Dr Andrew Leis: reconstructing viruses in 3D
Dr Andrew Leis is a microscopist with expertise in electron tomography and correlative microscopy. He works within the microbiologically secure Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong, Victoria.
4 September 2009 | Updated 14 October 2011
Dr Andrew Leis is Leader, Electron Tomography and Correlative Microscopy within the AAHL Biosecurity Microscopy Facility (ABMF).
The ABMF has been established using funds invested through the Australian Government's National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).
Incorporated within the AAHL Collaborative Biosecurity Research Facility (ACBRF), the ABMF is a specialist microscopy service and a Linked Laboratory of the Australian Microscopy & Microanalysis Research Facility (AMMRF).
Offering a live-cell and cryo-transmission electron microscopy facility within a high biocontainment environment, the ABMF enables fundamental research with infectious disease agents that require the highest levels of containment. The facility is available to the Australian and international research fraternity.
Dr Leis has expertise in:
cryo-electron microscopy – an effective technique to investigate the structure of cells and viruses through three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction
correlative microscopy – studying samples using both light and electron microscopy. This technique is particularly useful for investigating the structural dynamics of how viruses enter and exit cells.
Dr Leis is particularly interested in researching the:
Dr Leis was born and raised in Queensland, Australia. He undertook tertiary studies at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba and the University of New South Wales, Sydney, before heading to Germany to undertake postdoctoral studies.
Dr Andrew Leis was a member of a team producing the world-first three-dimensional (3D) images of mycobacteria.
He completed a postdoctoral fellowship investigating the physico-chemical properties of biofilms within the Institute for Interface Biotechnology (now the Biofilm Centre), at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, before moving to the Department of Structural Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried in 2004.
At the Max Planck Institute, Dr Leis undertook another postdoctoral fellowship and was later promoted to Group Leader for Molecular Structural Biology. The group's studies focused on using microscopic techniques to analyse single macromolecules and complex supramolecular structures.
The techniques used included:
automated data acquisition and microscope control
cellular electron tomography for spatial investigations of intact cells
atomic force and scanning tunnelling microscopy
scanning near-field optical microscopy.
Dr Leis has been awarded a:
Bachelor of Applied Science (Hons I) from the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, Queensland
Doctor of Philosophy from the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, New South Wales.
Dr Leis's honours studies investigated the possible role of Mycobacterium ulcerans, the causative agent of the Buruli/Bairnsdale ulcer, in the condition necrotic arachnidism.
This phenomenon encompasses a broad spectrum of responses to spider bite, from very mild local skin damage through to major skin damage and systemic illness.
Dr Leis's doctoral studies focused on biofilms. His PhD thesis was titled The role of conditioning films from natural waters in the adhesion of bacteria to inanimate substrata.
In 2008, Dr Leis was a member of a team producing the world-first 3D images of mycobacteria, demonstrating that a double membrane surrounds the tuberculosis bacterium. This understanding opens up new ways of improving the development of chemotherapeutic substances against tuberculosis.
From 2007–09, Dr Leis was leader for the European Network of Excellence in 3D Electron Microscopy (3D-EM) collaborative research project 'Tomography of vitreous sections'. The tomography work package was one component of a research project funded by Framework Programme 6 of the European Commission.
Dr Leis also coordinated the European Union symposium 'Tomography of vitreous cryosections' at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in June 2007, including organising the training course 'Cryo-electron microscopy of vitreous cryosections' within the symposium.
Dr Leis was editor of a special edition of the journal Water Science & Technology [2001;43(6)], containing the proceedings of the First International Conference on Extracellular Polymeric Substances.
He has authored more than 30 peer-reviewed papers in international journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.
Learn more about the AAHL Biosecurity Microscopy Facility: high biocontainment imaging facilities.