Academic Vice-President and Dean,
Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
MB BS (University of Melbourne),
FRACP, FRCPA, PhD (Monash University)
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,
Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences
Building 64, Level 1
Monash University, Victoria 3800
+61 3 9905 4318
+61 3 9544 0183
Professor Christina Mitchell trained as a physician scientist specialising in clinical haematology. She received her medical training from Melbourne University and consultant training in Haematology at the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne. Her advanced clinical training in Haematology included a Ph.D. characterising the natural anticoagulant protein C and protein S. Her post-doctoral studies were undertaken in the field of intracellular signalling in Prof. Phil Majerus' laboratory at Washington University Medical School, St Louis, USA. In 1991 she returned to Australia and became an independent investigator at the Department of Medicine, Box Hill Hospital. In 1999 she was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University. In 2006 Prof. Mitchell became Head of the School of Biomedical Sciences at Monash University, which is the largest of the Schools within the Faculty of Medicine. The research-rich environment of the School is among Australia's best and the three recently opened modern Biomedical Sciences' precinct buildings are world class in quality and contain space for 800 researchers, providing a critical mass for the conduct of cutting edge medical research. In 2011 she was promoted to the position of Dean of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.
Professor Mitchell's work for the last twenty years has focussed on characterising the function of unknown genes that regulate cell proliferation and growth, and when mutated or deleted lead to human disease. Her research has been published in the best journals in the discipline, including EMBO Journal, Journal of Cell Biology, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Nature, Cell Metabolism, Cancer Research, Human Molecular Genetics and many others. Over the last 15 years Prof. Mitchell has received funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC), National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC), Muscular Dystrophy Association (USA), Cancer Council Victoria, Diabetes Australia Research Trust and National Heart Foundation.
Evidence of her compelling international profile is shown by invitations to write reviews on her field, including five reviews in the last three years in top Biochemistry journals. In 2012 she had two book chapters on lipid phosphatases published by Springer, in a book titled "Phosphoinositides I: Enzymes of Synthesis and Degradation", and she was also invited in 2013 by FEBS Letters and Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences to write two additional reviews. She has until recently been on the editorial board of the major Biochemistry journals, including Journal of Biological Chemistry, Biochemical Journal and IUBMB Life. Prof. Mitchell has presented the group's work at many national meetings and as an invited symposium and/or plenary speaker at international meetings (fully funded) including the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB), Edinburgh, 1996; Keystone meeting, "Lipid signalling molecules", USA, 2002; Japanese Lipid Signalling meeting, 2004; American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Boston, USA, 2004; Asia Pacific Conference on Diabetes 2005; IUBMB meeting Japan 2006; Biochemical Society Annual Symposium, "The Cell Biology of Inositol Lipids and Phosphates", Birmingham, UK, 2006. In 2007 she was invited to talk at the FEBS advanced course in Lipid Signalling Pathways in Italy, and in the USA at Inositide Signaling Symposia. In 2012 she was one of three organisers of a conference on Inositide signaling being hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences, New York, USA, and was also invited (fully funded) to speak at the "22nd International Union of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and 37th FEBS Conference", which was held in Seville, Spain, under the title "From Single Molecules to Systems Biology". In 2013 Prof. Mitchell was invited to speak at the International conference (fully-funded) in The Netherlands 'FHL1 related myopathies: towards an FHL1 related myopathy consortium', while in 2014 she was invited to speak at the international conference ‘39th Symposium on Hormones and Cell Regulation' in France.
In addition, Prof. Mitchell serves on various committees including the Organising Committee for the Hunter Cell Biology Conference, the Scientific Advisory Board of the Peter MacCallum Research Institute, on Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute Board and Burnet Institute Board.
In 1998 she was awarded the Monash Vice-Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Post-graduate Supervision and several of the PhD students from her group have been awarded prizes, or recommendations in the Premier's award, and/or NHMRC CJ Martin Research Fellowships. In 2003 she was awarded the Dean's Prize for Excellence in Research in the Medical Faculty at Monash University. In 2008 Prof. Mitchell was made a Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor, one of only 5 appointees in the last 20 years and only woman, and was also a recipient of a Monash University 50th Anniversary Research Award in the same year. In 2013 Prof Mitchell was awarded an Honorary Degree in Medical Science from The University of Melbourne.
The research group led by Professor Mitchell is currently researching the role of lipid phosphatases in development and human disease, and is also characterising the FHL family of LIM proteins in muscle disorders. The team has two major fields of research:
A. Characterisation of phosphoinositide phosphatases in development and disease.
PI3-kinase signalling has a critical role in many essential cell processes including cell survival, migration/invasion and protein trafficking. Many components of the PI3-kinase pathway exhibit altered expression or mutations in human disease and cancer leading to oncogenic signalling. Phosphoinositide phosphatases that regulate PI3-kinase pathway are also associated with human disease, including breast cancer, ciliopathy syndromes, diabetes/insulin signalling, neuronal disorders, leukaemia and developmental disorders. Our laboratory focusses on identifying the role of phosphoinositide 3-, 4- and 5-phosphatases in human disease, such as breast cancer, childhood brain cancer, glioblastoma, ciliopathies and renal disease. In addition, our research examines the role of phosphoinositide phosphatases in innate immunity and embryonic development. We have generated several ubiquitous and tissue-specific knockout, disease and cancer mouse models complemented with genetically manipulated mammalian cell lines, to facilitate our studies investigating the role of phosphoinositide phosphatases in human disease and development.
B. Mechanism of Skeletal muscle disease and identification of novel therapies
Professor Mitchell's group has also worked towards characterising the FHL family of LIM proteins for over a decade and has cloned several isoforms including FHL1A and FHL1B (SLIMMER), which are highly expressed in skeletal and cardiac muscle. The project aims to identify the role of these proteins in muscle, which have been shown to regulate critical functions including myoblast fusion, sarcomere formation, postnatal muscle growth and strength. More recently the Mitchell laboratory has examined fhl1 gene mutations as the cause of several human muscle diseases including Reducing body myopathy. This discovery has broadened the laboratory's research focus to investigate mechanisms underlying human muscle disease, for the identification of novel therapies. This strategy also includes the first group which is examining the role of phosphoinositide signalling pathway in regulating muscle homeostasis.