News / 4 December 2019

EMBL Australia group leader Dr Harald Janovjak has been awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Projects Grant.

Dr Janovjak, hosted at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University, and his collaborators – Professor Colin Jackson and Associate Professor Zane Andrews – will receive $600,000 in funding for their project, titled ‘Engineered plant receptors as orthogonal neuronal switches’.

This interdisciplinary project aims to develop new synthetic biology methods to study the circuits that govern brain function by, for the first time, utilising engineered plant receptors.

Specifically, Dr Janovjak and his team will expand the ability of researchers to manipulate nerve cell function with high specificity and without side effects.

An innovative element of this proposal is that plant receptors will be developed into molecular tools in an iterative process that improves key properties using rational protein design.

The expected outcomes include broadly applicable neuroscience methods and an understanding of proteins involved in the growth and defence of plants that are important to Australian agriculture.

The Federal Government today announced $285 million in funding for 660 new research collaborations to start next year.  

"Our Government is investing in high-quality research and the future of Australian research being carried out in our universities," Minister for Education Dan Tehan said.

"The research done by our universities can lead to the development of new products and innovations that drive job growth, business opportunities and productivity gains.

"This investment will help develop solutions to problems in areas such as health, infrastructure, economics and the environment. "

The Discovery Projects scheme aims to support excellent research, as well as national and international collaborations, and to enhance the scale and focus of research in the Federal Government’s priority areas.

Less than one-quarter (23%) of project applications were successful.

Congratulations, Harald!