THE 2019 EPPENDORF EDMAN AWARD: TATIANA SOARES DA COSTA
Department of Biochemistry and Genetics
La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science
La Trobe University
Dr Tatiana Soares da Costa completed a BSc in Biochemistry and Chemistry at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, where she discovered her passion for protein biochemistry. Following her passion, she undertook a Masters project in Professor Juliet Gerrard’s laboratory investigating the structure and function of a key enzyme in lysine biosynthesis, resulting in two publications in Biochimie.
Further pursuing her developed interest in drug discovery, Tatiana moved to Australia and completed a PhD under the supervision of Professor Grant Booker at the University of Adelaide. During this project, she established an in situ click chemistry protocol to identify the most potent inhibitors of the enzyme biotin protein ligase, with antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus. Tatiana’s PhD work resulted in eight publications, including first author papers in Chemical Science, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular Microbiology and ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, and co-authorship on a patent.
In 2015, Tatiana was awarded an NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellowship and relocated to La Trobe University. Under the mentorship of Associate Professor Matthew Perugini, she continued her drug discovery research by focusing on a novel antibiotic target, which led to the development of small molecule inhibitors with antibacterial activity against multi-drug resistant Gram-negative pathogens. She also expanded her studies to the plant biology field aimed at characterising novel herbicide targets. During this fellowship, Tatiana published papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Nature Communications, Science Immunology, Structure and Planta and was a named co-inventor on six patents.
Tatiana established her independent research group in the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science with the award of a Hoogenraad Fellowship in 2018. She has also recently been awarded an ARC DECRA Fellowship to examine new strategies for effective weed management. Her group focuses on defining the structure, function and regulation of essential proteins in bacteria and plants to guide the development of novel classes of antibiotics and herbicides. Therefore, research in her group spans the fields of biochemistry, biophysics, inhibitor discovery, plant biology and microbiology.
Tatiana has continuously been involved in teaching, supervising and mentoring students, as well as promoting science to the media and community. She has been invited to disseminate her research in over 35 national/international conferences and has been recognised with more than 30 awards for research excellence.