Wael Awad

THE 2022 EPPENDORF EDMAN ECR AWARD: WAEL AWAD

Monash Biomedical Discovery Institute

Monash University

Dr Wael Awad completed BSc and MSc studies at Cairo University, Egypt, resulting in two publications in the fields of molecular biophysics. With the support of an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship, Wael then moved to Sweden and completed a PhD under the supervision of Professor Derek Logan at Lund University. Wael’s PhD research was focused on the structural and functional characterisation of glycoproteins integral to cellular communication and signalling. His outstanding PhD dissertation led to five publications (four as first author and one review) and received the Best PhD Thesis Award from the MAX-IV Synchrotron (2015, Sweden). Wael then pursued his scientific career as a Research Fellow at Monash University (November 2015), under the mentorship of Professor Jamie Rossjohn. At Monash, he has brought a wealth of technical expertise in biochemistry and protein crystallography to markedly advance our understanding of the molecular correlates of metabolite-mediated T cell immunity.

Wael has demonstrated an ability to drive high-calibre research, and establish strong and fruitful collaborations as evidenced by his authorship of 19 original publications (nine as the first author and three reviews) in top-tier journals including Science, Nature Immunology, Science Immunology and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. Of note, his seminal research on the molecular basis underpinning T cell recognition of microbial-derivatives was showcased on the cover of the April 2020 issue of Nature Immunology. This research paves the way for the development of innovative therapeutics based on selective modulation of T cell immunity. In addition, he has determined 28 protein crystal structures, the data for which have been deposited into the Protein Data Bank open access repository.

Wael has now established an international profile in the field of structural immunology as evidenced by his high impact publications and his selection to present at more than 30 national and international conferences. He has been recognised with more than 16 awards for research excellence including the prestigious International Union of Crystallography Young Scientist Award (New Zealand, 2018), the Robert Porter ECR Publication Prize 2021 for Laboratory-based Sciences (Monash University) and the Robin Anders Young Investigator Award 2021 (Lorne Proteins). He has recently been awarded an Australian ARC DECRA Fellowship (2022–2024) to support the development of his research program in the field of metabolite-mediated T cell immunity.