Originally from Brazil, Dr Jean Bertoldo moved to Australia from Germany to join Children’s Cancer Institute in March 2022, having been appointed Team Leader in the newly established Chemical Biology and Target-Based Drug Design Group.
Jean completed his PhD in Biochemistry at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil. He worked at both the University of Cambridge, UK, and the University of Lisbon, Portugal, developing new methods to chemically modify proteins to modulate their function. He then worked at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, where he developed a pioneering new drug for the treatment of ovarian cancer – a covalent inhibitor of an RNA-binding protein, which is the first of its kind.
At Children’s Cancer Institute, Jean is working at the interface of chemistry, drug discovery and cancer biology with the main aim of designing new drugs for the treatment of childhood cancers such as neuroblastoma. ‘Childhood cancer has been much more neglected than adult cancer in drug discovery,’ he explains. ‘My hope is to develop a new drug, a new treatment for an aggressive childhood cancer, which entirely avoids the problem of side effects.’
Jean aims to apply a unique computational chemistry and chemical biology platform he developed in Germany to streamline the drug discovery process, and is working closely with the Drug Discovery Centre and THerapeutic INnovations for Kids (THINK) to establish in silico (computer-based) drug design. A virtual screening facility, this will significantly reduce the time taken to develop promising drug candidates for clinical trials, and will be made available to other scientists at the Institute working on developing drugs with a protein target.
Father to a three-year-old boy, Jean says he is highly motivated to make an impact in the field of childhood cancer. ‘Here at Children’s Cancer Institute, I intend to use the full breadth of my experience to make a difference. When a passion for science combines with an unmet need in society, and you are provided with all the support you need, I believe you can succeed.’
2020 Wilhelm-Roux Research Award – Martin-Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg
2017 Potential Energy Author – Chem, Cell Press
2016 Science Without Borders – Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology