Media Releases
22/08/2014

World-renowned biophysicist UOW's fourth Laureate Fellow

Professor Antoine van Oijen will join UOW to unravel the molecular mechanisms of DNA replication.

Professor Antoine van Oijen

Professor Antoine van Oijen (left) will join UOW as an Australian Laureate Fellow where he will work with Professor Nick Dixon to strengthen biophysical and biochemical research efforts.

Professor Antoine van Oijen, a leading expert from the Netherlands in the field of single-molecule biophysics, has been named as an Australian Research Council (ARC) Australian Laureate Fellow in a national program to attract and retain world-class researchers.

He is one of 16 Laureate Fellows announced today by the Minister for Education, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, at a ceremony in Adelaide.

His Fellowship entitled: “Under the hood: single-molecule studies of multi-protein machines”, will bring $2.9 million of ARC funding to the University of Wollongong  (UOW) for the next five years to strengthen Australia’s biophysical and biochemical research and place Australia in the forefront of this important research field.

A pioneer and leader in his field of research, Professor van Oijen, from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, has developed biophysical tools to study, at the level of individual molecules, important molecular processes such as DNA replication, viral fusion and membrane transport.

Bringing together the areas of physics and biology, he has successfully built an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers.  He has been a research collaborator with the UOW's Professor Nick Dixon for the past 11 years focussing on developing methods to visualise the copying of individual DNA molecules in real time using the assembled components of the DNA copying machine from bacteria.

“By making real-time single-molecule movies of the replication process we will be able to unravel the molecular mechanisms of DNA replication, and provide the fundamental knowledge required to understand diseases mechanisms and antibiotic resistance. This will also lead to improved drug development,” Professor van Oijen said, who will move to the UOW to take up his Fellowship in January 2015 on a full-time basis.

The five-year Laureate Fellowship will allow Professor van Oijen to develop Australian biophysical research at UOW’s Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) and build on his existing collaboration with Professor Dixon in the Centre for Medical and Molecular Bioscience.

He joins Distinguished Professors Lesley Head, Gordon Wallace and Richard (Bert) Roberts, as the fourth researcher at UOW to be awarded this prestigious Fellowship.

Professor van Oijen graduated with a PhD in Physics from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard to develop his knowledge in biological applications of single-molecule techniques. He was the first in his field to establish a biomedical research group at Harvard Medical School with a single-molecule biology laboratory. Moving to the University of Groningen, he developed a single-molecule microscope facility now used by more than 10 research groups.

The Laureate Fellowship will allow Professor van Oijen to develop a team of emerging researchers at the UOW to take single-molecule biophysical research to the next level. He will continue to forge new collaborations by hosting workshops for PhD students and postdoctoral researchers to train the next generation of researchers in this fast-developing field of research.

Media contact: Grant Reynolds, UOW Media & PR Officer, on +61 417 010 350 or grantr@uow.edu.au.

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