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Staff news

Associate Professor Pritinder Kaur

The school recently welcomed Associate Professor Pritinder Kaur. Associate Professor Kaur received her Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Cell Biology from the University of London, UK, and her PhD from the University of Manchester, UK. Her PhD studies with Professor Christopher Potten, on epithelial tissue renewal in the small intestine, provided a long-lasting interest in epithelial stem cell biology that forms the basis for her lab’s research program.

Postdoctoral training was undertaken at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, Seattle, USA in the field of viral carcinogenesis and epithelial cell adhesion. Associate Professor Kaur moved to the Hanson Centre for Cancer Research, Adelaide in 1990 after being awarded a Florey Fellowship to work on angiogenesis, and by 1995 had established an independent skin biology laboratory as a Senior Research Fellow/Associate Member. In 1999, Associate Professor Kaur was recruited to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, as Group Leader where she was Head of the Epithelial Stem Cell Biology Laboratory until July 2015. Associate Professor Kaur relocated her lab briefly to the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Monash Medical Centre, also in Melbourne, until March 2016 and is adjunct Associate Professor with Monash University, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and the University of Melbourne in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience.

Associate Professor Kaur.
Associate Professor Kaur.

Associate Professor Kaur’s research interests focus on investigating human epithelial tissue regeneration, using human skin as a model epithelium but including other epithelial tissues such as ovary and oesophagus. Specifically, her lab aims to understand the mini interactions between epithelial stem cells and their mesenchymal microenvironment (fibroblasts and MSC-like pericytes) that drive stem cell self-renewal and tissue renewal during homeostasis; wound healing and tissue regeneration; cancer progression to malignancy in ovarian and skin cancer; and functional changes in epithelial and mesenchymal stem cells with ageing. More recently, Associate Professor Kaur’s laboratory has discovered a novel function for pericytes – MSC-like cells known to regulate angiogenesis – in promoting both skin reconstitution and in promoting epithelial cancers, for example ovarian cancer growth, and metastatic spread independently of angiogenesis.

Since moving to Curtin University in March 2016, Associate Professor Kaur has established collaborations with Professor Deirdre Coombe and Professor Marco Falasca. Active discussions to drive future collaborative work are ongoing with investigators at other Perth Institutes, including Rod Dilley, Ruth Ganss and Fiona Wood.

Associate Professor Kaur serves as an Editorial Board Member for Stem Cells, The International Journal of Cell Differentiation and Proliferation (2004-present); for Stem Cell Reviews (2008-present); and Experimental Dermatology (2012-present). She is also Associate Editor for Australia, Current Stem Cell Research and Therapy (2013-present).

Dr Evelyne Deplazes

The school has also recently welcomed Dr Evelyne Deplazes, who has taken up her position as a Research Fellow at the School of Biomedical Sciences. Dr Deplazes completed a double degree in Computer Science and Chemistry including Honours in Computational Chemistry at Curtin University (2003-2008).

In 2012, she was awarded her PhD in Computational Biophysics from the University of Western Australia for her work on the structure and aggregation behavior of mechanosensitive ion channels in model membranes. After her PhD she moved to the University of Queensland to work as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow under the mentorship of Professor Alan Mark, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, and Professor Glenn King, Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Dr Evelyne Deplazes.
Dr Evelyne Deplazes.

In 2014, she was awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early-Career Fellowship to continue her research on the use of computational methods to study the interactions between venom peptides and ion channel proteins, as well as their membrane binding activities. Her research has also been supported by the Ian Potter Foundation and the Medical Advances without Animal Trust.

Having returned to Curtin, Dr Deplazes’ research will focus on combining computational approaches with fluorescence and spectroscopy techniques to study the membrane-binding properties of peptides. In addition to her research, Dr. Deplazes is actively involved in promoting career development of early-career researchers, and gender equity in science.

Dr Vinicius Fernandes Cruzat

Biomedical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Vinicius Cruzat, will take up a research position in August 2016 in a leading diabetes research laboratory in Brussels, Belgium

Dr Cruzat obtained his undergraduate degree, a Bachelor in Sport Science and Nutrition, in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Dr Cruzat moved to São Paulo in 2003, a city with around 22 million people, to undertake Masters and PhD studies at the University of São Paulo (USP). During his studies, Dr Cruzat had the opportunity to collaborate with different research groups, learning and teaching innovative laboratory techniques, publishing both national and international scientific articles. As a result, Dr. Cruzat successfully obtained several important research grants and scholarships, for himself and several new students, studying in the lab of Nutritional Biochemistry under the supervision of Professor Julio Tirapegui (USP) and also the lab of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, supervised by Professor Paulo Ivo Homem de Bittencourt Jr. (UFRGS).

 

Dr. Vinicius Cruzat.
Dr. Vinicius Cruzat.

On one significant occasion, Dr. Cruzat was introduced to Professor Philip Newsholme in Brazil. The Newsholme surname was familiar, since Dr. Cruzat studied amino acid metabolism, an area dominated by Eric Newsholme’s lab in Oxford in the 1980s and 1990s. At the end of 2012, as part of an existing international collaboration, Dr. Cruzat was awarded with a CNPq postdoctoral fellowship, and in 2013 he moved to the new CHIRI Bioscience Research Precinct, in the lab of Professor Philip Newsholme at Curtin University. Dr. Cruzat, together with Dr. Kevin Noel Keane, established the lab of Diabetes and Metabolism under the supervision of Professor Newsholme, and since then more than 5 papers per year have been published by this partnership, more than 12 papers in total, in international high quality journals, which significantly contributed to the growth of the lab, Biomedical Sciences and CHIRI.

In 2015, Dr Cruzat returned to Brazil to take up a fellowship in the labs of Professors Angelo Carpinelli and Rui Curi, Dept of Physiology and Biophysics, USP. Dr Cruzat was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the São Paulo Foundation for Research (FAPESP), which is internationally recognized for the quality of scientific research it supports. Dr Cruzat was recently successful with an application to work in the Centre for Diabetes Research in the Free University of Brussels (ULB), in the lab of Professor Décio Eizirik. Professor Eizirk is the director of the ULB Diabetes Centre, and published over 300 papers, including Nature, Diabetes, Diabetologia and in PNAS journals, and is one of the top researchers in the field of diabetes in the world.

This new stage of Dr Cruzat’s professional life will be crucial for his career, in order to achieve publication in high impact journals resulting from work in an emerging area, involving alternative splicing and molecular mechanisms of beta cell regulation and survival, as well as discovery of new biomarkers and strategies to manage diabetes in human studies. Dr Cruzat is an adjunct research fellow in the School of Biomedical Sciences, and collaborates with Professor Newsholme, co-authoring high impact research papers, and selecting high quality students to apply for scholarships to enable them to study in the field of Diabetes and Biomedical Sciences at Curtin University.

Appointments

Congratulations to Randy Strack, who was successful in his application to be appointed Technical Manager until the end of 2016. Randy has many years’ experience at Curtin and the School of Biomedical Sciences, and successfully acted in the position of Technical Manager for a few months in 2015. Randy will undertake the role of technical manager in addition to his current position.

Congratulations to Professor Philip Newsholme, who will continue in his role as Head of School until December 2018.

Congratulations to Associate Professor Cyril Mamotte, who will continue in his role as Deputy Head of School until August 2017.

Promotion

Two academic staff members received promotions in early 2016:

Dr Connie Jackaman was promoted from ALA in her Research Fellow role to ALB (lecturer).

Associate Professor Cyril Mamotte was promoted to ALD (T&R).

Welcome back

Welcome back Student Support Officer, Sophie Stanier, and Dr Hannah Crabb, both of whom have returned to the school after a period of parental leave.