THE 2018 BIOPLATFORMS AUSTRALIA AWARD: SIMON COBBOLD
University of Melbourne
Simon Cobbold completed his PhD in the laboratory of Professor Kiaran Kirk and Dr Rowena Martin at the Australian National University. He was initially drawn to infectious diseases and understanding the fundamental processes, which allow the disease-causing pathogens to survive and thrive within the host. His PhD focussed on understanding how the malaria parasite is able to transport amino acids; using classical biochemical techniques and the X. laevis heterologous expression system to characterise putative parasite transporters.
After completing his PhD in 2011, he took up a postdoctoral position at Princeton University with Professor Manuel Llinas and began developing metabolomics techniques and mass spectrometry analyses to investigate parasite biology. Simon developed stable-isotope labelling techniques to monitor metabolic flux in the malaria parasite and exploited these techniques to help resolve some key questions regarding parasite metabolism. While at Princeton University, he also developed a screening approach to elucidate the mode of action of novel antimalarials using mass spectrometry, which was subsequently funded by a Gates Foundation grant.
Upon returning to Australia in 2014, Simon took up a postdoctoral position with Professor Malcolm McConville at the Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne, advancing metabolomics techniques to elucidate novel metabolic pathways in the malaria parasite. Currently, Simon splits his time between the McConville lab and Tilley lab, supervising several students working on a range of projects including ‘metabolic repair as a regulator of metabolic flux’ and ‘quantitating protein turnover as a mediator of artemisinin resistance in the malaria parasite’. In 2017, he was awarded an early-career research fellowship from the University of Melbourne, and has used this support to begin establishing his own independent research program and transition towards greater independence.
The 2018 Bioplatforms Australia Award will be used to perform metabolite profiling and measure stable-isotope incorporation via liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to determine the metabolic architecture of the malaria parasite. In particular, this funding will help elucidate the essentiality of pentose phosphate pathway for parasite survival and proliferation by using the mass spectrometry platforms available via Metabolomics Australia.