Alexander I. May

Cell Biology

Alexander I. May

Specially Appointed Assistant Professor

Yeast physiologymitochondriacell biology


I’m from Melbourne in Australia, and have been interested in biology ever since I was a child. At my school, we had to study Japanese as a foreign language, which I also found really interesting, and I’ve been studying both ever since. I’m now working in the Ohsumi lab looking at the role autophagy plays in the lives of yeast. I would never have guessed this is what I’d end up doing if you’d asked me a decade ago, but I thoroughly enjoy being able to exercise my passions for both science and Japanese every day.

Expectations for WRHI

The WRHI programme has been an excellent opportunity for me to follow my passion for basic research in a stimulating and free environment. The WRHI provides ample facilities and support to conduct research, and I’m now able to focus on my work without too many distractions.

Research Projects

  • The role of autophagy in yeast growth and metabolism.

    I’m trying to understand the role that autophagy plays in yeast cells as they grow and proliferate, especially in response to changing metabolic conditions. Yeast are a great organism to use for this, because it’s easy to manipulate their genes, they grow very quickly, we have a relatively good understanding of how their metabolism works, and it’s also fairly easy to discriminate between the major modes of energy production when they’re growing. I’m interested in particular in the relationship between autophagy and mitochondrial function. To investigate this, I’m using a range of methods, ranging from the evaluation of growth to analysis of protein and RNA degradation and modification throughout different phases of culture.
    Period: 2016 - present
    Members: Member of the Ohsumi lab



PhD student, Monash University, Australia


Visiting scholar, Ohsumi Laboratory, Tokyo Institute of Technology


Specially Appointed Assistant Professor, Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Institute of Technology


Stuart Stone Medal for Biochemistry (Monash University, 2010)

2012 - 2013

Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Postgraduate Award (2012-2014)


MAY, A. I. & PRESCOTT, M. 2011. Hungry for Power: Elimination of Mitochondria by Mitophagy. Australian Biochemist, 42/2, 4-7.


MAY, A. I., DEVENISH, R. J. & PRESCOTT, M. 2012. The many faces of mitochondrial autophagy: making sense of contrasting observations in recent research. Int J Cell Biol, 2012, 431684.


ARAKI, Y., KU, W. C., AKIOKA, M., MAY, A. I., HAYASHI, Y., ARISAKA, F., ISHIHAMA, Y. & OHSUMI, Y. 2013. Atg38 is required for autophagy-specific phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase complex integrity. J Cell Biol, 203, 299-313.