About Associate Professor Anthony Don

My research program uses sophisticated mass spectrometry platforms, genetic mouse models, and human tissue samples to investigate the underlying biochemical basis for Alzheimer’s disease and metabolic disease. We also develop new chemical probes and assays, breaking down the barriers that prevent many researchers from investigating the very important role that lipids and lipid-derived signalling molecules play in cell biology and physiology. Our research employs a broad range of highly sophisticated research techniques that you will have the opportunity to learn as a student in my group.

My research combines internationally-leading expertise in lipid biochemistry and mass spectrometry with human tissue samples and genetic mouse models, to decipher the underlying basis for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions, as well as metabolic disease. I have recently identified deficiencies in myelin lipid biosynthesis that destabilise myelin early in Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis, and loss of the essential neurotrophic signalling lipid S1P. My research group has now established that S1P declines with age in the post-menopausal female brain, providing a mechanism through which ageing promotes neurodegeneration via myelin degeneration. These findings are tremendously important from a therapeutic perspective, since agonists of the S1P receptors are currently used to treat multiple sclerosis. I have a very strong interest in maintaining our group at the cutting edge of modern biochemistry, systems, and chemical biology. As such we are constantly striving to develop new methods and chemical tools. In very recent research, we have developed the world’s first specific inhibitor of any member of the ceramide synthase enzyme family. Following this discovery through into mouse models of obesity, we have now established a new role for the ceramide synthase 1 enzyme in fat deposition and weight gain.

I received a PhD in biochemistry and molecular pathology at the University of New South Wales in 2004. I then undertook postdoctoral research as an NHMRC research fellow at the Scripps Research Institute, California. Here, I further developed my interest in the modern field of chemical biology that started with my PhD. I began establishing a research group in lipid biochemistry and signalling at the University of New South Wales in 2009, and moved my team to the University of Sydney and Centenary Institute in 2016.

Throughout my career the members of my research team, my collaborators, and I have published our research in outstanding international research journals such as Cancer Cell, Nature Medicine, Nature Chemical Biology, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Analytical Chemistry, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Acta Neuropathologica, and Neurobiology of Aging. All students that I supervise have the opportunity to present their work at both national and international conferences, and complete their postgraduate studies with research publications in excellent journals.

Selected publications

Please see Associate Professor Anthony Don's Academic Profile page for a list of publications