Professor David A Jans
NMHRC Senior Principal Research Fellow
BSc (Hons, University of Melbourne), PhD (JCSMR, Canberra)
+61 3 9902 9341
+61 3 9902 9500
Room 146, Building 77, Clayton
David Andrew Jans is a leading cell biologist who is widely recognised internationally for his seminal accomplishment in elucidating the process of nucleocytoplasmic transport and signal transduction in health and disease. His research career includes more than 250 refereed scientific papers (16 with over 100 citations, and 3 with over 300; over 9000 citations in all), multiple invitations to present at international conferences (7 plenaries, 2 keynote addresses, and 2 closing remarks speeches in the last 12 years), editorial board memberships of several eminent journals, and a H-index of 54. His meritorious awards include: IRPC (International Research Progress Council) Eminent Scientist of the Year (1999), the Danny Thomas Lecture Series Visiting Professor (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, 2005), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Senior Short-term Fellowship (2008), the GE Healthcare Bio-Sciences Award for Innovation in Research, 2005, and Dean's Award for Excellence in Research: Distinguished Research Career Award, Monash Uni. (2011). The most important motivation for his work is to try and "make a difference" to human health, by translating research contributions into tangible medical outcomes.
David is originally from Melbourne. After graduating (BSc. Hons) from the University of Melbourne Microbiology Dept. in 1980, he joined the Dept. of Biochemistry at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR) to carry out his Ph.D. studies with Graeme Cox and Frank Gibson on bacterial ATPase (completed 1984). He then took up a research scientist position at the Friedrich Miescher Institut in Basel (Switzerland), followed by a visiting fellowship at the Max Planck Institut für Biophysik in Frankfurt am Main (Germany), working in the area of phosphorylation and signal transduction in mammalian cells. In 1990, he became a Senior Scientist at the Institut für Medizinische Physik und Biophysik, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster (Germany), turning his focus to the use of quantitative fluorescent microscopic techniques, including the fluorescence recovery after photobleaching technique, to investigate transport processes. He returned in 1993 to the JCSMR (Division of Biochem. & Mol. Biol.), initially as a Fellow, to establish the Nuclear Signalling Laboratory, with a strong focus on the processes of protein transport into the nucleus. He rose to Senior Fellow in 1998, Full Professor in 2000, and has held a conjoint Professorial appointment at the James Cook University of North Queensland (Townsville, Australia) since 1998. He has been at Monash since 2002, as an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow (SPRF), with a personal chair.
His research endeavour encompasses analysis of (a) mammalian signal transduction from membrane to nucleus, (b) signalling at the cell membrane using biophysical imaging techniques, (c) the regulation by phosphorylation of transport into and out of the nucleus, using quantitative microscopic analysis, (d) nucleocytoplasmic transport kinetics in dynamic living cell systems using single cell confocal microscopic measurements, and the importance thereof in the function of proteins regulating cancer and development (d) the molecular basis of sex determination through impaired nuclear import, (e) microtubule-dependent "fast track" nuclear transport of cancer regulatory and viral proteins, and (f) nuclear import of specific viral proteins and its critical importance to infection by the lethal human viral pathogens Dengue, HIV, Rabies, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
His work has led to a number of important paradigm shifts in signal transduction theory, including the "Mobile Receptor Hypothesis", the concept of prNLSs (phosphorylation regulated nuclear localisation signals, including "the CcN motif") that confer regulated signal dependent nuclear transport, and the idea that polypeptide ligands and their membrane receptors can traffic to the nucleus and modulate transcription directly. He has shown that the efficiency of nuclear transport is critical to development in flies and humans (sex determination/testis differentiation), cancer, and viral disease. Significantly, his recent work examining the transport of viral proteins into and out of the nucleus and regulation thereof by phosphorylation has led to novel approaches to identify specific inhibitors of viral protein nuclear transport. Excitingly, these inhibitors are able to block infection by HIV and Dengue, indicating that the development in the future of nuclear transport inhibitors as anti-viral agents is a viable and interesting proposition.