THE 2018 MERCK RESEARCH MEDAL: MEHDI MOBLI
Centre for Advanced Imaging
University of Queensland
Associate Professor Mehdi Mobli is a Principal Research Fellow at the University of Queensland’s Centre for Advanced Imaging. His research group has a particular interest in understanding the mechanisms of ion channel function in health and disease. Ion channels have proven particularly recalcitrant to traditional drug discovery approaches and his group seeks to address this through improved understanding of the structure and function of these channels. Their approach is to use a range of biochemical and molecular biology approaches to stabilise different functional states of the channels in vitro, and then to assess the structure and function of these engineered channels using a range of advanced biophysical methods. In addition to making significant contributions in this general field, his group is also well known for technical and theoretical contributions to the field of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.
Mehdi graduated as a chemical engineer from Chalmers University in Sweden. He was awarded an industry-sponsored CASE award by GlaxoSmithKline in 2001, to undertake a PhD degree in the highly rated Chemistry Department at the University of Liverpool, UK. His first postdoctoral position was at the University of Connecticut Medical School, where he worked on the then recently introduced reduced dimensionality methods to improve resolution and throughput of protein structure determination by NMR. Following a brief postdoctoral position at the University of Manchester, working on the role of dynamics in the biological function of glycans, he commenced his final postdoctoral position in the group of Professor Glenn King at UQ working on the structure of spider venom peptides.
Mehdi established his research group in 2012 through the award of an ARC Future Fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Imaging. He has published approximately 80 research articles, 13 book chapters and two books. He was awarded the 2013 Sir Paul Callaghan Medal of the ANZMAG Society for his contributions to the field of NMR spectroscopy and, more recently, he received the 2017 Tregear Award by the Australian Peptide Society for his work in the field of peptide research.
His group is currently developing new technologies to stabilise the ligand binding domain of ion channels, so that they can be used as targets for high-throughput drug screening and provide a much-needed new stream of ion channel drug candidates.