About Associate Professor Renae Ryan

I am fascinated in how the brain works and what goes wrong in neurological disease. I have a passion for experimentation and understanding how membrane proteins work.

Dr. Ryan’s research focuses on understanding the way in which proteins move molecules across the cell membrane, in particular, she studies transporters for the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. The human glutamate transporters play an important role in regulating normal neurotransmission in the brain and their dysfunction has been implicated in disease states such as Alzheimer’s disease, Motor Neurone Disease, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Ischemia following a stroke. Dr. Ryan was involved in determining the crystal structure of a bacterial glutamate transporter which has revealed an atomic level snapshot of this protein and has given us many exciting insights about this family of proteins. The structure of the bacterial transporter allows us to predict the structure of the human glutamate transporters, the conformational changes that occur during transport and also how drugs bind to and affect these proteins. Dr. Ryan purifies this bacterial protein, studies its structure and function and then relates this information back to the human glutamate transporters. Dr. Ryan’s work on this bacterial glutamate transporter has sparked international interest and has been published in the leading scientific journals Nature, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology and The Journal of Biological Chemsitry. She has also been invited to speak at many international conferences and is the recipient of a number of scientific prizes.

Dr. Renae Ryan is an Associate Professor in the Discipline of Pharmacology and a NH&MRC Career Development Fellow. Dr. Ryan graduated with a PhD from The University of Sydney in 2004 and then spent one year as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University, New York, USA. Dr. Ryan was awarded a NH&MRC CJ Martin Postdoctoral Training Fellowship in 2005 and moved to the National Institutes of Health, Maryland, USA before returning to The University of Sydney in 2007.

Selected publications

For a comprehensive list of Associate Professor Ryan's publicatons, please visit her Sydney Medical School profile page.