IMB’s Chemistry and Structural Biology Division conducts pure, strategic and applied research in organic and medicinal chemistry, structural biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, virology, bacteriology, and biotechnology.

IMB scientists discover, design and synthesise new compounds, investigate the molecular and structural basis of physiology and disease, and invent new treatments to improve health.

Researchers within the division have expertise throughout the drug discovery pipeline and work together with academic and industry partners around the world to make important contributions towards understanding and treating a range of human diseases and conditions. These include: cancer; chronic pain; inflammatory, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases; obesity and type 2 diabetes; and bacterial, viral and parasitic infections. Our researchers are also working to develop more effective agricultural products and more efficient clean energy production systems.

During 2013, the division supported research in the following areas:

  • chemistry and human therapeutics
  • protein structure in drug and insecticide design
  • bio-inspired design of solar fuel systems
  • molecular biodiscovery: learning from nature
  • drugs and diagnostics for superbugs, viruses and cancer
  • antibiotic discovery, understanding insulin signalling and protein structure
  • design and discovery of bioactive peptides and proteins in venomous animals
  • pharmacology of marine toxins
  • combinatorial chemistry and molecular design.

The division uses advanced technologies in NMR spectroscopy; protein crystallography; computational design; chemical synthesis; protein and cell activation and signalling; tissue analysis; and rodent pharmacology.

Major funders of the division include the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Research Council, Queensland Government, US National Institutes of Health and industry partners.


Group leaders

  Name Title Research area Keywords
Professor David Fairlie Professor David Fairlie Division Head Chemistry and human therapeutics inflammatory disease; viral infections; cancers; Alzheimer's disease; cardiovascular diseases; type 2 diabetes; obesity
Professor David Craik Professor David Craik Group Leader Protein structure in drug and insecticide design  cancer; chronic pain; multiple sclerosis; cardiovascular disease; drug discovery; drug development; cyclic peptides; cyclotides; agriculture
Professor Ben Hankamer Professor Ben Hankamer  Group Leader Bio-inspired design of solar fuel systems biofuels; biohydrogen; biodiesel; algae; bioreactors; biotechnology
 Professor Rob Capon Professor Rob Capon  Group Leader Molecular biodiscovery: learning from nature  Alzheimer's disease; Parkinson's disease; cancer; infectious disease; malaria; tuberculosis; bacterial/fungal/parasitic infections; pain; obesity
 Professor Matt Cooper Professor Matt Cooper  Group Leader Drugs and diagnostics for superbugs, viruses and cancer  superbugs; antibiotics; viral/bacterial infections; tuberculosis; dengue fever; inflammation; drug discovery; drug development; cancer
Professor Paul Alewood Professor Paul Alewood  Group Leader Design and discovery of bioactive peptides and proteins in venomous animals chronic pain; irritable bowel syndrome; breast cancer; inflammation; congestive heart failure; insecticides; drug discovery; drug development
 Professor Richard Lewis Professor Richard Lewis  Group Leader  Pharmacology of marine toxins  chronic pain; peptides; drug discovery; drug development
Professor Glenn King Professor Glenn King  Group Leader Bugs and drugs  chronic pain; stroke; biotechnology; insect venom; insecticides; agriculture 
 Associate Professor Mark Smythe Associate Professor Mark Smythe  Group Leader Combinatorial chemistry and molecular design  asthma; leukaemia; inflammatory bowel disease; peptides; drug discovery; drug development 
  Dr Irina Vetter Group Leader Understanding pain pathways  chronic pain; toxins; ion channels; neuropathy; cancer; diabetes; irritable bowel syndrome; drug discovery; drug development


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