Professor Richard Payne elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science

25 May 2023
Sydney academic elected by peers to prestigious scientific institution
In recognition of his international leadership in chemical biology and organic chemistry, Professor Payne from the School of Chemistry has joined the ranks of esteemed scientists as a Fellow in the Australian Academy of Science.
Professor Richard Payne FAA. Photo by Stefanie Zingsheim

Professor Richard Payne FAA. Photo: Stefanie Zingsheim

An international leader in the fields of organic chemistry and chemical biology from the University of Sydney has been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

Professor Richard Payne joins 29 other esteemed Australian scientists, elected today to the academy, the pre-eminent independent scientific institution in Australia.

Professor Payne has been recognised for the development of a number of powerful technologies for the synthesis of modified peptides and proteins for applications in biology and medicine. He is also recognised for the development of peptide and protein drug leads for a range of diseases, such as anti-inflammatories, anti-thrombotics and anti-infectives (including for COVID‑19).

Peptides are short chains of amino acids that are linked together (such as phenylalanine or glutamine), whereas proteins are longer, more complex chains of amino acids.

An example of his team’s work has involved identifying modified proteins in tick saliva that can be developed to reduce inflammation and safely eliminate blood clots.

Professor Payne said: “It is such a massive honour to be elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. I am really proud of what my lab has been able to achieve over the past 15 years and I would like to thank the amazing PhD students, research associates, collaborators and colleagues at the University of Sydney for making it all possible.”

Professor Richard Payne with students

Professor Richard Payne with honours student Mel Shishido (left) and PhD candidate Kat Harrison (standing) in the CIPPS labs in the School of Chemistry. Photo: Stefanie Zingsheim

Professor Payne leads a research team of 25 medicinal chemists and chemical biologists in the School of Chemistry in the Faculty of Science. He is also a National Health and Medical Research Council Investigator Fellow and the Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Innovations in Peptide and Protein Science (CIPPS).

The mission of CIPPS is to discover new proteins and peptides from Australia's diverse flora and fauna, decode their biological functions, and engineer improved molecules to address challenges in health, agriculture and industry. 

The impact of Professor Payne’s research has led to the award of more than 20 prestigious prizes, including the Malcolm McIntosh Prime Minister's Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year, the Le Fèvre Medal from the Australian Academy of Sciences, and the AJ Birch and HG Smith Medals from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Emma Johnston said: “Professor Payne is an outstanding example of a highly motivated academic undertaking fundamental science that is delivering real-world impact.

“It is wonderful to see him recognised by his peers to be elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. It is a deserving honour for a generous and dedicated scientist.”

President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor Chennupati Jagadish, said: “Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science are among the nation’s most distinguished scientists, elected by their peers for ground-breaking research and contributions that have had clear impact.

“There is no greater professional honour than being recognised by your own peers and the leaders within your own field of research for your achievements.”