Professor Leann Tilley - University of Melbourne

Professor Leann Tilley - University of Melbourne

Davis Auditorium
Start Time: 
Mon, 12/08/2019 - 12:00pm
End Time: 
Mon, 12/08/2019 - 1:00pm

CryoEM-based analysis of the malaria parasite proteasome as an aid to drug development

​Postgraduate lecture series hosted by Dr Anna Coussens

Leann Tilley is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Bio21 Institute. Leann was awarded the Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship from the Australian Research Council, to measure and model malaria parasites. As part of the Laureate program, Leann’s laboratory is developing and implementing a number of new imaging modalities, including Super-Resolution Optical Microscopy, Electron Tomography and Single Particle CryoEM. She is assisted by collaborations with experts from other disciplines, ranging from molecular parasitologists to synthetic organic chemists to biomechanical engineers and optical physicists. Single particle cryo-EM enables the direct imaging of cellular machinery that is too large or too unstable to crystallize, and has the advantage of being compatible with some sample heterogeneity and conformational flexibility. Leann’s lecture will describe the use of cryoEM (by her own lab and that of her collaborators) to solve the structure of the malaria parasite proteasome - a protein machine that functions like a shredder, chewing up proteins that are damaged or no longer needed. A cryoEM structure of the plasmodium proteasome in complex with a specific inhibitor pointed to ways to improve its chemical structure. Leann is working with colleagues from Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Medicines for Malaria Venture to discover  new parasite-specific proteasome inhibitors.

She believes that the development of drugs for diseases that affect patients who can’t afford expensive treatments, such as antimalarial drugs, requires radical new approaches involving Academic/ Private/ Public partnerships. She also believes that answering important questions requires teams of passionate gender and culturally diverse people who provide different ideas, perspectives and backgrounds - building a collective intelligence.