First Place Early Career Poster
Sarah is a PhD student working under the supervision of Prof. Mike Ryan, Dr Luke Formosa and Dr Kate McArthur in the Mitochondrial Biogenesis and Disease Lab at Monash University. Her research focusses on exploring how protein machineries on the mitochondrial surface help to relay messages about the health of mitochondria to other areas of the cell, as well as how they receive signals from other intracellular compartments. By extension, her work seeks to understand the mechanisms underlying a rare ageing syndrome linked to one of the genes involved in this process – known as Mandibuloacral Dysplasia associated to MTX2 (MADaM).
Runner Up Early Career Poster
Alex is PhD candidate at The University of Melbourne, under the supervision of Dr Diana Stojanovski. Alex researches how mitochondria function differently between the various cell-types found throughout the body – a phenomenon known as ‘cell-type specificity’. He is investigating pairs of closely related “sister” proteins which are unevenly distributed in the body. By describing what these proteins do within mitochondria, Alex hopes to understand a basis for cell-type specificity and its connection to mitochondrial disease. His work disclosed the functions of a pair of sister proteins, Tim8a and Tim8b. He found they are required for building the energy-production machinery within mitochondria. This provided a molecular mechanism for the neurodegeneration observed in cases of the mitochondrial disease Deafness-dystonia-optic neuronopathy (DDON). Currently, Alex is now investigating cell-type specificity in the mitochondrial response to stress.
First Place Early Career Talk
Dr. Daniella Hock is a Research Fellow in clinical proteomics at the University of Melbourne. She graduated from her PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2022 under supervision of A. Prof. David Stroud and Prof. David Thorburn. Her PhD research focused on developing quantitative proteomics as a tool for the diagnosis of mitochondrial diseases and other rare diseases. In her postdoctoral research, she continues to work towards reducing the rate of genetically undiagnosed patients. Her current efforts have been focusing on optimising and translating quantitative proteomics as a clinical test in Australia, and also developing a pipeline for rapid diagnosis of acute care patients.
Runner Up Early Career Talk
Danielle completed honours in molecular biology at the University of Western Australia and has recently completed her PhD at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research under the supervision of Prof Aleksandra Filipovska. During this time, she had the opportunity to investigate several models of mitochondrial disease. Her research interests are in understanding mitochondrial translation, its regulation and how this contributes to mitochondrial dysfunction. Danielle’s projects included how post-translational processing events regulate expression of the mRNA. By utilising transcriptomics techniques to investigate the unique features of mitochondrial RNA, Danielle was able to show that the FASTKD family proteins are important for the processing of non-canonical RNA junctions. During her PhD, Danielle developed an interest in bioinformatics analyses and visualisation of large omics datasets. This research interest has persisted, and Danielle remains a member of the Filipovska laboratory. She is looking forward to continuing to develop and implement techniques to analyse mitochondrial gene expression.
Student Poster Prize
Laura is a PhD student in Dr. Diana Stojanovski’s group within the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne. Her research aims to understand the interaction between the host cell mitochondria and the bacterial pathogen Coxiella burnetii during infection of the cell. Bacterial pathogens have evolved to manipulate the host cell using repertoires of bacterial proteins that are translocated into the host throughout the course of infection and modulate multiple cellular pathways and processes. Laura’s work has identified both bacterial proteins that are targeted to the mitochondria during C. burnetii infection as well as proteome-wide changes to the organelle in response to infection. Her work now focuses on understanding the specific contribution of these mitochondrial-targeted effector proteins to bacterial survival and pathogenesis.
Student Poster Prize
“HIGD2A is critical for the assembly of MT-CO3 module of Complex IV.”
Daniella Hock started her Ph.D in 2018 at The University of Melbourne under supervision of Dr. David Stroud and Prof. David Thorburn. Her main research focuses on developing quantitative proteomics as a tool for the diagnosis of mitochondrial diseases. The cohort of patients she is studying is comprised of patients suspected of mitochondrial disease but for whom DNA did not result in a diagnosis. Daniella is using quantitative proteomics to measure the changes in the patients at the protein level, and correlating that data with the DNA sequencing data to discover the causation of the disease. Daniella is also interested in understanding mitochondria biology from the disease perspective. She has been investigating a protein required for the assembly of complex IV, the fourth enzyme in the mitochondrial ATP production system, and how the misassembly of this complex leads to impaired mitochondrial function. This work was awarded the poster prize at the 2018 AussieMit.
‘Dynamin related protein 1 is necessary and sufficient for division of mitochondria and peroxisomes’
Felix is a PhD student at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, supervised by Prof Mike Ryan. He undertook his Bachelor of Science at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, Germany focusing on genetics in plant-microbe interactions.
In his Master studies in Munich, his research focus shifted to epigenetics and advanced light-microscopy. After working with Dr Peter Mergaert in Paris and Dr Lothar Schermelleh in Oxford, he returned to Munich to finish his degree in the laboratory of Prof Heinrich Leonhardt.
During his studies, Felix had the opportunity to attend the IUPAB conference in Australia, falling in love with the country.
Following a 6 months’ period working at the EMBL Australia in the laboratory of Prof Katharina Gaus and Jeremie Rossy at UNSW, he joined the Ryan lab as a PhD student in March 2016.
Best Young Investigator & Student Presentation
Best Tweet Award (sponsored by Miltenyi Biotec)
Cameron McKnight did his honours in biomedical science at University of Waterloo, in Canada minoring in biology and neuroscience. In 2015, Cameron moved to Australia to take on a masters in biomedical science at the University of Melbourne studying under Prof. David Thorburn and Dr Ann Frazier as part of the Brain and Mitochondrial research group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). Cameron’s masters project focused on using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in human embryonic stem cells to generate pluripotent stem cell models of mitochondrial disease. Now continuing as a PhD student with the same group, Cameron is differentiating those model stem cell lines into clinically relevant cell types to screen potential therapeutic strategies for mitochondrial diseases by studying the effects of promising drugs.
Best Young Investigator & Student Presentation
‘Mitochondrial herniation and the release of mtDNA’
Tahnee completed her undergraduate and Master’s studies at the University of Melbourne in 2014. She then moved to Boston where she worked as a Research Assistant in the laboratory of Assistant Professor Kate Jeffrey at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. In 2018, Tahnee returned to Melbourne to undertake her PhD in the laboratory of Professor Benjamin Kile at the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology Department within the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. Using a wide range of imaging modalities, including live-cell lattice light sheet microscopy, the Kile Lab characterised the first known mechanism of mtDNA release, called mitochondrial herniation (McArthur et al. Science 2018). Building on these findings and utilising lattice light sheet microscopy as well as cryo-electron microscopy, Tahnee’s research focus is to understand the downstream events following mitochondrial herniation.
Best Oral presentation
Sengers syndrome-associated mitochondrial acylglycerol kinase, is a subunit of the human TIM22 protein import complex
Yilin Kang is a final-year PhD student in the lab of Dr. Diana Stojanovski at the University of Melbourne. Her research focusses on the understanding of human mitochondrial protein import and how perturbation in these pathways leads to human diseases. Yilin’s work on the characterisation of a major protein import machine located at the inner mitochondrial membrane – Translocase of the Inner Membrane 22 (TIM22) complex identified a previously described lipid kinase, acylglycerol kinase (AGK) as a novel subunit of the TIM22 complex. AGK plays a novel and unexpected function in mediating the membrane insertion of carrier protein via TIM22 complex to allow for metabolite exchange. This finding reveals a dual function of AGK protein within mitochondria, in both lipid biogenesis and protein import. Interestingly, mutations in AGK is associated with Sengers syndrome leading to congenital cataracts, cardiomyopathy, skeletal myopathy and lactic acidosis. Comprehensive analyses on Sengers syndrome patient fibroblasts and tissues showed severe defects in TIM22 complex and carrier protein import. Identification of AGK at TIM22 complex proposes that defective TIM22 protein import pathway represents a novel pathomechanism underlying Sengers syndrome.
graduate and Master’s studies at the University of Melbourne in 2014. She then moved to Boston where she worked as a Research Assistant in the laboratory of Assistant Professor Kate Jeffrey at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. In 2018, Tahnee returned to Melbourne to undertake her PhD in the laboratory of Professor Benjamin Kile at the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology Department within the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. Using a wide range of imaging modalities, including live-cell lattice light sheet microscopy, the Kile Lab characterised the first known mechanism of mtDNA release, called mitochondrial herniation (McArthur et al. Science 2018). Building on these findings and utilising lattice light sheet microscopy as well as cryo-electron microscopy, Tahnee’s research focus is to understand the downstream events following mitochondrial herniation.
- Kate McArthur – Best Oral Presentation
- Nadia Cummins – Runner-Up Oral Presentation
- Laura Osellame – Best Poster
- Shannon Chiang – Runner-Up Poster
- Yilin Kang – Young Investigator Award
- Luke Formosa – Young Investigator Award
- Frances Byrne – Best Oral Presentation
- Laura Osellame – Runner-Up Oral Presentation
- Luke Formosa – Best Poster
- Sweta Iyer – Runner-Up Poster
- Dana Westphal – Best Oral Presentation
- Victoria Hewwit – Runner-Up Oral Presentation
- Ben Padman – Best Poster
- Maria Isabel Lopez Sanchez – Runner-Up Poster
- David Stroud and Luke Formosa – Second Runners-Up Poster
- Nora Voegtle – Best Oral Presentation
- Dana Westphal – Best Poster