James believes that if you want to produce meaningful solutions to problems in nature, you have to think of the big picture. He completed a double Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Melbourne, majoring in subjects ranging from Social Theory to Biotechnology. It was here he first learned about signalling pathways; the complex molecular connections that program all living cells to grow, divide, and compete. He went on to study these pathways during his Honours project and PhD, in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma is a major cause of birth defects and neurological disease, and James successfully demonstrated that a class of curiously plant-like Toxoplasma enzymes are vital to its ability to escape attack by the human immune system, and lie dormant for decades in brain and muscle tissue. During this time, he also developed a passion for “proteomic” techniques: methods which can be used to give a snapshot of all the protein circuits which drive a human cell or pathogen at once. Now in the lab of Prof. Brett Finlay, James is applying these proteomics skills to reveal how Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (which causes severe diarrhea in children and the elderly worldwide) are able to “hack” the human gut, rewiring intestinal cell signalling pathways at a molecular level in order to cause disease.
Interesting facts: James enjoys writing, long dog walks in the mountains, and good coffee.
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