL Monterotondo)
  • Dr Mirana Ramialison (Monash University
  • Dr Eileen Furlong (EMBL Heidelberg)


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