Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Dr Onisha Patel, a structural biologist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), visualises proteins that are important in cancer progression. Onisha uses cutting-edge techniques including cryo-electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography to see nanoscopic level details inside protein molecules in order to understand how they function and how they can become faulty. This is important for the design of more targeted therapy. In her previous role in collaboration with a drug discovery company, she worked on the structure based-drug design of protein kinase family that led to the development of Momelotinib which is currently undergoing clinical trials managed by Sierra Oncology. Her work in the field of structural immunology led to characterisation of some novel T cells, antigen presenting molecules and their antigens including the first structure of MR1, an antigen presenting molecule that recognizes vitamin metabolites. This work also led to a patent, Eureka Prize for Scientific Research and development of reagents that are now distributed by the NIH Tetramer Core Facility. Onisha is a Superstar of STEM selected by the Science and Technology Australia, to be a visible role model to promote STEM. She is a strong supporter of equality and inclusion in STEM and regularly visits schools and mentors at outreach programs. Additionally, she is deeply passionate about using art as a medium for science communication and education. She has communicated her research to a diverse audience through school visits, art exhibitions, discovery tours and Open House Melbourne events.

Experience

  • –present
    Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Education

  • 2004 
    RMIT University/CSIRO, PhD