Prof Andreas Lopata is a molecular immunologist and leads the Molecular Allergy Research Laboratory in the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine and the Tropical Futures Institute at James Cook University-Singapore. He graduated in biological sciences from the Henrich Heine University (Germany), completed his postgraduate studies in medical sciences at the University of Cape Town (South Africa) and worked in the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine before relocating to Australia.
His research team uses cutting-edge molecular and cellular approaches in characterising the interactions of immunogenic proteins from different food sources with the human immune system, leading to allergic and inflammatory reactions. The outcomes of his research translate into the development of novel diagnostics, platform knowledge for immunotherapeutics and detection systems for contaminated food products.
He is Regional Associate Editor (Asia Pacific) for the World Allergy Association Journal (WAO) and consults to the biotech industry, food companies and food standard regulation bodies.
He is working with BII scientist on the molecular and immunological cross-reactivity of allergens and food safety implications of alternative food proteins.
A/Prof Ben Smith is a risk assessor and toxicologist who has worked across industry, academia and government, He is particularly interested in the development of risk-benefit frameworks and the integration of human relevant and socially responsible safety methodologies into the regulatory approval processes for new ingredients and novel foods. His team is currently focussing on the development of gastrointestinal models to assess genotoxicity, bioaccessibility and bioavailability of orally ingested materials, including nanomaterials, considered for use by the food and consumer product industries. He is working with BII scientists (through the Innovations in Food & Chemical Safety Programme) on new approach methodologies to understand the mechanisms of toxicants as well as approaches to predicting the allergy of novel foods.
I am fortunate to continue working with our BII colleagues on a range of research projects where I can contribute my expertise in computer vision and machine learning. This results in over 5 joint research publications, including for example a PLOS Biology 2019 with Shuang on image-based tracking of fly legs, and a CVPR 2019 paper with Zhenguang and Shuang on 3-D fullbody pose prediction of humans and animals.
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Grüber has longstanding experience in structure and function of molecular motors and multisubunit complexes. He successfully collaborates with the BII, A*STAR members Dr. Peter J. Bond, Dr. Roland G. Huber and Dr. Alexander Krah on multiscale simulation and modeling of the mycobacterial F1FO ATP synthase.
Dr. Yoganathan is a Senior Principal Investigator at Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI), adjunct Scientist at Bioinformatics Institute from April 2020. He obtained his Ph.D. in Natural Product Chemistry (Organic Chemistry) from the Chemistry Department, University of Malaya in 1997.Prior to joining Bioinformatics Institute, he was heading the Natural Product Chemistry Group at MerLion Pharmaceuticals, focusing on natural product chemistry which included anti-bacterial and anti-cancer drug development in an industry based collaborative research, as well as supporting its antibiotic development programmes. From 1999 to 2002 he was a Senior Research Scientist at the Centre for Natural Product Research, IMCB. Current focus and capabilities at SIFBI include targeted and untargeted analysis in rapid chemical dereplication, differential analysis, metabolomics/lipidomics, large scale purification/enrichment of complex samples, structure elucidation of bioactive molecules, detection of adulteration, compound quantification and standardization. The ultimate goal is to support the development of interdisciplinary collaboration across SIFBI as well as industry partners and to encourage innovations in functional food and biotech sector that will enhance human health and quality of life.
Current research projects and focus areas: computational and systems biology of cancer, genome and transcriptome integrity and instability, statistical genomics and bioinformatics, secondary nucleic acid sequence structures, RNA-DNA hybrids and computational R-loop biology, non-coding DNA and RNA, single cell transcriptome kinetics, diversity, bifurcations in cell differentiation and proliferation, integrative sequence databases, big data and NGS data analytics strategies, quantitative onco-immunology, methods for personalized cancer diagnostics and prognosis and non-invasive detection of malignancy, and the development of innovative methods of identification and validation of clinically relevant onco-markers.
My group mines A*STAR Natural Product Library, which comprises of approximately 37,000 plant samples and 122,000 microbial strains, for bioactive compounds and enzymes for industry application. To this end we develop and implement biochemical and cellular assays to screen organic extracts derived from our plants and fermentates of microorganisms, for producers of bioactive secondary metabolites. Once an interesting and novel bioactive compound is discovered we will sequence the genome of the producer to identify its biosynthetic pathway. We also investigate methods to turn on the expression of secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters that are silenced or cryptic under standard laboratory growth conditions. We are working with BII scientists to develop in silico screening approaches to mine A*STAR Natural Product Library.
Dr. Paul Seekings is the Head of AI at eko.ai, one of Singapore’s upcoming AI health startups, aiming to revolutionize the way echocardiograms are conducted and analysed. He successfully collaborates with the BII, A*STAR members Dr. Lee Hwee Kuan and his group, on AI and machine learning techniques for view classification and segmentation of echocardiograms and cardiac disease prediction.
The focus of my group is to understand how miRNAs regulate tumor progression. We are studying how miRNAs regulate aggressiveness of oral tumors in oral squamous cell carcinoma patients. We are developing liquid biopsy based approaches to detect miRNA biomarkers from saliva that can predict tumour progression in these patients. This approach is also being extended to glioblastoma. My group also tries to understand the link between miRNA expression, cellular signaling and cell differentiation. These approaches have also been successfully used in studying differentiation of stem cells like mesenchymal stromal cells and embryonic stem cells as well as other systems like zebrafish, wound healing etc.
Heartiest congratulations to the 2021 cohort A*STAR scholars and warmly welcomes these talents to our A*STAR family!
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