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Gavin leads the Knott Lab at Monash University in the Biomedicine Discovery Institute.

Gavin has a long-standing interest in RNA biology. His research interests over the years have been centred on understanding the evolution of diverse proteins that recognise one of biologies most remarkable polymers, RNA. Originally from country Western Australia, Gavin obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Western Australia in the labs of Prof. Charlie Bond and Prof. Archa Fox where he was trained as a structural biologist. His Ph.D. project sought to understand the mechanisms of long non-coding RNA binding proteins involved in human innate immunity and paraspeckle formation.

After completing his PhD, Gavin accepted a position in the lab of Nobel laureate Prof. Jennifer Doudna at the University of California Berkeley. Here he leveraged his training as a structural biologist to investigate the mechanisms of RNA guided CRISPR-Cas immune systems. During his postdoctoral years he described structures of RNA targeting CRISPR Cas13 systems, the mechanisms evolved by phage to overcome CRISPR immunity, and the molecular basis for precision CRISPR Cas9 genome editing tools. During this time, Gavin was the recipient of the Sir. Keith Murdoch Fellowship from the American Australian Association (2018), the Australian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Boomerang Award (2019), the Lorne Protein Anders Young Investigator Award (2019), and an NHMRC Investigator Grant (2020), the latter of which attracted him home to Australia.

In early 2021, Gavin relocated to Monash University to set up his own lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The Knott Lab is using structural biology (X-ray crystallography and CryoEM) and nucleic acid biochemistry to tap into the evolved diversity of uncharacterised bacterial immune systems. His lab seeks to uncover the molecular details of how these novel bacterial innate and adaptive immune systems specifically sense foreign nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) to protect against infection. By uncovering how these remarkably diverse systems function, they hope to better understand their evolution and enable the development of next generation biotech tools for diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Contact Gavin if you are interested and want to learn more!


Research interests

  • Structural biology of immune sensors
  • CRISPR Cas adaptive immune systems
  • Viral RNA sensing
  • Bacterial immune systems
  • CRISPR-diagnostics
  • Next-generation biotech tool development

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Education/Academic qualification

Biochemistry, Ph.D., University of Western Australia

Award Date: 12 Aug 2016

External positions

University of California Berkeley

Aug 2016Mar 2021

Research area keywords

  • RNA
  • Structural Biology
  • Cryo-EM
  • RNA binding proteins
  • Biochemistry
  • RNA Biology
  • RNA editing
  • mRNA


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