Emeritus Professor Ian Dawes

Honorary Visiting Professor
G14H, Samuels
(+61 2) 9385 2089
(+61 2) 9385 1483

Professional Experience

  • 2012- current: Honorary Visiting Professor, School of BABS
  • 2007-2012: UNSW Scientia Professor, School of BABS
  • 2009: Acting Dean, Faculty of Science, UNSW
  • 2000-2010 Director, Ramaciotti Centre for Gene Function Analysis, UNSW
  • 1998-2001: Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Life Sciences, UNSW
  • 1998: Visiting Professor, University of Salzburg, Austria
  • 1991-1996: Head, School of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics, UNSW
  • 1989: Professor of Genetics, School of Biochemistry, UNSW
  • 1972-1988: University of Edinburgh. Lecturer 1972-1987 and Reader 1988
  • 1970-1977: Univ of Wisconsin, Madison. Postdoctoral Fellow, Arthritis Foundation
  • 1971-1972: Brandeis University, Massachusetts. Postdoctoral Fellow, Arthritis Found
  • 1969-1970: Oxford University. Guinness Research Fellow and Junior Research Fellow

Research Contribution

Response of eukaryotic organisms to oxidative stress and ageing. Ian was a pioneer in the field of yeast responses to oxidative stress demonstrating that yeast cells have inducible responses to peroxides, free-radicals and lipid peroxides and showing the cellular role of glutathione using mutants affected in glutathione metabolism. His group also showed cells arrest in the cell cycle in response to oxidant damage; in G2 in response to H2O2, and in G1 in response to superoxide anion or lipid hydroperoxides. They identified the entire set of yeast genes involved in responses of cells to five different oxidants, providing an extremely detailed view of how particular cell systems function in the cellular defence, repair and survival mechanisms. Genes involved in signalling oxidative damage to cell cycle control have been identified, together with those involved in adaptive responses to reactive oxygen species. In collaboration with Prof Breitenbach he has shown cell ageing in yeast is affected by oxidative stress, and aged cells undergo a program of programmed cell death.

Molecular analysis of control of one-carbon and folate metabolism in yeast. Ian has also made a major contribution to understanding how cells control one-carbon metabolism in yeast. This elucidated the molecular basis of how 1-C metabolism is regulated, how cells control the flow of metabolites from the major 1-C donors (serine, glycine and formate) to the products and how the metabolic steps are modulated between the cytoplasm and the mitochondrion. This integrated the role of different controls at the level of gene expression as well as enzyme activity.

Molecular mechanisms involved in initiation and timing of cell development. Ian showed for sporulation in Bacillus subtilis and Saccharomyces cerevisiae that: cell development can only be initiated at a particular stage in the cell cycle; development can only be initiated in cells that have attained a particular size; and that genes are expressed in a sequential way during meiotic development. He determined molecular mechanisms controlling sequential gene expression by cloning and characterising promoters and analysing regulation of several sporulation-specific genes. This identified a control motif in meiotically activated genes which is responsible for one of the main switching events during meiotic development.

Honours & Awards

  • Elected Australian Academy of Sciences Fellow (2007)
  • UNSW Scientia Professorship, UNSW (2007-2012)
  • ARC Professorial Fellowship (2003-2007)
  • Chairman of the International Conferences on Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • President Lorne Genome Conference Inc. (1997-2000) and Board member (2000-)
  • President, Society for Free Radical Research (Australasia) (2004-5)
  • President-elect, Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2008)
  • Rhodes Scholarship (1966)
  • Editor: Microbiological Sciences (1984-88), Member of Editorial Boards: J Gen Microbiol; Yeast ; Mol Microbiol; FEMS Yeast Res; J Microbiol.
  • Member: Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute; Australian Proteome Facility; Scientific Advisory Board AGRF; ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology; ARC Molecular and Cellular Biology Grant Review Panel; ARC Research Grants Committee; EC Biotechnology Project Grant Evaluation Committees; Deputy Chair of ARC Biological Sciences Large Grants Panel; Deputy Director of CRC for Food Industry Innovation Member


Click here for Professor Dawes's publications list