Chemical biology sits at the interface between fields of chemistry and biology. In contrast to biochemistry, which seeks to understand the chemistry underlying biological phenomena, chemical biology seeks to use chemistry to modify or investigate biology. Chemical biology is a highly interdisciplinary field and encompasses research areas such as directed evolution and protein engineering, the use of unnatural amino acids, the development of chemical probes, peptide chemistry, protein design and biocatalysis. The RSC is a key player in this area with multidisciplinary links across engineering, medical research, biology, materials and the social sciences. The Chemical Biology division in the RSC hosts two ARC Centres of Excellence, shares teaching of the Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with the Research School of Biology (RSB) and is also jointly leading the cross-disciplinary ANU SynBio Initiative.
The Chemical Biology division has outstanding in-house research infrastructure for protein production, purification and analyses (bioreactors; high-field solution and solid state NMR, high field EPR spectroscopy; high-resolution mass spectrometry) and a number of world-leading scientist in various areas of chemical biology at the RSC. It also a stakeholder in the ANUs state-of-the-art cryo-EM and confocal microscope platforms at ANU’s Centre for Advanced Microscopy and high through put drug screening facility at the John Curtin School of Medical Research.
RSC, and ANU more broadly, engages with industry and is supports commercialization of intellectual property in the chemical biology space. It is collocated with the CSIRO Black Mountain Division, which is part of new National Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Precinct and has recently established the cross school Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri-Technology. Over the past twelve months, RSC has established the spin-off company Samara which aims to develop a recyclable plastics using bioengineered organisms.