Professor & Deputy Head of Department (Education & Development)
Telephone: +61 3 9902 9157 - Office
I completed a B. Sc (Hons) degree and a Ph.D. in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Melbourne, working on the genetics and biochemistry of extracellular enzyme production in Clostridium perfringens . I then took up a postdoctoral position in the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin where I first worked on antibiotic resistance in C. perfringens . After a stint as a Research Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry in the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University, where I was a gene jockey in an enzyme kinetics group, I accepted a Lectureship and then a Senior Lectureship in the School of Veterinary Studies at Murdoch University in Perth. It was at Murdoch University that I established my first independent research laboratory and resumed my studies on antibiotic resistance plasmids in C. perfringens . It was also at Murdoch that I started my research on Dichelobacter nodosus , the primary causative agent of ovine footrot. In 1985 my research group moved to Monash University in Melbourne when I accepted a Senior Lectureship in the Department of Microbiology.
In 1991 I was promoted to Reader and in 1998 accepted a Personal Chair in Microbiology. In 1990 I was made a Fellow of the Australian Society for Microbiology and in 1995 was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. At Monash I have expanded my research interests to encompass molecular aspects of microbial pathogenesis, particularly of anaerobic bacteria. I was awarded the 1995 Silver Jubilee Research Prize of the Monash University Faculty of Medicine for my research on the molecular genetics of anaerobic bacteria. In 1989 and 1996 I undertook sabbatical stints at Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Arizona and the University of Melbourne. In 1999-2000 I was Associate Dean (Research Degrees) in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash and a member of the Microbiology Discipline Panel of the National Health and Medical Research Council. From 2004 to 2006 I was President of the Australian Society for Microbiology.
My current research interests focus on:
- the molecular analysis of clostridial transposons
- the biology of large clostridial plasmids
- regulatory networks in the pathogenic clostridia
- the pathogenesis of clostridial infections
- Pathogenesis, regulation and genomics of the footrot pathogen, Dichelobacter nodosus
This research is supported by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Research Council, the Australian Poultry CRC and the National Institutes of Health.
Research in my laboratory has made a major international contribution to our understanding of the molecular biology and genetics of anaerobic bacteria. Major achievements include the development of genetic methods for the manipulation of C. perfringens , proof of the essential role of a -toxin in clostridial myonecrosis or gas gangrene, the identification of a regulatory network that controls toxin production in C. perfringens, the identification of the first bacterial transposable genetic elements that move solely by a resolvase-mediated mechanism, the identification of pathogenicity islands in D. nodosus and the development of genetics in D. nodosus . I have played a major role in organising three International Clostridial Molecular Biology and Pathogenesis Conferences and have edited the following books.
- Rood, J.I., J.G. Songer, B.A. McClane and R.W. Titball, 1997. The Clostridia: Molecular biology and pathogenesis ., Academic Press, London.
- Fischetti, V.A., J.J. Ferretti, D.A. Portnoy, R. P. Novick and J.I. Rood. 2006. Gram Positive Pathogens, 2nd Edn, ASM Press. Washington.
I have always been keenly interested in the training of postgraduate research students and have been actively involved in making and implementing research training policy at Monash for over ten years.
I have successfully supervised 15 Ph.D. students to completion. These graduates now hold academic, research, industry or government positions in Australia, the USA, France and the United Kingdom. I have also supervised 32 honours students, all of whom obtained either a HI or HIIA grade. Many of these students went on to complete a Ph.D. in my laboratory or elsewhere. Honours projects in particular are designed with skills training in molecular microbiology as the main emphasis and take into account the limited duration of the honours year.
I would welcome both local and international inquiries about postgraduate or honours studies in my laboratory. Ph.D. scholarships may be available for prospective students with excellent academic records. Both fee and stipend scholarships may be available for international students. Please email as soon as possible if you are interested in studying in my laboratory.