The story behind the paper 1: Visualizing Biomaterial Degradation…

I want to tell the stories behind some of my publications: why the work was done, who funded it, the roles of team members, or stumbling across unexpected results.

In this post, I’ll tell the story of the team effort behind our latest paper in the journal ACS Applied Bio Materials.


The paper is about understanding one of the ways that pathogens cause disease: by secreting chemicals that degrade materials. We developed a method to visualise this process using Candida which shows how the digested material is taken up by the cell.

Studying this process will help us understand more about how pathogens cause disease.


Table of contents graphic from the paper. (C) American Chemical Society

The story behind the paper comes from working with a number of talented researchers who each added a piece to the puzzle. Along the way, we experienced several technical challenges, but it was finally solved when all the pieces came together.

The story starts when I won a 2016 internal university grant to investigate “best-defence” materials to outsmart pathogens.

Besides providing a small budget for consumables, funding was used to employ a number of internship students to come to the lab and work on this project.

The project was truly international: Malin Johnsson from Sweden, Joris Baranger from France, Giovanna Cufaro Gonçalves from Brazil.

Also, the interdisciplinary nature of this work involved post-docs who helped plan and execute the experiments specialising in chemistry (Thomas Michl), biology (Pratiti Nath), microscopy (Christie Bader), and microbiology (Carla Giles). Steph Lamont-Friedrich contributed her expertise in Candida.

Work would not have been possible without Prof Hans Griesser and A/Prof Sally Plush. Sally was instrumental for work involving the luminescent probes from ReZolve Scientific that was crucial in the visualisation experiments.

This project was also the subject of a promotional video which I talked about in an earlier entry.

Small grants like this are essential for funding investigative studies. These are just some of the benefits of such grants. It has

  • produced at least one good publication (with more to come)
  • contributed preliminary data to larger grant applications
  • increased international connections
  • provided training for students and post-docs

Finally, now that the the grant is finished, we have engaged various industry and commercial partners to explore applications of this research.

The link to the paper is here.



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