To explore natural product chemical space,to learn of and be inspired by molecules that drive ecological advantage, to acquire knowledge that will inform the development of new molecular tools, pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals.
To maintain and advance the quality of life enjoyed by modern societies requires an ongoing commitment to the discovery and development of:
New molecular tools, to advance knowledge of living systems, to design better pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals.
New pharmaceuticals, to improve and replace those that have become less effective, to bring to the community safer treatments for an ever-wider array of important diseases.
New agrochemicals, to ensure food/energy security with minimal environmental impact.
Irrespective of need, the discovery process is critically dependent on access to and knowledge of diverse, high quality molecular libraries capable of inspiring and informing the development of new products. Poor chemistry leads to wasted effort and no new products! Successful modern societies have historically relied heavily on natural products, which represent an extraordinarily diverse, pre-assembled pool of biologically active molecules, programmed by evolution to be potent and selective modulators of key biopolymers, cells, tissues, organs and animals. Access to Nature’s intellectual property, derived from the evolutionary equivalent of a billion-year global discovery program supported by an unlimited budget and a workforce of trillions, has delivered an array of privileged bioactive scaffolds. The journey to discover, develop, manufacture and deliver natural products to market, sparked and fuelled a revolution in global science, commerce and healthcare. The historic impact of natural products has been profound. Australia is rich in plant, animal and microbial biodiversity, inhabiting geographically diverse ecosystems from the northern tropics to southern temperate zones, and as far south as Antarctica. The mission of my research group is to explore this remarkable living resource, to discover new molecules and knowledge that inform and inspire the development of new and improved pharmaceuticals, as well as chemicals for use in agriculture and research. To achieve these goals we have assembled core expertise and infrastructure in organic, analytical, chromatographic, spectroscopic and synthetic chemistry, allowing us to discover a wide diversity of molecules, rich in unusual carbon skeletons, heterocycles and functionality. Strategic alliances further extend our capability into the disciplines of zoology, ecology and microbiology, as well as cell and molecular biology, pharmacology and biochemistry. Some therapeutic targets include neurodegenerative (i.e. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s) and infectious diseases, as well as cancer, diabetes and pain. We also target new chemicals to treat highly drug-resistant parasites in livestock, and explore chemical ecology as a means to control invasive pests (i.e. cane toads).