Metals such as copper, zinc and iron are essential for the health of all animals

Many metals act as vital co-factors for a range of important proteins involved in respiration, nervous system development and function, immune responses and defending cells again free radical-induced damage. However, metals can also be highly toxic when present in excess and animals must maintain tight control over metal levels in various organs. Sophisticated genetic techniques in Drosophila allow the identification new genes controlling metal metabolism and enable the manipulation of known metal transport genes in specific cell types.

The Burke group has also explored the use of high energy X-rays generated by the Australian Synchrotron to detect metal levels in biological samples, allowing the direct imaging of changes in metal distribution caused by genetic manipulation of copper and zinc transport genes.

Imbalance in metals in the pancreas and brain are thought to contribute to diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. An improved understanding of the mechanisms by which animals regulate their own metal levels will provide insight into the pathogenesis of these conditions and hopefully pave the way to better diagnosis and even prevention or cure.

Our dynamic research uses a wide range of molecular techniques to investigate  protein function in complex organisms.
We have hosted Australian and international students and post-doctoral fellows. Alumni are employed in a range of fields. 
The Burke Research group have published scientific findings in a range of journals including The Ex Biol, PLoS One and JBIC.