The 2005 Roche Medal: Jenny Martin

Jenny MartinJenny Martin is an Associate Professor at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland. She has a long-standing interest in protein structure and drug design that began during her training as a pharmacist and flourished as a Masters student working with Peter Andrews at the Victorian College of Pharmacy. The success of her Masters research on computational chemistry applied to opioid analgesics led to the award of five scholarships for PhD postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford, where Jenny worked under the guidance of Peter Goodford (author of GRID) and the eminent protein crystallographer, Louise Johnson. At Oxford, Jenny designed inhibitors of glycogen phosphorylase as potential anti-diabetic compounds and used protein crystallography to validate the design process.

After completing her DPhil in Oxford, Jenny returned to Australia for what turned out to be just a few short months at Bond University. Despite the unexpected closure of the School of Science and Technology, Jenny was fortunate to be offered a postdoctoral position at Rockefeller University in New York, working with the renowned structural biologist John Kuriyan. There, she worked on the family of Escherichia coli Dsb proteins that includes four soluble and two membrane protein members. The Dsb system represents an important model for eukaryotic in vivo protein folding. Furthermore, the Dsb proteins are essential for virulence factor and toxin formation in bacteria and represent attractive targets for the development of antivirulence agents. As a postdoctoral researcher, and subsequently as an independent researcher, Jenny made significant contributions to the field having solved the structures of several Dsb family members and identified features that contribute to their unique activities.

Jenny has also made significant contributions in the field of protein:ligand interactions; she and her group have determined the structures of ligand complexes of several medically significant proteins including the human adrenaline-synthesising enzyme PNMT, mammalian purple acid phosphatase and a human sulfotransferase implicated in cancer. Over the past few years, she has been active in establishing high throughput approaches to macrophage protein crystallography in collaboration with Bostjan Kobe and David Hume. She now plans to apply high throughput techniques to drug discovery and membrane protein structural biology.

Jenny has been the recipient of Queen Elizabeth II and ARC Senior Research Fellowships. She was the Queensland State Representative for ASBMB 2001-2003 and President of the Society of Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand 2003-2005. She is currently a council member of Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre in Canberra, and represents the protein crystallography community on the national scientific advisory committee and beamline advisory panel of the Australian Synchrotron.