2007 ASBMB Award: Erinna Lee
Walter and Eliza Hall Medical Research Institute
Whilst undertaking a BSc at the University of Melbourne in 2001, Erinna Lee got her first taste of biomedical research as a summer student with Professor Ray Norton in the Structural Biology division at WEHI learning NMR. During this time, she solved the structure of a conotoxin that led to a publication in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. As a participant in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program in 2002, she continued with Professor Norton, together with Dr Douglas Fairlie in the Cancer and Haematology division at WEHI, on a different project aimed at developing cytokine superantagonists. This work allowed her to extend her practical skills and led to another JBC publication. In 2003, Erinna attained her Honours degree with Professor Norton, this time solving the structures of peptides that bind important malarial proteins. This work, undertaken in collaboration with Dr Mick Foley (La Trobe University), was published in Infection and Immunity. In 2004, with the support of the Cancer Council Victoria, Erinna commenced her PhD studies under Professor Peter Colman and Dr Douglas Fairlie in the Structural Biology division at WEHI. Her work involves the development of peptide ligands that target specific proteins involved in regulating apoptosis that can be used as tools to better understand the molecular basis of this important biological process. Her project incorporates a combination of biochemistry, cell biology and X-ray crystallography. Results generated from this work have been included in publications in Science, Molecular Cell, PNAS and Cell Death and Differentiation. Erinna will use her ASBMB Fellowship to attend the Cell Death meeting at Cold Spring Harbor, USA, later this year, allowing her to present her work to an international audience.