Professor Ian Small

The University of Western Australia
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Ian Small's PhD at Edinburgh University (awarded in 1988) was followed by a long career with France's National Agronomy Research Institute (INRA) first as a postdoc and later as a tenured research scientist. He held the Vice-Director position at the Plant Genetics & Breeding Station in Versailles and the Plant Genomics Unit in Evry. In 2005 he was awarded a WA State Premier's Research Fellowship and moved to Perth to become the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology Director early in 2006. Ian is Chairman of the Fachbeirat (Scientific Advisory Board) for the Max-Planck-Institut for Molecular Plant Physiology in Golm, Germany, and in 2006-2007, he was Chairman of the Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee (MASC, a US National Science Foundation-funded committee that coordinates world-wide Arabidopsis research by making recommendations to scientists and funding agencies). Ian's PhD work on plant mitochondrial genomes (EMBO Journal, 1988; Cell, 1989) changed the way we view their evolution, revealing unsuspected dynamic changes that are only now being understood. Building on these discoveries, his post-doctoral work on mitochondrial genes involved in cytoplasmic male sterility (Molecular and General Genetics, 1992) contributed significantly to the development, patenting and commercialisation of INRA's technology for male-sterile brassicas used in the breeding of elite hybrid lines. Much of the canola grown globally is now produced using this technology. Ian's research has focused on the cellular machinery involved in translating messenger RNAs into proteins (The Plant Cell, 1996; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 2005), and on the transport of RNA and proteins into organelles (EMBO Journal, 1992). However, his research interests evolved rapidly to take advantage of the functional genomics technology emerging from the sequencing of the Arabidopsis nuclear genome. He coordinated the large European Union Framework 5 project, AGRIKOLA, that has provided unparalleled tools to the scientific community for analysing gene function in Arabidopsis (Genome Research, 2004) by the exciting new technology of RNA interference. He is perhaps best-known for the discovery and characterisation of the pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) family of proteins, a huge family of 450 proteins involved in controlling gene expression in mitochondria and chloroplasts (Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 2000; The Plant Cell, 2004, 2007, 2008).

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Contact Information

Street Address:
Plant Energy Biology, ARC Centre of Excellence The University of Western Australia (M316) 35 Stirling Highway CRAWLEY WA 6009 Australia
Ph: (+61 8 ) 6488 4499