A/PROF ANWAR SUNNA

Anwar obtained a PhD in Technical Microbiology from the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Germany. His early training was in technical microbiology and enzymology. His previous work focused on modular thermophilic enzymes and the specificity and significance of their accompanying non-catalytic modules. He was one of the first people to use a combination of degenerate oligonucleotide PCR and genomic walking PCR to isolate genes directly from environmental DNA samples. This new approach avoided the problem arising from the need to grow microorganisms, which may or may not be readily culturable.
In the last years his research has been motivated by the desire to advance the understanding of the interaction between biomolecules and inorganic compounds. In particular in the area of biomolecule immobilisation and bio-conjugation. His research team has characterised successfully new synthetic peptide linkers (referred as Solid-Binding Peptides, SBPs) with unique binding affinities and specificities for inorganic silica-based materials. These SBPs have found applications in several areas including protein immobilisation, direct bio-conjugation and functionalisation of silica-coated magnetic and upconversion particles. A further development of this technology has resulted in the introduction of SBPs into more than 30 industrially-relevant enzymes. The fused SBP mediates the facile and specific immobilisation of these enzymes onto the inorganic matrix allowing for the enzymes to be recovered from solution and reused. This characteristic has immense potential in the field of protein (enzyme) design and cell-free synthetic biology allowing the performance of complicated biochemical reactions by the in-vitro assembly of enzymes into unique cell-free biocatalytic modules. Currently, we are exploiting this technology for the construction of natural and non-natural simplified enzymatic degradative pathways for the valorisation of organic waste through cell-free synthetic biology.

publications: google scholar list

DR ANDREW CARE

Associate Investigator

Andrew was awarded a PhD from Macquarie University in 2015. His PhD research focused on the application of genetically-engineered peptides to control the self-assembly and biofunctionalisation of nanomaterials and biomolecules. This work yielded an innovative bioconjugation technology for the simple and rapid biofunctionalisation of nanoparticles for cell capture, detection and imaging; and a novel rapid method to attach multiple lanthanides to biomolecules to impart luminescence for time-resolved bioimaging. Following his PhD, Andrew became a Research Fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), a transdisciplinary research centre that aims to develop innovative nanotechnologies to investigate complex living systems. In 2018, Andrew was awarded an Early Career Fellowship from the Cancer Institute New South Wales (CINSW) to fund the research project, Biological nanoparticles for the targeted delivery and light-triggered release of drugs. This project aims to develop novel protein nanocages for the targeted co-delivery and controlled release of therapeutics in the multimodal treatment of cancer. During his free time Andrew enjoys practising cricket and bass guitar.

publications: google scholar

EMERITUS PROF PETER L. BERGQUIST

Associate Member

Em Prof Bergquist is one of the pioneers of cloning and expressing genes from extremely thermophilic organisms and other extremophiles and has published on the diversity of culturable and unculturable thermophilic bacteria. His particular expertise is in gene cloning and expression, protein-nucleic acid interactions, the polymerase chain reaction and enzyme evolution. He was one of the first persons to clone and express genes from extreme thermophiles in bacteria and yeast. Peter’s interest in microbial biodiversity was initiated in 1990 with a then novel proposal to clone genes from unculturable micro-organisms as part of a successful bid to the Public Good Science Fund (NZ). This approach resulted from research with Thermus that had shown the influence of culture techniques on the bacteria that could be cultivated from extreme environments. He developed the genomic walking PCR technique to allow the isolation of genes from culturable and unculturable microorganisms without the necessity of constructing gene libraries. His work on the multi-domain “megazymes” with bifunctional catalytic activities from anaerobic extreme thermophiles has developed into a study of the specificity of the accompanying non-catalytic domains and their role in substrate binding. He has developed a novel method for enzyme evolution that is conceptually different from others in the field.
Peter is an international authority on cloning and high level expression of genes coding for enzymes useful to industry and he has a strong record of working with industry partners in Australia and overseas.  His current interests relate to directed evolution for the improved performance of thermophilic enzymes and the development of novel metabolic pathways using synthetic biology approaches, largely for biofuels and their precursors.

publications: google scholar

CURRENT STUDENTS

Alexander Gissibl
PhD candidate
Kerstin Petroll
PhD candidate
Vinoth Kumar
PhD candidate
Dominik Kopp
PhD candidate
Dennis Díaz
PhD candidate
Rachit Bansal
PhD candidate
Febrina Sandra
PhD candidate
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©2018 by Sunna Lab

Department of Molecular Sciences, Macquarie University