Donald LoveBSC (HONS),PhD,BSC,FFSc(RCPA),CBiol,CSci,FRSB,FI
- Molecular Genetics
Dr Love undertook his PhD in the Biochemistry Department of The University of Adelaide studying extra-cellular protease and amylase synthesis by Bacillus amyloliquefaciens. The aim of this work was to gain insight into the molecular biology of prokaryote extracellular enzyme synthesis and secretion. He accepted a Research Fellowship in 1982 in the Molecular Genetics Group of the Department of Cell Biology, The University of Auckland. His research involved the construction and analysis of genomic libraries of several thermophilic bacteria; these bacteria were isolated from the hot pools of Rotorua, New Zealand. The aim of this work was to isolate genes encoding for thermostable enzymes of industrial importance e.g. proteases, amylases and cellulases.
Dr Love moved to Oxford in 1987 to undertake molecular-based studies of the allelic disorders Duchenne (DMD) and Becker (BMD) muscular dystrophies. This research involved the identification of the precise location of genomic deletions in DMD and BMD patients; the isolation of genomic probes distal to the DMD locus and subsequent refinement of the physical map of Xp21.2-Xp21.3; cloning of DMD gene sequences into prokaryote expression vectors in order to raise polyclonal antisera and monoclonal antibodies to defined regions of dystrophin protein; the identification of a chromosome 6 gene encoding a high molecular weight muscle protein with significant homology to dystrophin.; and the identification of BMD patients with large intragenic deletions of dystrophin that led to the development of dystrophin mini-genes.
A Senior Research Associate position was accepted in 1991 in the Department of Pathology, Cambridge University. Dr Love’s research concerned strategies to identify the gene implicated in the inherited cancer syndrome, Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia type 2. Dr Love returned to The University of Auckland in 1993 as a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Genetics in 1993, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1999 then to Honorary Professor in 2016. His research during this time concerned the molecular analysis of several heritable disorders (Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, Adrenleukodystrophy and Huntington Disease), together with establishing a zebrafish facility. His zebrafish work concerned the identification of zebrafish orthologues of human disease-causing genes and determining their expression profiles during development using quantitative real-time RT-PCR. This study was complemented by the use of peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) as effectors of gene knockdown, and the development of recombinants expressing double stranded RNAs to effect RNA interference of targeted zebrafish transcripts.
Dr Love moved to Auckland City Hospital in 2007 to become its Director of Diagnostic Genetics where his principal scientific role involved the development of new approaches to molecular-based diagnostics using innovative technology. These approaches concerned the implementation of bioinformatic approaches for the rapid design and evaluation of primers for the amplification of human disease-causing genes; the implementation of array-based molecular karyotyping; the implementation of custom array-based analysis of multiple genes to screen for deletion/duplication mutations; the implementation of massively parallel sequencing (MPS) strategies to replace conventional capillary-based Sanger-type sequencing to screen for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes; and the accreditation of his laboratory for Pathology Training in the discipline of Genetic Pathology- Medical Genomics (Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia). Dr Love was granted an Adjunct Professorship at AUT University in 2016.