Dr Esteban Marcellin in the lab
Dr Esteban Marcellin in the lab
16 March 2011

Moving from Mexico to Australia has proved to be a wise decision for UQ researcher Dr Esteban Marcellin.

Not only has Dr Marcellin completed a PhD at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), he has just been awarded a prestigious award.

The 29-year-old from West End has received the Dean's Commendation for Outstanding Research Higher Degree Thesis.

It recognised his work in the field of understanding molecular weight control of hyaluronic acid production in Streptococcus zooepidemicus.

The hyaluronic acid has applications for use in pharmacy, implants, injections for osteoarthritis and eye surgery.

The acid has traditionally been sourced from a rooster’s comb, but Dr Marcellin’s research aims to instead source it from bacteria, eliminating the chance of contamination from avian viruses.

“We are using system biology to solve the problems we have not been able to solve for 10 years,” Dr Marcellin said.

“It has been a lot of work, but it is good to be recognised.”

Since completing his PhD, Dr Marcellin has taken a position as a Post Doctorate Fellow at AIBN to try to find a commercial partner to bring the technology to the market.

Dr Marcellin completed studies in chemical engineering at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and spent two years at a polymer company before moving to AIBN in 2006.

“I really like what I do. The challenge is not knowing. It’s not routine. It’s not repetitive. Every day there is something exciting happening,” he said.

Dr Marcellin is not new to studying in other countries, attending high school in France and undertaking undergraduate courses in Barcelona.

His arrival at UQ marked his first visit to Australia, but it did not cause Dr Marcellin any culture shock.

“It’s a nice place, with friendly people and nice weather. And the research field is similar to what I have seen in other countries,” he said.

Two graduates from Professor Anton Middelberg’s AIBN research group were also awarded a Dean’s Commendation.

Chemical engineering student Belinda Hartmann was recognised for her work on novel approaches to peptide production, while Daniel Lipin was commended for his processing of virus-like particles.

The Dean's Commendation program gives formal recognition to outstanding PhD and MPhil graduates who receive unanimous commendations from their examiners for a genuine and substantial contribution to their field of research.

Media: Dr Esteban Marcellin (0404 390 846) or Erik de Wit (3346 3962 or 0427 281 466)