SPG - Recent Events

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24.11.2022 Thompson Prize, Travel Awards and New SPG Committees 
On 24th November the Sydney Protein Group had the opportunity to welcome back members of the Sydney Protein Group in-person for the annual Thompson Prize Talks at the University of Western Sydney Parramatta Campus. 35 members attended to listen to 5 excellent speakers (Hudson Coates, Jason Johansen-Leete, Serene El-Kamand, Julian van Gerwen and Kelsey Whinn). Congratulations to Hudson Coates from University of New South Wales for taking home the grand prize. We equally thank all finalists for their efforts in delivering interesting and high-quality talks. Thank you also to Liza Cubeddu and Roland Gamsjaeger for hosting the event and to our long-time sponsor Bio-strategy for their support.  

Comment from the Judges: “We (Chris Jones, Emily Furlong and Ann Kwan) want to thank the five Thompson Prize finalists: Hudson Coates (UNSW), Jason Johansen-Leete (USyd), Serene El-Kamand (WSU), Julian van Gerwen (USyd) and Kelsey Whinn (UoW) for their excellent presentations. All speakers presented interesting work and good science, used slides effectively, had a logical flow and answered questions from the audience very well. We wish we could pick more than one winner. After much deliberation, the three of us decided for the 2022 Thompson Prize to be awarded to Hudson as each of us had picked his talk as one of our top two. We were particularly impressed by how Hudson built the story of a truncated form of squalene monooxygenase and its role in cholesterol synthesis in a step-wise manner with a series of suspense, motivation and explanation of the methods followed by data/answers that made his findings very easy to follow and the overall significance obvious. Special mention to Julian who is only an Honours student but has already made impressive progress on deciphering the cross talk between genetics and environment factors and insulin resistance using phosphoproteomics. Many congratulations to Hudson and well done to all speakers!” 

Greg Ralston and Lorne Travel Awards 
Congratulations also to Mohammad Pourhassan-Moghaddam and Gayathri Mani who won Lorne Travel Awards and Madeline McRae who won the Greg Ralston Award. 

After the Thompson Prize was the SPG AGM. This year we had 3 of the executive retiring – Jason Low as Secretary, Ben Crossett as Treasurer, and Alistair Stewart as Webmaster. We thank them for their service. Three new committee members were elected to continue making Sydney Protein Group a great place to learn, share and experience science. Derrick Lau was voted in as Secretary, Mark Larance as Treasurer and Taylor Szyszk as Communications Officer! Welcome to the new team!!! Funding was discussed and the executive position of webmaster was voted to be changed to Communications Officer (reflecting social media usage etc) in the SPG constitution. For more details, please click here for the meeting minutes. 


26.11.21 Thompson Prize and new SPG Chair
The 30th Thompson Prize Talks was successfully held online. Thank you to everyone who attended. We had a whopping 71 attendees at one point! We hope you enjoyed the talks, which, as expected, were excellent and stimulated lots of questions and discussions. As evidenced by the request for extra time to deliberate, the judges had a tough time picking a winner. Ultimately, it was Aster Pijning (Centenary Institute) who brought home the bacon for her excellent talk on platelet integrins. Congratulations Aster!  We would like to thank our judges Iain Grainge (UoN), Amandeep Kaur (USyd) and Lawrence Lee (UNSW) for taking precious time out of their schedules for this event. 

In addition, we also handed out our Lorne Travel Awards: Maria Katarina Lambourne (UoW) won the Greg Ralston prize. Karishma Patel (USyd) won the ATA Scientific Lorne Travel Award, while Yi Zeng (VCCRI) and Dylan Harney (USyd) won our SPG Lorne Travel Awards. Congratulations to all!  We would like to thank ATA Scientific for being a long-standing sponsor for one of the travel awards.

We would like to thank our host Lisanne Spenkelink (UoW) for leading a great event!

Separately, the SPG General Meeting was held immediately after the Thompson Prize. The main issue on the agenda was to vote for our next SPG Chairperson (formerly known as the President). We had 30 SPG members in attendance. Following questions to the nominees, a vote was held. Ultimately, Kate Michie (UNSW) was voted as our next SPG Chairperson. Congratulations Kate! We look forward to working with you.  Lastly, we would like to thank our outgoing SPG Chairperson, Tara Christie. Thank you for leading the SPG the last two years. Despite the difficulties associated with COVID19, you continued to steer the SPG to engage the protein science community as much as possible.

30.09.21 Postdoc Webinar
Our postdoc webinar last Thursday was a success with a good turnout of ~40 attendees – thank you all for attending and supporting our speakers. Also, thank you once again to Emily Furlong for hosting the event. If you missed it, here is a quick recap: After some introductions, Yan Liao (UTS) kicked off the event with her talk on how the archaeon Haloferax volcaniiuses two FtsZ proteins for cell division – a feature that isn’t commonly found. The next cab off the rank, Joshua Hamey (UNSW) spoke about how he utilised SILAC-based quantitative mass spectrometry to investigate crosstalk between the arginine and phosphorylation post-translational modifications on proteins involved in translation. He found that such crosstalk between the two modifications did exist. Up next was Jason Low (USyd) whose quest to find the consensus binding motif for bromodomains using mRNA display took an unexpected twist (literally). While tight binders were identified, the peptide sequences were not found in Nature. Finally, bringing up the rear was Lisanne Spenkelink (UoW) who did a great job at convincing the audience that the long-held paradigm that ATP is needed for E. coli DNA replication might need a re-visit. After the conclusion of the talks, a people’s choice vote was held and the two SPG awards for free registration to ECPM2022 were given to Lisanne and Jason.

20.05.21 Autumn Symposium
The SPG protein-nucleic acids symposium was a great success, with the sold out event bringing together members of the protein community across the state for our first in person meeting in over a year. Thanks so much to Qiagen for sponsoring the event which was followed by drinks and cheese. And a big thank you to our speakers Merlin Crossley, Tracy Bryann, Peter Lewis, Fatima Valdes Mora and Roland Gamsjaeger.

See below for a few photos of the speakers


26.11.20 Thompson Prize Night
The 29th Annual Thompson Prize was held on the 26th of November hosted virtually at Macquarie University.

We would like to thank everyone who attended our Thompson Prize Talks. With your support, we had an amazing turnout of ~65 people at its peak! This, of course, was only possible due to the hard work put in by the organising host, Dr. Bhumika Shah, and our Thompson Prize applicants and finalists. 

To recap, our finalists were: Ichia Chen (USyd, School of Medical Sciences), Derrick Lau (UNSW, Single Molecule Science EMBL Australia Node), Charlotte Franck (USyd, School of Chemistry), Richard Spinks (UoW, Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute) and Sarah Ball (USyd, Discipline of Pharmacology). Ultimately, it was Sarah Ball, who presented her work on amyloid-βpeptide, that took home the Thompson Prize. 

Finally, Ryan Separovich (UNSW) and Tara Bartolec (UNSW) won the Lorne Travel Awards. 

Congratulations and well done to all!


22.11.19 Thompson Prize Night
The 28th Annual Thompson Prize Talks and half-day symposium was held on the 22nd of November at the University of Sydney.

Harry Rathbone (UNSW) described his work on phycobiliproteins and how the cryptophyte Hemiselmis andersenii have ‘modified’ these proteins to maximise and capture various wavelengths of light. His work also implied that these various light-harvesting proteins are specifically organised in an ordered manner to maximise efficiency during light harvesting; something that has not been previously shown. Next, Sayantani Chatterjee (Macquarie Uni) spoke about her work on the discovery of the pre-dominance of paucimannosylation in human cancers, and its potential to be a cancer biomarker. Her work involved a massive collaboration across multiple international institutions and represent a significant technical advance in the field of glycoproteomics. After afternoon tea, Yichen Zhong (USyd) who used single molecule techniques to probe, with exquisite detail, how the nucleosome remodeller CHD4 ‘slide’ nucleosomes mechanistically. Her work showed that DNA translocation at the entry and exit sites of the nucleosome are decoupled; DNA tranlocates smoothly at the entry site, while at the exit site, this appears to be an abrupt process. Our penultimate speaker, Yi Zeng (VCCRI), showcased his work on archeal TF55 chaperonin protein from Sulfolobus solfataricus. He serendipitously found that TF55 might be forming reversable protein filaments as a method for regulating its activity, and show using cryoEM that the apical regions are facilitating these filamentous formations. Finally, Ngee Kiat Jake Chua (UNSW) describe his PhD project on the regulation of squalene monooxygenase – an important player of cholesterol homeostasis. He describes his tumultuous pursuit through the use of many(!) alanine mutants, how he finally identified a key 12aa regulatory region, and how this protein was ultimately regulated by the use of non-canonical serine ubiquitinylation to trigger protein degradation.

We think all our speakers deserve a prize. However, only one was ultimately crowned the Thompson Prize winner for 2019. Our symposium guest speakers (Ad Bax, Rasmus Linser and Kevin Gardner) doubled up as judges for the event and decided, after careful deliberation, that it was Yichen who deserved the title – Congratulations! As for Travel Awards, Charlotte Franck (USyd) and Serene El-Kamand (WSU) won the ATA Scientific and ANSTO Travel Awards, respectively. Teegan Lawson (WSU) was also awarded the Greg Ralston Memorial Prize.

We would like to thank everyone who attended – we hope you enjoyed it. We would also like to thank our event sponsors: ATA Scientific, ANSTO, Thermofisher Scientific and ASBMB, for generously providing funds to make the event possible.


23.11.18 Thompson Prize Night
The Thompson Prize Event took place on Friday, the 23rd Nov from 3-6pm in the CPC (University of Sydney), Level 6, Seminar room, with food/drinks in the Level 6 lounge afterwards (hosted by Dr Mark Larance).

Sept-Oct.18 Special Seminar sponsored by the SPG in September/October
Professor Nigel Unwin (MRC laboratory of Molecular Biology) talked about ‘Experiments in electron microscopy: from metals to nerves’ on Thursday, 20th September 2018 at The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute (Level 4 Seminar Room) from 2 – 3pm. Professor Bostjan Kobe (School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland) talked about ‘Signalling by cooperative assembly formation (SCAF) by TIR domains in innate immunity and cell death pathways’ on Tuesday, 2nd October 2018 at Macquarie University (4WW (F7B) 322 seminar room, 1-2 pm) and on Wednesday, 3rd Oct 2018 at Western Sydney University (Parramatta Campus, Building EHa, 12.30-1.30pm).


9.2.17 Special Seminar sponsered by the SPG
The SPG has sponsored a special seminar given by Dr Tanja Mittag from the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the US on Friday, the 9th of February, 2018 at 10.45 at the University of Sydney (Buidling G08). She talked about intrinsically disordered proteins (title: ‘sequence-conformation-function relationships of intrinsically disordered protein regions that undergo liquid-liquid phase separation or multisite phosphorylation’) and this event was hosted by Prof. Joel Mackay (University of Sydney).

24.11.17 Thompson Prize Night
The Thompson Prize evening took place at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on the 24th of November, 2017 at 3 pm (hosted by A/Prof Iain Duggin).

14-16.7.17 East Coast Protein Meeting (ECPM) 2017
The East Coast Protein Meeting was held from Friday, 14th of July to Sunday, 16th of July, 2017. The meeting was a joint initiative by the Sydney Protein Group and the Queensland Protein Group. This three-day conference was an excellent arena for established and young protein scientists to mix on an equal footing in a relaxed atmosphere. One of the primary goals of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for younger protein scientists to present their work.


22.11.16 Thompson Prize Night
The event was held on Tuesday, the 22nd of November at the University of Wollongong, hosted by Justin Yerbury and Heath Ecroyd. We had some great student talks, a good lunch and fun!

8.2.16 Proteomics Seminar
The SPG together with the University of Sydney has hosted a special seminar by the ‘Godfather’ of proteomics, Prof Matthias Mann (Max-Planck Institute for Biochemistry). This seminar took place on Monday, 8th of February, 2016 at 4 pm at the Charles Perkins Centre Auditorium (with refreshments from 5 pm onwards).

12.2.16 SPG/UTS Gene Regulation Meeting
SPG in collaboration with UTS has been organising a special Gene Regulation Meeting on Friday, 12th of February, 2016 at the new UTS Science building (a short walk from Central Station). The meeting started with a lecture on structure-function analyses of eukaryotic transcription complexes and cutting edge electron cryo-microscopy, from Lori Passmore (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK), who was in Australia as an invited speaker at the Lorne Protein Structure and Function conference. This was followed by 3 talks by local scientists (Dr Sandro Ataide, Prof Jacqui Matthews and Prof Peter Lewis), and then an optional tour of the UTS superresolution imaging facility, which is available to external users.


26.11.15 Thompson Prize Night 2015
Some of the SPG’s best work was again showcased at the annual Thompson Prize Night! This year’s event was held at the Garvan on Thursday the 26th of November, kindly hosted by Mary Christie. In addition to the Thompson Prize, we have also awarded the Lorne Travel Awards, which help students to attend the Lorne Protein or Proteomics conference.

24.07.-26.07.15 ECPM15 Meeting
The East Coast Protein Meeting (organized by the Queensland Protein Group and the SPG) has been taken place in Coffs Harbour from Friday 24th July to Sunday 26st July, 2015.


3.10.14 Thompson Prize Night 2014

The annual Thompson Prize Night was held at UNSW on Thursday the 27th of November, kindly hosted by Dr Till Boecking. The best candidates were selected to present their work at the Thompson Prize Night and the best presenter was awarded the prize and a cheque for $600. We have also awarded 3 Travelling Scholarships to Lorne worth $600 each.

3.10.14 SPG Spring Symposium
The SPG has organized this half-day meeting on Friday, 3rd of October, 2014, hosting international speaker Prof Steve McKnight (ComBio Plenary Speaker). Steve is an exceptional scientist who has made a number of seminal findings in the field of gene regulation, including the discovery of the leucine zipper motif that allows transcription factors to dimerise. More recently, his laboratory has taken to unravelling the complexities of metabolism, neurogenesis and the circadian rhythm. In addition, we have also hosted an excellent collection of local speakers: Iain Duggan (University of Technology Sydney), Renae Ryan (University of Sydney), Justin Yerbury (University of Wollongong), Melanie White (University of Sydney) and Morten Thaysen-Anderson (Macquarie University). The meeting was held at the new Charles Perkins Centre at Sydney University and Ben Crossett was conducting tours of the brand new mass spectrometry facilities on site. We thank everyone who was able to join us for what was a great day of local and international protein-centric research!

14.2.14 SPG Lorne Proteins Satellite Talks at UTS
This was the first SPG event to be held at UTS University of Technology Sydney in recent years and was hosted by Dr Iain Duggin. Many thanks to Iain for hosting 2 excellent speakers: Prof Jakob Moller-Jensen from the University of Southern Denmark (title: “Uncovering protein glycosylation in bacteria”) and Prof Jan Lowe from the MRC in Cambridge (title: “Filaments of the bacterial cytoskeleton”). Iain has also organised a tour of the UTS microscope facility and the 3D-SIM super-resolution microscope following afternoon tea.

For information about earlier events please contact the SPG or see the pdf file located here.

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