Drug Discovery Initiative

Innovative drug discovery to support better health outcomes
A dynamic and interdisciplinary network that brings together the best people, technologies and tools to enable early stage drug discovery research.

Our research mission

We are committed to designing and developing innovative tools and techniques to identify novel therapeutic targets, delivery mechanisms, and bioactive molecules with high potential for industry uptake and clinical translation.

The Drug Discovery Initiative is built on collective expertise in drug discovery research from across the University, underpinned by state-of-the-art infrastructure and input from scientific advisory groups. We are a point of contact for internal researchers looking to connect with complementary capabilities in the area of drug discovery research, or for external stakeholders looking to engage with our researchers.

Our research facilities

Through the Sydney Analytical Drug Discovery node, there are a suite of capabilities for the expression, purification and analysis of proteins of interest as targets.

This includes expression from bacterial, insect, and mammalian cells, X-ray crystallography and access to synchrotron protein crystallography.

Hit discovery and confirmation identifies molecules with activity against the target. We offer several methods to screen large libraries against your target of interest:

Medicinal Chemistry is used to optimise the properties of the hit molecule.

Launched in 2023, MedChem Australia integrates the expertise of three of the country’s leading medicinal chemistry groups (The Drug Discovery Initiative at the University of Sydney, in collaboration with the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, WEHI) and Therapeutics Innovation Australia to establish a national framework for translating discoveries into optimised drug candidates.

The first call for applications to access MedChem Australia is now open, closing March 8th.

Our facilities for 3D cell culture offer automated generation of organoids, and other 3D cell models, for use in evaluating the efficacy of new drug candidates.

Our people

Academic Director
Professor Michael Kassiou

Executive Officer
Dr Anna Renfrew

Executive Assistant and Project Officer
Ms Rhiannon Louis

The DDI works closely with a number of Centres, Networks and Schools, each with representation on our Steering Group.


Our Director

The Drug Discovery Initiative is led by its Academic Director, Prof Michael Kassiou. Michael is currently a Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University and an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow. He has been awarded several prizes including the Adrien Albert Award in Medicinal Chemistry and the RACI Applied Research Medal in 2020, and is Chief Editor for the journal Frontiers in Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Associate Editor for ACS Chemical Neuroscience.