Meet alum Dr Alvin Lo, a senior scientist at Rhythm Biosciences who oversees the development, production and supply of commercial recombinant proteins and antibodies.
Alvin completed his PhD in Molecular Microbiology at the University of Melbourne in 2008, before heading abroad to Texas and then onto Vrije Universiteit in Brussels. He worked there as a research fellow before returning to Australia in 2014 and joining the University of Queensland.
In 2018 Alvin took up a semi-academic position at WEHI to give himself the opportunity to “dip his toe in the water” and see if he would enjoy a career outside academia.
The groundbreaking research being undertaken, coupled with the diverse and inclusive culture, is what attracted Alvin to WEHI.
Joining as a Senior Biologics Research Fellow, Alvin led and managed the implementation of advanced antibody technologies. Specifically, single B-cell cloning for recombinant monoclonal antibody generation and phage display alpaca nanobody platforms.
“I really enjoyed collaborating and providing technical advice and delivering cutting-edge nanobody and monoclonal antibodies for colleagues, collaborators and external stakeholders in order to help with and even solve an array of complex biomedical research problems,” explains Alvin.
After nearly two years at WEHI, it had crystallised that he thoroughly enjoyed the challenges that working on multiple projects brings and Alvin took the leap into industry, joining Rhythm Biosciences in March 2020.
“In this role I oversee and manage the development, production and supply of commercial production-ready form of recombinant proteins and antibodies for use in our medical diagnostics technology.”
“It’s quite exhilarating to be at the forefront and drive the translation of basic science research to commercialisation. Working for a smaller company, I’m learning a lot of new things on a daily basis, and this exposure has broadened my skillset in business, manufacturing, regulatory approval, logistics and supply chain management,” says Alvin.
Although Alvin left academia several years ago, he recently co-authored a paper in PLOS Pathogens. The paper explores extra-intestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC), with the study
describing a mechanism of adaptation that augments establishment of an ExPEC gut reservoir to seed disseminated infections, providing a pathway for the development of targeted anti-adhesion therapeutics.
Alvin continues to stay in touch with many of his former colleagues and friends from WEHI, and in his spare time, you’ll find him cooking and baking diverse cuisines and goods, or propagating and rescuing plants, bringing them back to life with some TLC.