Leading scientist to head Griffith’s Eskitis Institute

The new Director for the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery, Professor Jennifer Martin
The new Director for the Griffith Institutef or Drug Discovery, Professor Jennifer Martin

Griffith University has attracted a scientist with expertise in antibacterial discovery and insulin signalling to head its world-renowned Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery.

New Director, Professor Jennifer Martin, with a 20 year career in research, is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Queensland Smart Women Smart State Award Winner.

She says she is very proud to be leading the Institute to the next level.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to build on the foundation already established at Eskitis. The research and resources here are incredible. It’s a great privilege to take on this role.”

Professor Martin’s own research aims are to understand the role of proteins in disease and to develop novel drugs that target disease-causing proteins.

“My team works on antibacterial drug discovery to address the growing issue of antibiotic resistance,” she said.

“We also work on diabetes, focusing on proteins that support membrane trafficking in cells to help regulate blood glucose levels in response to insulin signalling.

“Through collaborations in Australia and the US we are unravelling the dynamic interactions induced by insulin binding to muscle and fat cells.

“This research aims to understand what goes wrong in insulin signalling, and in neurotransmission, as both systems have the same machinery underpinning them.”

Professor Martin is proud to take on a leadership role in academic science, a field which is often dominated by men.

She is a foundation member of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) committee that is running a pilot of the UK Athena SWAN Charter program. The pilot was launched in Parliament House Canberra in September 2015.

Griffith University has signed up to the pilot, which aims to promote greater gender equity and develop a more inclusive culture in the Australian science sector.

“I am very enthusiastic to join Griffith which already has a strong presence of women in leadership roles, particularly in science.

“Women face many challenges. We need to change the system that was set up a hundred years ago by men with stay-at-home wives and make it fit-for-purpose in the 21st century.

“We must retain the best scientists and innovators from the entire population, not half of it, to ensure Australia maintains its research and development excellence.”