Joe Kaczmarski awarded ASBMB Fellowship

Congratulations to Joe Kaczmarksi (Jackson Group) on being awarded a 2019 ASBMB Fellowship.

Up to five ASBMB Fellowships are awarded annually to biochemists or molecular biologists, each of whom is at least in the second year of PhD training and not more than 2 years subsequent to the award of the PhD degree, and normally resident in Australia, in recognition of their outstanding work in the field of biochemistry or molecular biology. Applicants must be members of the Society with at least 1 year of membership immediately prior to the application. The fellowships provide funds to assist each recipient to attend an overseas conference in a field associated with biochemistry or molecular biology or to visit briefly research laboratories in Australia or overseas to learn new research techniques. Each recipient will receive complimentary registration (Collins Bursary) for the annual conference of the Society, thus wherever possible, fellowship recipients shall attend the annual conference of the Society where their fellowship will be awarded. Each recipient shall provide the Editor with a report of the overseas conference attended or the work accomplished, for publication in the Australian Biochemist. Funding for the fellowships is provided by ASBMB.

Joe completed a Bachelor of Philosophy (a research-focussed Science degree) with First Class Honours in Chemistry at the Australian National University. During his undergraduate studies, Joe undertook a number of research projects including studies in the dynamics of voltage-gated sodium channels, interactions of anti-malarial drugs and the Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine-resistance transporter, and the structural basis for the evolution of herbicide-degrading enzymes.

Joe did his Honours project in 2014 under the supervision of Professor Colin Jackson. For this project, Joe and colleagues studied the evolution of cyclohexadienyl dehydratase activity from an ancestral solute-binding protein using ancestral protein reconstruction, enzyme kinetic assays, X-ray crystallography and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Joe was awarded a University Medal in Chemistry for his Honours work.

After a year travelling through South America, Joe returned to the Jackson Group in 2016 to begin his PhD. Joe's PhD has focussed on using a combination of X-ray crystallography, MD simulations, isothermal titration calorimetry and surface plasmon resonance to study the structural basis for molecular recognition events that occur in a number of important biological systems. This has included studying the structural basis for the regulation of bicarbonate transport in cyanobacteria and characterising the polyvalent binding of antibodies to the Plasmodium falciparum circumsprozoite protein.

Joe is currently in the final stages of his PhD. The ASBMB Fellowship will help Joe to travel to Canada to spend time in the laboratory of Nobuhiko Tokuriki at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, where he will work on developing new directed evolution experiments.