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2009 Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Departmental Retreat

The bi-annual Retreat of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology was held in November at the Yarra Valley Conference Centre in Dixons Creek. The two-day, overnight Retreat focused on research, with presentations from senior researchers, the younger Group Leaders and new researchers to the Department.

Prof. Rob Pike, Head of Department, opened proceedings by welcoming the forty attendees. Prof. Pike’s opening remarks provided insight into the state of the Department and the strategies to be implemented to deal with future challenges.

The program was divided into five theme-based sessions, including Current and Future Developments within the Department; Structural Biology; and Cells, Organs and Organisms. The final session on Host-Pathogen Interactions provided research presentations with a technology focus.

Short facilities-based discussions covered what is available in the different areas of the Department. Dr Georg Ramm (Director of Electron Microscopy in MMI) provided an overview of EM facilities and developments. A/Prof. Matthew Wilce spoke on crystallography; A/Prof. Tim Cole spoke on mouse resources; Dr. Peter Boag discussed C-Elegans; Prof. James Whisstock spoke on protein production; and Prof. Ed Nice discussed proteomics and monoclonal antibody facilities at Monash.

Two guest speakers were invited. Prof. Michael Cowley (Physiology Dept) provided an overview of metabolic profiling resources on campus, while Prof. Peter Currie (ARMI) provided an overview of FishCore and associated facilities. In addition to presenting, Professors Cowley and Currie proved to be catalysts for discussion.

The MBio (Monash Biomed) Graduate Program was an important agenda item, as it has ramifications beyond MBio itself in terms of setting directions for possible research strengths within the School. This topic was presented by Prof. Rod Devenish (Interim Director MBio).

At the close of presentations on Thursday afternoon, Retreat guests were taken by coach to one of two social outings. There was a choice of either attending a wine tasting at Dominic Portet in Coldstream (see photo below) or taking a tour of the Coldstream Brewery. Guests returned in time for dinner at the conference centre.

Wine tasting at Dominic Portet

Wine tasting at Dominic Portet, Coldstream
Left to right:  Dr Alfons Lawen, Assoc. Prof. Martin Stone, Prof. Mibel Aguilar, Prof. Rod Devenish

Photo courtesy of Kip Gabriel