My main research interest is the delicate interplay between protein structure, dynamics and folding with protein function - by itself and embedded in the context of the whole metabolism of a living organism. I study these relationships with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and a variety of other biochemical and biophysical techniques.
Dr Schirra's research interests extend from structural biology and protein folding to the applications of NMR-based metabonomics in clinical science and systems biology.
Dr Schirra is an NMR spectroscopist with more than 15 years of experience in the technique. He received his basic research training in Germany and Switzerland. He received his PhD from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich (Switzerland), where he elucidated the solution structure of one of the major proteins catalysing protein folding in E.coli. In 1999, he was appointed Research Officer at the University of Queensland. At UQ his research focuses on plant defense proteins, in particular the interaction of plant proteinase inhibitors with insect proteinases. In 2005 he was awarded a prestigious Queensland Smart State Fellowship.
Dr Schirra additionally specialises in clinical science and systems biology to decipher the "metabolic fingerprints" of individuals with NMR spectroscopy, in order to develop novel diagnostic methods, as well as to understand the connection between genotype and phenotype on the level of systems biology.