Molecular Horizons

A centre for molecular and life sciences

The molecular life sciences are at the forefront of scientific discovery, unlocking the innermost secrets of the living cell and developing new ways to detect and attack disease. If cancer is to be cured, new classes of antibiotics developed, and Alzheimer’s disease reversed it will most likely be biochemists and molecular biologists powering these breakthroughs. Molecular Horizons is dedicated to illuminating how life works at a molecular level and solving some of the biggest health challenges facing the world.

Molecular Horizons brochure

The University of Wollongong's new $80 million research facility

Molecular Horizons is dedicated to impact-driven research where the world’s best molecular research is put into practice to improve and save lives. To enable this world-leading research UOW has invested in a suite of revolutionary technology including Australia’s most powerful biological electron microscope, the Thermo Fisher Titan Krios.

[00:00:14] This course has really inspired me to go into research and pursue that career in science, like I want to do this for the rest of my life.


[00:00:23] What was really great about the staff and the supervisors here is the Hands-On training that I received.


[00:00:30] Throughout your degree I've especially made some really close friends with when you share the same interests, it's a different level of friendship.


[00:00:38] So we look at proteins, so a lot of these proteins are motor proteins and have they have some sort of a job that they do in the cell, we bring in the researchers, which would be students, honour students, Ph.D. students, postdocs and even professors. And we train them from end to end on how to do cryo electron microscopist. We'll bring them in. We'll show them how to freeze the samples. We'll show them how to prepare them for the electron microscope, we’ll train people on electron optics. We'll take them through a full course to understand everything about the electron microscopes, and then we'll bring them here to sit down with the microscopes.


[00:01:22] It’s been especially great in the molecular horizons building with all the amazing new facilities that we've got, all the amazing lab areas and the technology, especially the electron microscope.


[00:01:32] My speciality is cryo electron microscope. And we look at three dimensional structures of proteins and nuclear protein complexes. So these are what I refer to as bio nano machines. These are these tiny molecular machines that carry out processes in cells to sustain life.


[00:01:51] So I thought this course has been amazing because it's really given me a strong introduction into science as a whole and it's give me a lot of hands on practical work.


[00:01:59] So we have a range of machines here that allow us to do various things. So the first instrument is our T12. That's a low resolution instrument. We use that for training. The students can get inside of that. We use that for negative stain and for training purposes to get low resolution structures. From there, we usually take our students from the T12 to the Arctica, which is our intermediate resolution microscope, which is where they could start to explore how well their protein purification went and get an initial structure, maybe two, three, four Engström resolution. From there we have the Cryos, the Titan Cryos microscope, which is allows us to really push that resolution down into the sub tWo Engström resolution zone and allows us to actually see the atoms and start to build models at high resolution.


[00:02:52] So what I really loved about this degree so far is all the lab experience that we've been able to get throughout the years, and especially with the opportunity to do research project subjects. Its teaching you a lot of lab experience that you definitely know that you need in the future.


[00:03:07] I think the thing which I love most about my course is that I'm able to get hands on experience of some of the most amazing technology and up and coming research in the world.


[00:03:18] This year, I completed my honours project during which I resolve the structure of a protein from tuberculosis. It's thought that it's implicated in the antibacterial resistance of the disease. So it is quite an important protein. What was really good about doing the honours at this particular facility is the hands on approach to training that I received. All of the staff are incredibly helpful.


[00:03:39] We are always interested in working with students. We love raising the next generation of scientists because being enthusiastic is one of the most important things in being a scientist.


[00:03:50] I say throughout the years in my degree, I've had some really great lectures. You can tell they're very passionate about what they do and it comes through in the lectures a lot of the time and they get you to really interact.


[00:04:00] So one of the advantages of working in my group is that students don't learn just one thing. This is a multidisciplinary group, research group. My background is also multidisciplinary. My BS is in biology, my master's is in biotechnology, my Ph.D. in biochemistry, molecular biology, and my post-doctoral training is in structural biology and molecular imaging.


[00:04:23] One thing which has been amazing has been the lifelong friends I’ve made during this journey, like I've made friends who I know I will keep for the rest of my life. We've been in the same situations. Being able to work in a lab with your friends, with people you know is just a great experience.