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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

Cancer

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 Sydney Institute for Infectious Diseases.

We are also supporting urgent research into antimicrobial and COVID-19 drug discovery through platforms for drug screening and protein production and a seed funding program in partnership with Sydney Institute for Infectious Diseases.

Inflammation

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/Professor Julie Djordjevic

Julie Djordjevic

With seed funding from the DDI EMCR Translational Innovations program and the Sydney Institute for Infectious Diseases, 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.

Read more about her research.

Mark Gorell profile picture

Mark Gorell

A team of researchers led by Professor Mark Gorrell have recently published their research into the protease DDP4 as a possible target of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, The multidisciplinary team were able to show that, unlike MERS,  SARS-CoV-2 does not bind human DPP4. This work was performed in collaboration with the DDI COVID-19 protein production platform and Sydney Analytical Drug Discovery node.

DDI-funded projects

  • Creating mature cardiomyocytes from patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells to assess anti-arrhythmic drugs (Dr Aaron Gilmour, Dr Clara Tran and Dr Seakcheng Lim)
  • Developing the next generation of senolytic drugs for cardiovascular diseases (Dr Matthew Graus and Dr Paul Coleman)
  • Unlocking cardiovascular disease by engineering patient-specific blood vessel mimics (Dr Praveesuda Michael, Dr Marie Besnier, Dr Yuan Lam, Dr Richard Tan, Dr Nianji Jang)
  • A PROTAC-based bioengineering platform for more efficacious antiplatelet drug discovery (Dr Xuyu Liu and Dr Daniel Ford)
  •  Creating Hit-to-lead optimisation of small molecules that reduce toxic TDP-43 inclusions in cellular models of frontotemporal dementia (Dr Andrew Montgomery)
  • Novel Cyclic Peptides Targeting FXII for the Treatment of Diabetic Wounds (Dr Daniel Ford)
  • Identifying effective drugs to target hypoxia with high-throughput screening-a new approach to overcome radioresistance of Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas (DIPG)    (Dr Han Shen)
  • Characterization of LRSBP: A novel SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor that suppresses infection(Dr Lipin Loo)
  • Targeting cMYC: A new assault on an unconquered summit (Dr Jason Low)
  • Promoting blood vessel formation in hypoxic tissue by manipulating a novel oxygen sensing pathway (Dr Mark White)
  • Fragment-directed cyclic peptide inhibitors for the treatment of adolescent bone cancer (Dr Yu Heng Lau)
  • 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)
Andrew Montgomery

DDI Fellow

Dr Andrew Montgomery

With a background in medicinal, organic and computational chemistry, Dr Andrew Montgomery - the inaugural DDI Fellow - sees his future in the field of drug discovery. Find out more about his work, and how he's benefited from being part of the DDI community.


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