Biodiscovery - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Spider From Volker Herzigr


Biodiscovery Research

This theme focuses on the discovery of bioactive natural products and proteins from natural sources for applications mainly in the medical space but also as cutting edge technologies for aquaculture and to explore and understand the biology of life. The research conducted within this theme relies on state-of-the-art spectroscopy and spectrometry capabilities within the Advanced Instrument Facility at the Sippy Downs campus, such as triple quadrupole LC MS/MS, quadrupole Time-of-Flight MS/MS and NMR. The major areas of focus are discovery and characterisation of novel compounds with therapeutic potential (targeting bacteria, cancer, pain, epilepsy, gastrointestinal disorders and wounds) sourced primarily from plants, actinomycetes, fungi, arthropod venoms, aquatic species and bee products.

This theme currently includes significant research programs focusing on:

  • Antibacterial natural products from plant species from Far North Queensland, Australia
  • Wound healing compounds from Leptospermum honeys
  • Bio-active peptides from arthropod venom targeting cancer, pain, parasites and epilepsy (our team houses the world’s largest arthropod venom collection)
  • Bio-active compounds from actinomycetes as agro-biologicals (our team houses Australia’s largest actinomycete collection)
  • Wound healing and anti-cancer natural products from native stingless bee propolis
  • Bio-insecticides from arthropod venoms
  • Human milk and plasma lipidomics
  • Crustacean lipidomics
  • Application of bacteriophages and phage lysins as antimicrobials
  • Bioactive peptides from Australian tree frogs, targeting antibiotic resistant bacteria and human papillomavirus infection.
  • Bioactive peptides from the venom of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish as anti-biofouling agents.
  • Bioactive peptides from snails to prevent helminthic diseases.

Research Funding

Our research is funded both through strong industry partnerships as well as through competitive grants involving diverse collaborations from across the globe.

Key researchers and research areas

Trong Tran
Dr Trong D. Tran
  • Natural product chemistry
  • NMR and MS spectroscopies
  • Organic synthetic chemistry
  • Metabolomics
  • Computational chemistry
Tianfang Wang
Dr Tianfang Wang
  • Functional proteomics
  • Peptide chemistry
  • Biodiscovery
  • Natural bioactive peptides
  • Computational chemistry
Dr Peter Brooks
Dr Peter Brooks
  • Chemical analysis and isolation of compounds from natural materials
  • Expertise in chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques applied to the trace analysis of important compounds in biological and environmental samples
  • Isolation of bioactive compounds from honey and bee products, and the chemical monitoring of the environment
Senior Research Fellow Dr David McMillan will present a public lecture
Dr David McMillan
  • Biodiscovery
  • Drug development
  • Natural products chemistry
  • Population genetics
  • Conservation genetics
  • Plant reproductive biology
Fraser Russell
Associate Professor Fraser Russell
  • Investigation of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activity of Australian honeys. This project is supported by a Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) grant.
  • Determination of the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids in modulating immune responses in blood-derived macrophages from patients with abdominal aortic aneurysm.
  • Examination of the wound-healing potential of Australian stingless bee cerumen. This project entails isolation of novel compounds from cerumen and examination of their capacity to modify signalling events that are central to chronic non-healing wounds.
Volker Herzig
Associate Professor Volker Herzig
  • Arthropod venoms
  • Peptide toxins
  • Ion channels
  • Pharmacology
  • Toxinology
  • Molecular biology
  • Parasitology
  • Bioinsecticides
Scott Cummins
Professor Scott Cummins
  • Molecular neuroethology
  • Protein pheromones
  • Neuropeptides
  • Functional genomics
  • Invertebrate biology
  • Invasive species
Steven Ogbourne
Associate Professor Steven Ogbourne
  • Biodiscovery
  • Drug development
  • Natural products chemistry
  • Population genetics
  • Conservation genetics
  • Plant reproductive biology