The 2005 GE Healthcare Bio-Sciences Award: David Jans

David JansDavid Andrew Jans is a Senior Principal Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council. He holds a personal chair within the Deptartment of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Monash University, where he is head of the Nuclear Signalling Laboratory. After graduating (BSc Honours) from the University of Melbourne Microbiology Department in 1980, he joined the Deptartment of Biochemistry at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR) to carry out his PhD studies with Graeme Cox and Frank Gibson on bacterial ATPase (completed 1984).

He then took up a research scientist position at the Friedrich Miescher Institut in Basel (Switzerland), followed by a visiting fellowship at the Max Planck Institut für Biophysik in Frankfurt am Main (Germany), working in the area of phosphorylation and signal transduction in mammalian cells. In 1990, he became a Senior Scientist at the Institut für Medizinische Physik und Biophysik, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster (Germany), turning his interest to the use of confocal microscopic techniques such as fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) to investigate transport processes.

He returned in 1993 to the JCSMR (Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) to establish the Nuclear Signalling Laboratory, with a strong focus on the processes of protein transport into the eukaryotic cell nucleus, becoming a Full Professor in 2000, before his move to his present position at Monash University in 2001. He has also held a conjoint appointment at the James Cook University of North Queensland (Townsville) since 1998. He has received a number of awards, including the IRPC (International Research Progress Council) Eminent Scientist of the Year Award for Molecular Biology in 1999, and is coauthor of a patent ('A Composition to Effect Photodynamic Damage of Target Cells and a Method to Effect Photodynamic Damage of Target Cells' which won a Medaille d'Or avec Mention at the 45th World Salon of Inventions - 'Brussels Eureka 96').

His research over 20 years has spanned many aspects of signal transduction / phosphorylation, with an emphasis on quantitative approaches, particularly in the application of confocal microscopy. His current work is focused on the transport of molecules into the nucleus in normal and disease (eg viral infection) states, the regulation thereof, and how this may be applied to nuclear drug delivery / gene therapy. Recent work has included the application of FRAP to examine nucleocytoplasmic flux in single living cells, the role therein of the cytoskeleton, and the demonstration of the central role of the regulation of nuclear transport in development. With respect to the latter, his recent research has defined the nuclear import pathway of the sex- determining factor SRY, and documented the first cases of impaired development (XY sex reversal) in humans being explained by a failure of nucleocytoplasmic trafficking.

His continuing research interests are aimed at seeking to understand how the regulation of nuclear transport impacts on viral disease and development, together with the application of this knowledge in non-viral gene delivery.