Biology chemistry

Chemical Biology

Biological chemistry involves the scientific study of the chemical processes in organisms. This area deals with the structure and function of cellular components, such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and other biomolecules.

About

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.

Groups

New dyes for electron and energy transfer, Modular fluorescent tags and Lighting up sugars.
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Protein
We use a variety of spectroscopic, biophysical and protein chemical techniques to study molecular chaperone proteins and their mechanisms.
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The Huber group develops innovative tools to determine the 3D structure of biological macromolecules form sparse experimental data of different length scale.
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Molecule
Our research interests lie at the interface between biology, chemistry and physics where fundamental chemistry underlies biological function.
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Malins group
The Malins group develops synthetic tools for small molecule, peptide and protein synthesis, including for applications in chemical biology and drug discovery.
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Drug chemistry
The McLeod group employs a wide range of techniques to study drug metabolism.
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Bone tissue
The Nisbet Lab is focused on developing advanced biomaterials along three themes: Neural Tissue and Bone Tissue Engineering and Drug & Viral Vector Delivery.
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We develop chemical tools to target, manipulate and study peptides and proteins related to infectious diseases.
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We use NMR spectroscopy to assess the structural changes of proteins in response to other molecules in aqueous solution, i.e. under near-physiological condition
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Projects

A Trojan horse to combat malaria, Anti-doping chemistry, Enzyme engineering and Exploring the ‘sulfatome’.

Student intake

Open for Honours, PhD students

Theme

Analytical Chemistry and Sensors, Catalysis, Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Development, Organic chemistry

Allosteric inhibitors, Neobiochemistry and Engineering an insulin biosensor.

Student intake

Open for Honours, PhD students

Theme

Analytical Chemistry and Sensors, Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Development, Physical and Biophysical Chemistry

Computer-aided drug design , Antimicrobial resistance and membrane biophysics.

Student intake

Open for Honours, PhD students

Theme

Computational and Theoretical Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Development, Physical and Biophysical Chemistry

Infectious viruses such as dengue, Zika, West Nile, Chikungunya or SARS-CoV-2 have common Achilles heel: their protease. Proteases are key enzymes of viral replication and promising drug targets. The project explores constrained peptides targeting proteases available in our lab from flavi-, alpha- and coronaviruses

Student intake

Open for Honours, PhD students

Theme

Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Development, Organic chemistry

Modular fluorescent tags, Lighting up sugars and New dyes for electron and energy transfer.

Student intake

Open for Honours students

Theme

Analytical Chemistry and Sensors, Energy, Environment and Green Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry and Organometallic Chemistry

The group develops techniques to attach chemical tags to proteins site-specifically, to enable convenient analysis by NMR and EPR spectroscopy. This includes the use of cell-free protein synthesis with bespoke unnatural amino acids and specific labelling techniques. More at rsc.anu.edu.au/~go/index.html

Student intake

Open for Honours, PhD students

Theme

Physical and Biophysical Chemistry

Members

Researcher

Honorary Lecturer

Emeritus Professor

Associate Professor
Westpac Research Fellow

Associate Professor

Associate Professor Christoph Nitsche

Associate Professor
ARC Future Fellow

Honorary Professor

ARC Laureate Fellow