Dr John Lock
University of New South Wales
After completing his PhD at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, John became a pioneer in the field of Systems Microscopy, initiating and leading one of the first research programs in this area as a Postdoc and then Assistant Professor at the Karolinksa Institute in Stockholm. Systems Microscopy integrates novel combinations of experimental design, quantitative imaging, statistics, machine learning and data visualisation to reveal how complex cellular processes emerge from networks of molecular and functional dependencies resolved in time and space. John’s approach to Systems Microscopy focuses heavily on capturing and leveraging information embedded in natural cellular heterogeneity, applying experimental perturbations as a supporting strategy. Now establishing his lab at University of New South Wales Sydney, John is developing a program of fundamental research focused on cancer cell motility and self-organisation, as well as translational analyses of heterogeneity in cancer patient tissues to improve clinical decision-making for precision cancer medicine.
Systems Microscopy is an emerging research approach incorporating novel experimental design and automation, cell and molecular imaging, quantitative image analysis, statistical data interrogation and machine learning, data visualization and communication. Combining these multidisciplinary tools, Systems Microscopy enables simultaneous explorations of heterogeneity in molecular organisation (cell ‘Form’) and heterogeneity in cell behaviour (cell ‘Function’). By linking these measures in hundreds or thousands of single cells across heterogeneous and dynamic cell populations, we can define statistical relationships between cell Form and Function, which can in turn reveal systemic properties such as the diversity of cell states, dependencies between molecular or phenotypic features, and the sensitivities of these properties to extrinsic or intrinsic cues. Using vignettes from research on cell motility, cell polarization, protein expression heterogeneity and drug discovery, I will illustrate how Systems Microscopy complements both reductionist and Omics-based research methods, providing new opportunities to understand fundamental and translational cell biology.