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Our research

Innovative approaches to understand and target disease
From ground-breaking fundamental research to preclinical screening and lead optimisation, we have over 150 research members across the University with significant capability in five major disease areas.
Cancer cells under a microscope


Our researchers are working to unlock the molecular mechanisms of cancers, developing innovative molecules for targeted interventions and more effective treatments in partnership with the Cancer Research Network.

Cardiovascular and metabolic diseases

Diseases relating to metabolic and cardiovascular disorder, such as diabetes and obesity, represent a rapidly growing health problem in Australia and globally. Drug discovery research in these areas are pursuing therapeutic leads to target such diseases, working in collaboration with the Cardiovascular Initiative and Charles Perkin Centre.

Central nervous system disorders

Neurodegenerative and central nervous system disorders such as dementia and systemic pain, affect 1 in 5 Australians and are becoming increasingly prevalent as our life-spans increase. We are working with researchers at the Brain and Mind Centre to identify targets and develop lead compounds that selectively modulate the central nervous system.

Infectious diseases

Our researchers are working to tackle the spread of infectious diseases and overcome drug resistance by discovering new targets and lead compounds for tuberculosis, malaria and fungal infections. This research is in collaboration with the Marie Bashir Institute for Infection Diseases.

We are also supporting urgent research into COVID-19 drug discovery through platfoms for drug screening and protein production and a seed funding program in partnership with the Marie Bashir Institute.


Regulating the body’s inflammatory responses for treating pain and inflammation have applications in a growing list of disorders.

Our research focuses on the identification and validation of novel targets implicated in pain, inflammation and autoimmunity, with potential applications in the understanding and treatment of cancers, central nervous system, metabolic and cardiovascular disorders.

Researcher spotlights:

A/Prof Anthony Don profile picture

Anthony Don

With support from the DDI, MRFF, and Victorian State Government, Associate Professor Anthony Don is leading a project to develop new drugs for the treatment of type-II diabetes using the advanced robotic high-throughput screening at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

The program will generate compounds that can reverse systemic insulin resistance, a cause of type 2 diabetes, without the side effect of additional weight gain associated with most existing drugs. Find out more about A/Prof Don’s program here.

A/Professor Julie Djordjevic

Julie Djordjevic

With seed funding from the DDI EMCR Translational Innovations program and the Marie Bashir Institute, A/Professor Djordjevic’s research identifies key enzymes for anti-fungal drug design and develops new compounds to target them. These new drug candidates have the potential to overcome the significant side effects and sub-optimal efficacy of current antifungal treatments.

DDI funded projects

  • Development and application of a new drug discovery strategy to valuable therapeutic targets(Joel Mackay, Richard Payne, Jason Low, Mary Christie)
  • Tumour-Selective Metal Chelators for Multiple Theranostic Applications (Louis Rendina, Peter Rutledge, Peter Lay, Rachel Codd, Zdenka Kuncic, Viive Howeel, Kelly McKelvey, Dale Bailey, Hillary Byrne, Alexander Engel, Mitra Safavi-Naeini, Benjamin Fraser, Nigel Lengkeek)
  • Identifying inhibitors of a fungal inositol polyphosphate kinase as a new antifungal therapy  (Julianne Djordjevic, Jacqueline Matthews, Lorna Wilkinson-White, Tania Sorrell, Philip Thompson (Monash))
  • Screening Stem Cell-Derived Inhibitory Neurons to find novel pain killers (Greg Neely, Mary Collins)
  • Discovery of Potent SARS‐CoV‐2 Entry Inhibitors via mRNA Display (Richard Payne, Toby Passioura, Joel Mackay, Annelise Ashhurst)
  • Further development of CoVID-19 targeted monobodies as therapeutic and diagnostic reagents (Jason Low, Joel Mackay, Toby Passioura, Jamie Triccas)
  • Cholesterol accumulation in late endosomes/lysosomes to reduce coronavirus infection (Thomas Grewal, Phil Hansbro, Kim Chan)
  • Therapeutic targeting of TGF-β and Smad3 in SARS-CoV-2 infection (Tim Newsome, Hannah Sassi)

Find out how the DDI can help to support your research.