THE 2020 BOOMERANG AWARD: MATTHEW DOYLE
National Institutes of Health
After completing his BSc (Biotechnology) in 2011 at the University of Adelaide, Dr Matt Doyle was fast-tracked into postgraduate research through the award of a ‘No Honours’ scholarship. Working with Associate Professor Renato Morona at the Research Centre for Infectious Diseases, Matt developed methods to investigate how outer membrane proteins (OMPs) of Gram-negative bacteria are transported to, and/or translocated across, the bacterial cell surface. For this work he used a model OMP called IcsA, which is an essential virulence factor for Shigella species to cause bleeding diarrhoea in humans. He identified motifs within IcsA that drive correct membrane localisation and are conserved in thousands of OMPs across many Gram-negative pathogens. Matt’s PhD studies contributed towards six research articles and attracted multiple awards including the 2014 Adelaide Protein Group Speaker Award and the University Doctoral Research Medal.
After completing his PhD in 2015, Matt was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Visiting Fellowship to conduct postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr Harris Bernstein in the USA. At the NIH, Matt has designed the first experimental system that can controllably trap new OMPs in the final stages of membrane integration and folding in cells. By combining in vivo protein–protein disulphide crosslinking approaches, he mapped the interactions of a new OMP with the folding machinery known as the BAM complex. BAM contains protein subunits conserved in all Gram-negative bacteria as well as organelles such as mitochondria and chloroplasts. This work resulted in a new model for OMP membrane integration and was published in 2019 in Nature Communications. Apart from his research at the NIH, Matt has also been recognised for his mentoring through a 2018 NIH Research Mentor Award, which provided mentoring training as well as salary for a summer intern from a socioeconomically disadvantaged background.
Matt remains captivated by the study of OMP biogenesis and argues that the information is critical for the design of new antibiotics, a better understanding of how bacteria cause disease and the improvement of bioprocessing technologies. He attributes his past successes to a multidisciplinary approach to experiment design (e.g. biochemistry, structural biology, and microbiology). Matt wishes to eventually return to Australia to continue his research and pursue an academic career.
Matt thanks the ASBMB for this amazing opportunity to share new findings at an ASBMB meeting and to visit laboratories in Australian cities including Canberra (Dr Denisse Leyton, Australian National University) and Melbourne (Professor Trevor Lithgow, Monash University).