THE 2018 ASBMB FRED COLLINS AWARD: LOUISE STERNICKI
School of Biological Sciences
University of Adelaide
Louise Sternicki completed a Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science) at the University of Adelaide majoring in Biochemistry, and Microbiology and Immunology. Here, she received both the RK Morton Scholarship and the School of Molecular and Biomedical Science Prize for her academic achievements. In 2014, Louise then carried out her BSc Honours year in Biochemistry, also at the University of Adelaide, under the supervision of Professor Grant Booker, for which she was awarded the John L Young Scholarship for Research. During this time, Louise developed her interest in combined approaches to structure determination, and their application to small molecule drug discovery, concentrating on the biotin protein ligase enzyme from Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Louise was granted an Australian Postgraduate Award to pursue a PhD with Professor Booker and continue her research on biotin protein ligases, the essential enzyme required for the utilisation of the vitamin biotin. Specifically, she is investigating the structure of eukaryotic biotin protein ligases, and their potential as anti-fungal targets. Multiple techniques have been utilised to provide structural insights into these enzymes, including X-ray crystallography, NMR, SAXS and native mass spectrometry. Louise has also made contributions to other projects studying the structure and DNA binding mechanisms of bacterial biotin protein ligases. Her first publication, a literature review, was published in Trends in Biochemical Science in 2017.
To complete her PhD, Louise is using her Fellowship to travel to the United Kingdom to gain experience in additional mass spectrometry techniques, including hydrogen-deuterium exchange and crosslinking MS. These techniques will enable new insights into the structure and function of the eukaryotic biotin protein ligases.