Research Supervisor Connect

Artificial Intelligence in Ion Channel Drug Discovery


Application of machine learning and artificial intelligence methods to develop models predictive of drug activity, selectivity, stability and distribution. The project will be conducted in close collaboration with an overseas biotech company and involves opportunities to perform part of the research overseas.


Associate Professor Thomas Balle.

Research location

Camperdown - Brain and Mind Centre

Program type



This project is focused on the use and development of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence methods towards finding new drugs for treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders, including schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease. The overall goal of the project is to develop methods that speed up the drug discovery process and increase the overall quality of the final products.
The PhD project is supervised by experts from two academic groups in Australia - experts in Artificial Intelligence and in Computational Modelling of drug receptor interactions, and by an external supervisor from the Danish biotech company, Saniona, which is focused on treatment of brain diseases by modulation of ion channels. Therefore, the project offers excellent opportunities for working and learning from both academic and industrial environments.
The PhD student should have a strong background in computational chemistry, bioinformatics and/or computer science and modelling.
The project will exploit the unique assembly of high-resolution biological data related to ion channels combined with over 100,000 chemical structures in a database collected during more than 20 years of continuous drug discovery efforts in the biotech company. This unique combination of expertise and data constitute an ideal basis for development of computational models that can be trained using artificial intelligence methods. The models aim to predict effects of drugs on various ion channel receptors, predict biological stability and drug distribution in the body as well as predict adverse effects of drug candidates, which will speed up discovery and likely increase the quality of new drug candidates.

Additional information

Scholarship available!This project is funded by NSW Health and involves a scholarship worth $40,000 per year for three years (conditions apply). The project involves close collaboration with an overseas biotechnology company and the student is encouraged to spend part of the 3-year period overseas working with the company. For more information, please see here:

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2973