Convocation of UWA Graduates

UWA graduate wins $8 million Snow Fellowship to ‘unlock nature’s toolbox’ for RNA biomedicine

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When young Gavin Knott commenced his undergraduate degree at The University of Western Australia in 2008, he probably never imagined the stellar heights to which his studies and career would take him.

Convocation Annual Elections 

UWA graduate wins $8 million Snow Fellowship to ‘unlock nature’s toolbox’ for RNA biomedicine

 

When young Gavin Knott commenced his undergraduate degree at The University of Western Australia in 2008, he probably never imagined the stellar heights to which his studies and career would take him.

Just 14 years later, Dr Knott – who previously worked for four years as a postdoctoral fellow with Nobel Laureate Professor Jennifer Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley, investigating how the CRISPR-Cas machinery targets nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA at a molecular level – has just been awarded a prestigious Snow Medical Foundation Fellowship.

Leading the Knott Laboratory at Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Dr Knott is one of only three researchers in Australia to receive the $8 million, eight-year, fellowship to develop Australia’s next generation of biomedical research leaders.

 “The Snow Fellowship will support me and my team to take the necessary risks to make transformative discoveries,” Dr Knott said.

“We are in an exciting era of RNA-based biological therapeutics, but we lack a lot of the enabling biotechnologies to realise the full potential of RNA.

“With the support of Snow Medical, my team can tap nature’s existing toolbox to unlock the next generation of transformative biotechnologies that empower RNA biomedicine.”

Dr Knott is one of 65 RNA researchers within Monash’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute, the largest cohort in Australia.

 

“My studies and experience at UWA were critical to my journey both overseas and back home in Australia,” said Dr Knott, who graduated from UWA with a Bachelor of Science with first-class Honours in Biochemistry in 2012, and a Doctor of Philosophy in 2016.

“As scientists, we all stand on the shoulders of giants. I am so thankful to my inspirational and supportive mentors at UWA who helped me to get where I am today.

“I’m excited to follow in their footsteps by providing a cutting-edge research environment that supports the development of Australia’s next generation of scientific leaders.”

Warden of Convocation Clinical Professor Lesley Cala congratulated Dr Knott on his sensational win and commended him on the innovative, ground-breaking RNA research he is undertaking.

“It is just wonderful to see such a talented, young UWA graduate achieve so much in such a short time,” she said.

“We wish Dr Knott every success with this important cutting-edge work and look forward to an opportunity to welcome him back to the UWA campus to tell us all about his amazing journey to winning this Snow Fellowship.”

Gavin Knott

Gavin Knott Biography

Dr Knott completed a Bachelor of Science with first-class Honours in Biochemistry at UWA where he received the Faculty of Life of Physical Sciences Medal. With a prestigious Hackett postgraduate scholarship, he completed a PhD at UWA under the supervision of Professor Charlie Bond and A/Professor Archa Fox.

In 2016, Gavin relocated to the University of California, Berkeley to work with Nobel Laureate Professor Jennifer Doudna as a postdoctoral research fellow supported by an American Australian Association Fellowship. During a prolific five-year postdoctoral fellowship, he made fundamental contributions to the understanding of CRISPR tools that are now used for RNA detection, DNA editing, and the control of gene editors.

His work has been recognised with the Australian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Boomerang Award and the Robin Anders Young Investigator Award in 2019.

Gavin returned to Australia in 2021 when he was awarded an NHMRC Early Leadership Investigator Grant to establish the Nucleic Acid Sensors laboratory in the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University. With the critically enabling support of a Snow Fellowship, Gavin and his team are working to uncover the next generation of innovative molecular tools to power the global RNA biomedicine revolution.

Facts

  • The membership of Convocation comprises over 129,000 graduates of UWA.
  • As a community and network of graduates, Convocation forms the electorate for elections of members to the UWA Senate and the Council of Convocation.
  • Further information on Convocation is available at www.convocation.uwa.edu.au.