• The University of Western Australia (M010), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Personal profile


Dr Owen Duncan is an early/mid-career protein scientist who has specialised in the use of protein mass spectrometry and bioinformatics to answer complex biochemical questions. Owen completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Western Australia in 2006 with First Class Honours in genetics. In 2012 he completed his PhD studies in the field of mitochondrial membrane proteomics and is currently the scientific lead at the UWA node of the Western Australian Proteomics Facility which he helped to establish in 2019. The WA proteomics facility (https://www.cmca.uwa.edu.au/facilities/wa-proteomics-facility) has attracted in excess of $6M in infrastructure and research funding from the Australian federal, state governments and UWA. His research focus is currently on quantifying the contributions of gene expression, translation and degradation to protein homeostasis. Owen has assisted a broad range of research projects with his proteomics expertise and unrestricted access to new and top of the range proteomics instrumentation. His ability to deliver innovative and impactful proteomics results for WA researchers is evidenced by his contributions to 40+ research articles cited 2300+ times.

Dr Duncan has a broad interest in protein biology with a specific focus on the development and deployment of mass spectrometry based proteomics and associated bioinformatics. During his PhD Owen developed a multipronged approach combining label free and isobaric tagging with differential enrichment strategies to discover the identities of proteins located on the outer mitochondrial membrane of mitochondria in Arabidopsis thaliana and characterise the function of protein import components (research publications in Plant Cell, Plant Physiology, review publications in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular Cell Research and Trends in Plant Science). He has contributed his expertise in the quantitation and functional characterisation of proteins to a variety of highly cited research articles aimed at characterising the signalling mechanisms underlying the coordination of mitochondrial and nuclear gene expression. Publications characterising the functioning of membrane bound transcription factor ANAC017 (Plant Cell, 242 cites), coordination of mitochondrial gene expression with circadian clock signals through TCP transcription factors (Plant Cell, 169 cites) and the role of CDKE1 in defining plant response to stress (Journal of Biological Chemistry, 114 cites) are examples.

A rapid increase in the depth of analysis offered by current generation proteomics instrumentation is aligning our ability to resolve the protein world with similar levels of detail available in transcript and genome analysis. Dr Duncan’s ability to design, implement and interpret world class proteomics data is evidenced by his contribution to a number of international research efforts published in leading journals. His contribution of proteomic and proteogenomic data to the wheat genome sequencing and assembly paper (Genome Research, 338 cites) helped confirm gene models and increase impact in this intensely competitive field. His contribution of label free quantitative proteomics data to a comprehensive effort to characterise the response of plants to water spray which incorporated ChIP-Seq, RNA-Seq, proteomics and metabolomics data helped to reveal the role of Jasmonate in signal transduction (PNAS, 52 cites).

Current generation omics technologies focus on static readouts of transcript, protein and metabolite abundances. Owen’s current research focus is on the use of stable isotope labels to assess the first derivative of protein abundance; rate of synthesis and rate of degradation. Knowledge of these variables is fundamental to begin the process of unpacking the cause and significance of perturbations in metabolic and signalling networks. Recent publications on the effect of high light on proteostasis (PNAS, 2022) and the pathway specific regulation of protein synthesis over the diurnal cycle (Plant Journal, 2022) speak to the value of such data types in unpacking biological complexity. The disconnect between transcript and protein abundances and particularly translation rates that these publications highlight have raised questions about the universality of translation initiation as the major contributor to translation rate control.

Dr Duncan is committed to enabling local and international researchers to access world class proteomics data through his association with the WA Proteomics facility. He is active in the Australasian Core Facilities Meetings, WA Omics (Australian Genome Research Facility, Geomics WA, WA Proteomics, Metabolomics Australia) and currently co supervises one PhD student through the UWA school of Molecular Sciences and have previously co supervised 4 PhD students and one honours student to completion.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research expertise keywords

  • Proteomics
  • Protein turnover
  • protein liquid phase separation
  • Protein mass spectrometry
  • Protein targeting and subcellular localisation
  • Metabolism
  • Bioinformatics
  • Statistical analysis


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