Associate Professor Makrina Totsika

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Biofilms Theme Leader, QUT

PhD (University of Edinburgh)

Dr Makrina Totsika is currently a Principal Research Fellow at QUT. Originally from Volos, Greece, Makrina moved to Scotland in 1998 to study at the University of Edinburgh, where she graduated with a First Class BSc(Hons) in Biological Sciences-Genetics (2002), a MSc by Reseach in Life Sciences with Distinction (2003) and a PhD in Bacterial Genetics (2007). Makrina was the recipient of a prestigious Wellcome Trust 4-Year PhD studentship for her research project on virulence gene regulation in pathogenic bacteria that she conducted at the Centre for Infectious Diseases Research, University of Edinburgh. Makrina immigrated to Australia in 2007 as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Queensland. In May 2014, she joined QUT as an ARC DECRA fellow and in 2016 was awarded a QUT Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellowship. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018 and in the same year received the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research,  Partnerships and Engagement. Makrina has authored >80 scientific articles, reviews and editorials and has been awarded >$4M in research grants and fellowships from the ARC, NHMRC and philanthropic foundations. Her work is at the forefront of anti-virulence drug research and development, which is promising to revolutionise the way we treat bacterial infections that are no longer treatable with antibiotics. Makrina is a frequent science communicator and winner of the 2016 Queensland Young Tall Poppy Scientist of the Year award by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS). In 2016 she also received the Queensland Health and Medical Research Award for the Senior Researcher Category by the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR). She is an elected Fellow of the Australian Society for Microbiology which has recognised her with the 2018 Frank Fenner Award for her distinguished contributions to Australian research in Microbiology. In 2020, she was one of six recipients of the Georgina Sweet Award for Women in Quantitative Biomedical Sciences, with special recognition for Inclusivity.

Additional information

Flying Scientist 2017-2019 – ‘Engaging Rural Queenslanders in Science’, Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist and Wonder of Science

Research Supervisor for the QUT STEM for High Schools Research Internships Program since 2015

Wonder of Science, QLD State Conference 2019 – Brisbane, ‘Speed Meet the Scientist’ 

Regional World Science Festival 2018 – Toowoomba, ‘BUGS & DRUGS: The Resistance Wars

Regional World Science Festival 2017 – Chinchilla, ‘Amazing Microbes’

Public Lecture, National Science Week 2014 ‘When antibiotics stop working, the bugs fight back’

QLD Finalist, Fresh Science 2012 ‘Meet the next deadly E. coli  superbug’ 

Type
Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
2020
Details
Georgina Sweet Women in Quantitative Biomedical Sciences Award, including Excellence in Inclusivity
Type
Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
2018
Details
Frank Fenner Award
Type
Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
2016
Details
Winner of the Senior Researcher Category Health and Medical Research Award
Type
Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
2016
Details
Queensland Young Tall Poppy of the Year, Young Tall Poppy Science Awards
Type
Recipient of an Australia Council Grant or Australia Council Fellowship
Reference year
2013
Details
ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)
Title
Molecular Mechanisms of Novel Bacterial Copper Defense Proteins
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP190101613
Start year
2019
Keywords
Title
DsbA Foldases from Multidrug Resistant Pathogens as Targets for New Antimicrobials
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
1144046
Start year
2018
Keywords
Infection;Virulence;Enzyme Inhibitors;Enzyme Activity;Antimicrobial Therapy
Title
DsbA Inhibitors: From Hits to Leads
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
78570099
Start year
2016
Keywords
Title
The current multidrug resistant Escherichia coli pandemic: exploring novel therapies against the predominant culprit E. coli ST131.
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
78346476
Start year
2014
Keywords
Escherichia Coli;Adhesins;Virulence;Urinary Tract Infection (UTI);Multidrug Resistance;Fimbriae;Infectious Diseases
Title
Understanding how bacteria become sticky
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DE130101169
Start year
2013
Keywords
Bacterial Adhesins;Disulfide Bond Proteins;Periplasmic Chaperones