Researcher

Professor Andrew John Brown

Biography

ABOUT ME

 

Biography

Since my undergraduate studies, my research has focused on various aspects of biochemistry involving fats (or lipids). Over the past 14 years, my focus has concentrated on one particular lipid which has become a by-word for heart disease risk, cholesterol. In fact, the cells in our body need cholesterol. However, too much cholesterol in our cells can cause disease, including heart disease. Therefore we have evolved an...view more

ABOUT ME

 

Biography

Since my undergraduate studies, my research has focused on various aspects of biochemistry involving fats (or lipids). Over the past 14 years, my focus has concentrated on one particular lipid which has become a by-word for heart disease risk, cholesterol. In fact, the cells in our body need cholesterol. However, too much cholesterol in our cells can cause disease, including heart disease. Therefore we have evolved an elaborate system for keeping the cholesterol content of our cells under tight-control. I had the privilege to work in the laboratory of Nobel laureates, Drs Joe Goldstein and Mike Brown in Dallas, who over the past three decades have revealed layer after layer of complexity of how cells regulate their cholesterol levels. Since arriving at UNSW, I have found two important new players involved in how our cells achieve cholesterol balance. First, I discovered that our cells can make a cholesterol-like molecule that helps to control cholesterol metabolism. Second, I discovered that a critical signalling pathway, often associated with cancer, plays an important role in cholesterol metabolism

Education

  • BSc Hons (USYD) 1985
  • PhD (USYD) 1991

Professional experience

  • 2013-current: Professor and Head of School, School of BABS
  • 2008-2012: Associate Professor, School of BABS
  • 2002-2008: Senior Lecturer, School of BABS, UNSW
  • 2000-2002: Visiting Scientist, UT Southwestern, Dallas
  • 1994-2000: Research Scientist/Project Leader, Heart Research Institute, Sydney
  • 1991-1994: Post-doctoral Research Fellow at The University of Edinburgh
  • 1987: Fellow, Department of Human Nutrition, The Agribultural University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

 

RESEARCH

 

My Research Goals

  • Discovering the link between cholesterol and cancer
  • New factor in achieving cholesterol imbalance in cells

My Research in Detail

Cholesterol and cancer

Cells need cholesterol to grow and proliferate, while cancer is a consequence of unrestrained cell growth and proliferation. We have exciting new data to indicate that there may be a fundamental link between cholesterol and cancer [Du et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell 2006 Jun;17(6):2735-45]. In this project, we use molecular cell biological techniques to further explore this link in the setting of prostate cancer. Methods will include mammalian cell culture, fluorescence microscopy, real-time PCR gene transfection, use of luciferase reporter assays, SDS-PAGE and Western blotting..

New factor in achieving cholesterol imbalance in cells

An imbalance of cholesterol in certain cell types plays a role in several diseases. Therefore, knowing precisely how cells regulate their cholesterol levels is central to understanding the development of these diseases, and to identify new possible treatments. The statin class of drugs, worth >$30 billion a year, have been effective in treating heart disease but are not without their side effects. Statins inhibit a very early step in cholesterol synthesis. This project investigates the regulation of novel control points later in cholesterol synthesis, which have been largely overlooked. Methods will include mammaliancell culture, recombinant DNA techniques, fluorescence microscopy, real-time PCR, gene transfection, metabolic labelling, use of luciferase reporter assays, SDS-PAGE and Westernblotting.

Research Grants

  • National Health and Medical Research Council Project APP1060515, Characterising a novel control point (squalene monooxygenase) in cholesterol synthesis beyond HMGCoA reductase, Brown AJ & Zelcer N, 2014-16, $465,000
  • National Health and Medical Research Council Project APP1041301, Identification and characterisation of novel proteins in endosomal cholesterol transport, Yang HY & Brown AJ, 2013-15, $522,000

Current PhD students

Anika Prabhu

Vicky Burns

Current Post-doctoral researchers

Laura Sharpe

Winnie Luu

Supervision Opportunities/Areas

Contact Andrew about research supervision opportunities: aj.brown@unsw.edu.au

In the School of BABS we teach undergraduates, mentor postgraduate research students and conduct research in the disciplines of biotechnology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, microbiology, environmental microbiology, medical microbiology and immunology. We empower our students, giving them the tools and experience to embark on a career that is richer, more fulfilling and constantly fascinating.

 

TEACHING & OUTREACH

 

Courses I contribute to teaching

BIOC2201 Principles of Molecular Biology (Advanced)

BABS3261 Human Biochemistry

Professional affiliations and service positions

  • 2011-current: Member of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • 2008-2010: National Director of the Australian Society for Medical Research
  • 2005-2008: Member of the NSW Executive of the Australian Society for Medical Research; Careers Day Organiser
  • 2004-2006: Newsletter Editor, Australian Atherosclerosis Society

AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS

  • 2012: Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence (Postgraduate Research Supervision)
  • 2012: Awarded first prize in the Poetry in Science contest run by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, published in the April issue of the magazine ASBMB Today
  • 2007-2009: Director of the Australian Society for Medical Research
  • 1987: International Agricultural Centre Research Fellowship
  • 1992: Young Scientist award from the British Nutrition Foundation
  • 1995: Young Investigator's award from the Oxygen Society (Pasadena, USA)
  • 1996: Travel award from the Sydney Free Radical Group

My Expertise

Biochemistry involving fats (or lipids), cholesterol.

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Location

Room: 241, Biological Sciences Link Wing D26

Contact

(+61 2) 9385 2029
(+61 2) 9385 1483