Barry Preston Award

Barry Preston

Professor of Biochemistry

Monash University

1965 - 2000

The BPA is presented by the MBSANZ annually to a senior researcher in the matrix field. The awardee is an outstanding leader distinguished by a sustained record of achievement, commitment to mentoring new researchers and exceptional communication skills.

Barry arrived in Australia from England in the early 1960s and was one of the first lecturers in Biochemistry at the newly established Monash University in Clayton, Victoria.

Barry’s research interest was the application of the principles of physical chemistry to biopolymers. Utilising model systems, Barry made major contributions to the understanding of the transport and excluded volume properties of matrix proteoglycans and hyaluronan. He was an enthusiastic teacher and mentor to young researchers and is remembered with great fondness and respect by those who had the good fortune to work under his guidance.

Barry was the driving force behind the formation of the Connective Tissue Society of Australia and New Zealand, as MBSANZ was then known, in 1975. He was the inaugural president of the society and served as such on four other occasions. He was director and board member of the Arthritis Foundation of Victoria.

Barry passed away in 2000 and in his memory, the MBSANZ established the BPA to honour his achievements in the matrix field. The award is open to any Australian or New Zealand researcher in the matrix field currently at a national or international research institution, who exemplifies the same passion for discovery and commitment to innovation that Barry typified.

2015 Barry Preston Awardee:

Professor John Whitelock

Professor Whitelock leads a multi-disciplinary team with foci in matrix biology, bioengineering, and the biomedical sciences. His research interests are focused on the roles of proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans (heparin /heparan and chondroitin sulfate) in the extracellular matrix and how they control tissue and organ development, wound healing and tissue regeneration, and the response to disease progression such as atherosclerosis, arthritis and cancer.

Prof John Whitelock graduated with a PhD from the University of Technology, Sydney in 1991 in cancer research where he identified and characterized the collagenases and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases produced by breast cancer cells. He completed post-doctoral studies at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, USA where he investigated the role of metalloproteinases and their inhibitors in oral pathologies such as periodontal disease. He returned to Australia and took up a post-doctoral position with the Division of Biomolecular Engineering and Molecular Sciences, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in 1993 where he began to investigate the role of extracellular matrix proteoglycans and wound healing in the cardiovascular system. In 2003, he moved his research activities to the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering at the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia. He was the Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Engineering at UNSW between 2010 and 2012 and has been the Head of the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering since 2012.

His most significant contributions to the field of matrix biology focus on the interactions between growth factors and the major heparan sulfate proteoglycan of the basement membrane, perlecan. Specifically, his contributions address the question of how perlecan isolated from different tissues and cell types signal cell receptors differently, how the structural differences in heparin / heparan sulfate chains affect bioactivity and how this activity is modulated by the release of the growth factors with enzymes. He was the first to show specific and differential binding of FGFs to heparan sulfate on perlecan and its subsequent release by platelet heparanase and metalloproteinases. He was the first to show that perlecan can be decorated with chondroitin sulfate as well as keratan sulfate (another glycosaminoglycan) and that this was cell and tissue-dependent. In more recent years he has been involved in showing how a similar phenomenon occurs with the related glycosaminoglycan, chondroitin sulfate attached to lubricin and bikunin. Recently, he led his research team to show for the first time that mast cells synthesise novel short forms of perlecan via proteolytic processing, alternative splicing and potentially other poorly understood post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms. Prof Whitelock has also made significant contributions to the field of matrix biology by demonstrating binding between perlecan and other matrix molecules using biophysical measurements such as surface plasmon-resonance and quartz crystal microbalance (with dissipation monitoring) analysis and state-of-the-art proteomic analyses.

Prof Whitelock’s research activities have been supported by competitive grants totalling over $7M, from the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Research Council and other Australian agencies (e.g. National Heart Foundation). He was awarded an UK exchange fellowship from the Australian Academy of Sciences in 2000 to work at the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, University of Manchester, UK on heparan sulfate sequencing.

Prof Whitelock has authored 97 international peer reviewed journal publications and has been cited over 2550 times with an average citation rate of approx. 26 and an H-index of 28 (Scopus). He has performed more than 280 oral and/or poster presentations at both international and local meetings including the Pan-Pacific Connective Tissue Society meeting in Hong Kong and the inaugural Chinese Matrix Biology Society meeting in Beijing in 2013, the 2012 Gordon Research Seminar as part of the Gordon Research Conference on Proteoglycans; the 2010 Gordon Research Conference on Proteoglycans; the 2008 Gordon Research Conference on Fibroblast Growth Factors and the 2009 and 2013 International Proteoglycan meetings. Prof Whitelock joined the editorial board of the journal Matrix Biology in January 2013 for a three year term and joined the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry in June 2014 for a 5 year term.

Prof Whitelock has supervised students and post-doctoral scientists who are now on staff at leading Universities around the world including University of California San Francisco, Copenhagen University, University of Minnesota, University of Sydney, the Children’s Cancer Institute at UNSW, Macquarie University and the Academia Sinica, Taiwan.

Prof Whitelock has been a member of the Matrix Biology Society of Australia and New Zealand since 1996 and was President between 2009 & 2011, Vice-President between 2007 & 2009 and treasurer between 2003 & 2007. He is a current executive committee member of the International Society of Matrix Biology. Prof Whitelock convened the 6th International Proteoglycan meeting in conjunction with the 2011 meeting of the Matrix Biology Society of Australia and New Zealand (MBSANZ) in Sydney and was on the organizing committee for the 7th International Proteoglycan meeting in 2013 in Frankfurt and now the 2015 meeting in Seoul. He has convened MBSANZ meetings in 2002 and in 2008 and was involved in setting up and organizing meetings for the Sydney Tissue Engineering and Matrix interest group (STEAM) between 2001 & 2008. He was a member of the organizing committee of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) meeting in Sydney, in 2010. He was a co-vice chair of the NSW branch committee of Ausbiotech between 2003 & 2005 and is a current member of the Australian Society for Medical Research (since 2008) and Australasian Wound and Tissue Repair Society (since 2009) and has been a member of the Australian Society for Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, (2000 – 2008) and Vascular Biology Society of Australia (1994 – 1998).

He is an inventor on two granted US patents related to the production of specific types of heparan sulfate, and their use to promote wound healing with both assigned to Agenta Biotechnologies, Birmingham, Alabama, USA In 2004, he was appointed to the scientific advisory panel of Agenta Biotechnologies, and was a chief / principle investigator on a grant funded by the NIH under the Small Business Innovation Round to fund proof of principle studies in support of the patent applications. He has been involved in other commercial activities including the licensing of antibodies as research tools to companies in Europe and the USA. He has multiple projects with industry in the proteoglycan and biomaterials areas and was instrumental in generating heparin mimetic biomaterials that incorporate the heparan sulfate structures that have been shown to bind and promote the activity of growth factors to promote tissue growth and repair. Prof Whitelock collaborated with HemCon Medical Technologies Inc and Synedgen on the generation of heparin mimetic materials for growth factor delivery.

Previous awardees :-

2015: John Whitelock, UNSW. The role of proteoglycans in the control of tissue and organ development

2014: John Ramshaw, CSIRO. Commercial applications of collagens

2013: Tony Weiss, University of Sydney. Elasticity, cell interactions and tissue repair

2012: Chris Overall, University of British Columbia. Degradomics reveals MMPs are key regulators of extracellular homeostasis and innate immunity

2011: Rik Thompson, Invasion and Metastatsis Unit, St Vincent's Institute, Melbourne. Causality and Consequence of Cell Shape Change in Cancer - Extracellular Matrix and Epithelial Mesenchymal Plasticity

2010: Christopher Little, Raymond Purves Bone and Joint Laboratories, Sydney. Topographic differences in musculoskeletal tissues - nature vs nurture

2009: Bruce Caterson, Cardiff University, Wales. The glycobiologyof the Stem/Progenitor cell niche

2008: John Bateman, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Australia. Extracellular gene mutations turned inside-out: cellular responses and extracellular consequences

2007: Amanda Foosang, University of Melbourne, Australia. Modulating chondrocyte hypertrophy in growth plate and OA cartilage

2006: Tony Poole, University of Otago, New Zealand. Cartilage chondrons and primary cilia: Mechanosensory mechanisms

2005: Miranda Grounds, UWA, Australia. Complex interactions between the extracellular matrix and skeletal muscle

2004: Lydia Sorokin, Lund University, Sweden. The role of blood vessel basement membranes in leukocyte extravasation into the central nervous system

2003: Jeremy Turnbull, University of Liverpool, UK. Heparan sulphates: structural diversity and specificity create functional versatility

2002: Peter Johnson, University of Sydney, Australia. Transforming growth factor-beta induction of extracellular matrix proteins in airway smooth muscleis mediated via connective tissue growth factor

2001: Veronica James, ANU Australia. Synchrotron fibre diffraction - the diagnostic tool of the 21st century

Dennis Lowther Award

Dennis Lowther

Professor of Biochemstry

Monash University

To be eligible for the Dennis Lowther Award applicants must :-
  • be financial, student members of MBSANZ
  • register for the conference and submit an abstract by the date determined by the local organising committee
  • present their research in poster format at the meeting
  • (students giving an oral presentation must also prepare a poster to be eligible for the award)

Dennis established the connective tissue research group at Monash University in the 1960s. This was the first group of its kind in Australia and under Dennis’s leadership developed a strong graduate teaching program. Many of the Australian leaders in the matrix field today, located both in Australia and overseas, can trace their beginnings back to this group.

To continue in the spirit of student mentorship initiated by Dennis, the MBSANZ established the DLA in 1992. The inaugural winner was Kathy Traianedes from St Vincents Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, who presented a poster entitled “Differential induction by retinoic acid of osteopontin and alkaline phosphatase when osteoblasts are grown on collagen”.

2015: Claire Vennin, Kinghorn Cancer Center Sydney. Advanced live imaging to monitor enzymatic targeting of tumour-stromal feedback in pancreatic xxxx cancer?

2014: Adam Piers, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne. The role of the extracellular matrix protease ADAMTS5 in skeletal muscle development and remodelling

2013: Adrian Kaczmarek, University of Adelaide. Intact versican (V1) promotes gene expression of a pro-inflammatory type 1 immune profile in macrophages

2011: Izza Tan, University of Adelaide. The metalloproteinase ADAMTS1 increases the capacity of mammary cancer cells to adhere to extracellular components

2010: Leona Tooley, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne. Collagen VI microfibril formation is abolished by an A2(VI) VWA domain mutation in a patient with Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy

2009: Leona Tooley, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne. Understanding the pathogenic mechanisms of the collagen VI vWA domain mutations

2009: Chantelle McIntyre, SA Pathology and University of Adelaide. Lentiviral mediated gene therapy for murine mucopolysaccharidosis

2008: Else Jacobson, North Shore Hospital. Focal injury induces widespread pathology in equine superficial digital flexor tendons

2007: Wilson Chan, University of Hong Kong. Ectopic expression of unfolded mutant collagen X in bone cells results in generalised hyperostosis in mice

2006: Rishika Pace, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne. Collagen VI triple helical glycine mutations cause UCMD

2005: Rena Hirani, University of Adelaide. LTBP-2 competes with LTBP-1 for binding to fibulin-1 and interacts with basement membrane collagen-IV

2005: Bianca Barnado, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne. CILP2: A novel ECM protein expressed in developing cartilage

2004: Tom Samiric, La Trobe University, Melbourne. Catabolism of newly synthesised proteoglycans in tendon and the effects of highly sulphated polysaccharides on this process

2003: Justin Allen, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne. Expression of WARP, a novel von Willebrand factor A-domain extracellular matrix molecule in cartilage

2002: Jessica Faggian, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne. Remodelling of the foetal lung is accompanied by changes in chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans and hyaluronan

Bob Fraser New Investigator Award

Applicants for the award are invited every year. Finalists are chosen from submitted abstracts and CVs (see criteria below) and are invited to present at the next meeting of MBSANZ. The winner is determined from the oral presentations and the award conferred at the meeting.

To be eligible for the New Investigator Award, applicants must :-

  • be financial members of MBSANZ
  • have no more than 10 years post-doctoral experience
  • register for the conference and submit an abstract for an oral presentation by the date determined by the local organising committee
  • provide a short CV

2015: Chris Turner, University of South Australia. Porous silicon nanoparticles loaded with flightless i neutralising antibodies improve healing of wounds in diabetic mice

2014: Giselle Yeo, University of Sydney. Balancing structure and flexibility in an elastic protein

2013: Cindy Shu, Kolling Institute of Medical Research, University of Sydney. Prevention and treatment of intervertebral disc degeneration with bone marrow derived stem (stromal) cells - an in vivo study in sheep

2013: Ainslie Derrick-Roberts (Runner-up), South Australia Pathology. Lentiviral mediated gene therapy improves bone mass and architecture but not bone length in mouse models of MPS VII'

2012: Dan McCulloch (Joint Winner), Deakin University. The biosynthesis and expression of ADAMTS15; a novel versican-cleaving proteoglycanase

2012: Miriam Jackson (Joint Winner), Kolling Institute of Medical Research. Protease Activated Receptor-3 (PAR-2), but not PAR-1, modulates synovial macrophage maturation in post-traumatic osteoarthritis'

2011: Dada Pisconti, University of Colorado at Boulder. Syndecan-3 in the muscle stem cell niche: implications for tissue maintenance, regeneration and muscular dystrophy.

2010: Trevor Cameron, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne. Expression profiling of the UPR in Schmid chondrodysplasia mouse models reveals signaling network induction that alleviates ER stress but disrupts hypertrophy causing growth plate elongation.

2009: Julie Nigro, CSIRO. Analysis of the fine chemical structure of glycosaminoglycans in cultured human embryonic stem cells and their feeder cells.

2008: Megan Lord, UNSW, Sydney. Chondroitin sulphate chain on bikunin alters with disease and gender

2007: Ian Smyth, Monash University, Melbourne. The Fras/Frem genes mediate embryonic epidermal adhesion

2006: Justin Allen, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne. Expression of the von Willebrand factor A-domain extracellular matrix molecule WARP during mouse embryonic development

2005: Jason White, University of Melbourne

Developmental expression of extraceullar matrix proteins and extreme muscle hypertrophy