09.23.2012 – 2012 FAOBMB Young Scientist Award Winner Announcement


2012 FAOBMB Young Scientist Award Winner Announcement

We are proud to announce Dr. Jade Forwood and Dr. Goh Lai Kuan have been awarded the 2012 FAOBMB Young Scientist Award. Dr. Jade Forwood and Dr. Goh Lai Kuan will attend the award ceremony and present their research work hosted by the FAOBMB President, Dr. Andrew H.-J. Wang at the 13th FAOBMB congress in Bangkok on November 28, 2012. FAOBMB Young Scientist Awards are to be given to highly qualified young scientists, one male and one female, from the FAOBMB region. These awards were made possible by a generous endowment from Professor Yasuhiro Anraku who was FAOBMB President in 1996-1998.

Dr. Jade Forwood
Young scientist winners (Male awardee)

Dr. Forwood’s research focuses on the nucleocytoplasmic transport mechanisms of proteins involved in viral replication, embryonic development and cancer, as well as enzymes involved fatty acid metabolism and inflammation. Using a range of structural and molecular biology techniques, he has made significant contributions to these research fields, including the X-ray crystallographic structure determination of the nuclear import receptor importin-β, a very large and flexible protein of 861 amino acids, both in complex with the GTPase regulatory protein Ran, and in its unliganded form. These structures have provided important insights into the flexibility within this class of nuclear import receptors, and importantly, their role in enabling solenoid proteins to orchestrate a wide range of protein interactions in nuclear import pathways. He has also determined the structures of a wide range of thioesterases ranging from prokaryotes to humans to provide important new functional insights into domain recruitment in eukaryotes and inflammatory pathways. His work has been published in many eminent international journals including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Progress in Lipid Research, Plant Cell, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Biochemistry, Structure, and Journal of Molecular Biology. Dr Forwood has solved and deposited 14 protein structures to the protein data bank, and been awarded funding support totaling more than $31 million  (c. half as CIA), including grants from highly competitive national and international funding agencies.

Dr Forwood completed a BBiomedSc. (Hons I) at James Cook University, a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (Australian National University), and was awarded the University Medal in 1998 and the Frank Fenner Medal in 2002 for most outstanding PhD thesis. Since completing his graduate studies, he undertook postdoctoral research in industry (Bresagen Ltd., Adelaide University), and then under an NHMRC CJ Martin Fellowship, research at the Laboratory for Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge for two years, followed by an additional two years at the University of Queensland. In 2007, he joined the School of Biomedical Sciences at Charles Sturt University to coordinate and lecture in Biochemistry, and currently supervised 6 PhD students, including a National Synchrotron Scholarship (Roman), 1 honours student and 4 masters students. He is the head of the Cell Biology research group within the Centre for Inland Health, Associate Head of School, editor for 2 international journals, and reviewer for many journals and funding agencies. In 2012 he was awarded a prestigious 4-year ARC Future Fellowship, and has been the recipient of various awards over his research career including an American Society of Cell Biology Travel Award, Centre for Inland Health research fellowship, Vice Chancellors Award for research excellence, and the FAOBMB Young Scientist Award.

Dr. Goh Lai Kuan
Young scientist winners (Female awardee)

Dr. Goh Lai Kuan received the Fulbright scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in Cell Biology, Stem Cells and Development at the University of Colorado, United States. She joined the laboratory of Alexander Sorkin, a renowned investigator of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) endocytosis. EGFR is a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase with known roles in maintaining cellular growth, survival, and differentiation and established importance in cancer development.

Through decades of intensive study, the molecular mechanisms that regulate internalization of EGFR have remained elusive. While in graduate school, Dr. Goh successfully generated the first kinase-active, internalization-defective EGFR mutant. This unique receptor mutant has provided a better understanding of the correlation between EGFR endocytosis and signal transduction in the context of cellular homeostasis in normal and disease conditions. While experimenting with this receptor mutant, she serendipitously discovered acetylation at three lysine residues in the carboxyl-terminal domain of EGFR. Dr. Goh went on to elucidate that multiple mechanisms—including acetylation, ubiquitination of the kinase domain, and AP-2 binding motifs—function in a combinatorial manner to induce EGFR internalization.

Findings from these studies led to the publication of highly cited original and review articles. In addition, these studies have been presented at conferences and invited lectures occurring across North America, Europe, and Asia. Dr. Goh has been the recipient of multiple awards from the University of Colorado and the National Institute of Health. She has also received individual funding through the Delta Kappa Gamma World fellowship and the American Heart Association predoctoral fellowship. Dr. Goh is honored to be the recipient of this year’s FAOBMB Young Scientist Award.

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