NHMRC Principal Research Fellow
Professor, Institute for Molecular Bioscience
Professor, School of Chemistry & Molecular Bioscience
Matt Cooper completed his PhD in Australia in 1995 and then spent 13 years in the UK, first at the University of Cambridge, then in start-ups and biotechnology companies. This involved innovation, fund raising, intellectual property generation, licensing, product development and commercialisation. He returned to Australia in 2009 as a NHMRC Australia Fellow. He has consulted with Private Equity Investment, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology and Diagnostics companies, was Managing Director of Cambridge Medical Innovations (part of Alere Inc.) and CSO of Akubio Ltd. He is an inventor and driver of a several antibiotic drug discovery programmes with lead compounds pre-clinical. He is an expert in label-free technologies and their application to drug discovery and development with two books in this field. Full CV
Personal Assistant and Group Coordinator
Danielle Sutherland joined the Cooper Group in June 2015 as Personal Assistant to Professor Matt Cooper and Group Coordinator for the Cooper Group. Danielle holds a Master of Commerce degree and has over 20 years experience in providing executive level support. Previously Danielle worked as Executive Support Officer to the CEO of Trade and Investment Queensland and as Business Development Manager at ActewAGL (Canberra) after emigrating from South Africa in 2012.
Our Research Academics
Dr. Mark Blaskovich is a Senior Research Officer with extensive medicinal chemistry expertise and over 15 years of industrial drug development experience. As Chief Operating Officer at Mimetica (Australia), he managed the drug discovery and development program for melanocortin-5 receptor antagonists leading to a compound currently in Phase II human trials. In his role at CEPTYR (Seattle) he led a multidisciplinary team that developed a preclinical candidate for protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B, while at Molecumetics (Seattle) he headed a $2m/yr industrial collaboration on peptidomimetic compounds targeting proteases and GPCRs. Since 2010, Mark has been working on antimicrobial drug discovery projects at UQ, and is currently CO-ADD program coordinator for hit validation and chemistry. He has published over fifty articles and patents, including 'The Handbook on Syntheses of Amino Acids’.
Dr Mark Butler has been a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland since September 2009. Prior to this, he worked in Singapore at MerLion Pharmaceuticals focusing on natural product chemistry and anti-bacterial drug development. Dr Butler is a recognised expert in natural product based drug discovery with over 15 years of experience in industry based collaborative research and has published over 85 papers and 4 patents. He was awarded the Matt Suffness (Young Investigator) Award by the American Society of Pharmacognosy in 2002.
Dr Alysha Elliott is a Research Officer at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and has a background in molecular and structural biology. She completed her BAppSc (Biochemistry) at the Queensland University of Technology before relocating to the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland to complete her Honours year (First Class in Biochemistry). She has worked at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience as a research assistant for Professor Glenn King on spider toxins and antimicrobial peptides, before completing a PhD with Associate Professor Josh Mylne and Professor David Craik in the area of peptide based drug discovery from plants. Alysha is now part of the Cooper Group, where she is interested in the translation of research for antibacterial drug discovery.
Dr. Alejandra Gallardo-Godoy joined the Cooper Group in 2013 after more than a decade working and studying in the USA. Commencing her career as a PhD graduate at the University of Chile, she was soon awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to complete her degree at Purdue University in the USA. She continued post-doctoral studies at Purdue before venturing out to industry where she worked at Chemical Diversity Labs Inc. and Vertex Pharmaceuticals, as a member of the team that discovered the new Cystic Fibrosis drug KalydecoTM . With her experience working in industry, she returned to academia, joining the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF), as a Medicinal Chemist Specialist at the Small Molecule Discovery Center (SMDC). During her years as a medicinal chemist, she has predominantly focused on neurochemistry, GPCRs (Serotonin, Dopamine, Opioid, Muscarinic Receptors), neurodegenerative diseases like Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease among others. She has published 10 papers and 2 patents.
Dr Karl Hansford is a Senior Research Officer within the Cooper group, and has eleven years' experience in synthetic organic, peptidomimetic, process and medicinal chemistry. After several academic appointments (IMB/UQ, University of Pittsburgh, University of Montreal), Karl moved into industry, spending several years in Montreal (Mimetogen Pharmaceuticals) and Melbourne (Boron Molecular) before returning to the IMB. He holds eleven peer reviewed publications and is inventor on two patents.
Dr Avril Robertson completed her PhD at the University of St Andrews, Scotland in 1999. Since that time she has gained more than 10 years industrial experience in medicinal chemistry and library synthesis. Prior to moving from the UK to join CDDD she worked as project manager and medicinal chemist at Cyclacel Ltd working on small molecule drug discovery in the field of oncology, Thermo Fisher Scientific on heterocyclic custom synthesis and Tripos Discovery Research managing contract research projects involving file enrichment, hit/lead generation and optimisation.
Dr Zyta Ziora has 10 years of academic postdoctoral experience in medicinal chemistry of antimalarial therapeutics, antibacterial agents and enzyme inhibitors (drug candidates against Alzheimer disease, Kyoto Pharmaceutical University, Japan). During her stay at the University of Montpellier (France) she was actively involved in the design and synthesis of the the bis-thiazolium derivatives which are currently in development for treating severe malaria in human clinical trials. She has also been trained in enzymology, microbiology and heamatology and has expertise in spectroscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy.Her research time is currently dedicated mainly to projects devoted to the modification of existing antibiotics, and complexing them with additional antimicrobial agents, like metal ions, to produce more potent alternatives and by this to overcome the drug resistance of superbugs. She has over forty four publications in peer-reviewed journals and is an author of a book chapter, and she serves as a reviewer for several international journals.
Dr. Johannes Zuegg completed his PhD (Chemistry, Molecular Modelling) at the Technical University of Graz (Austria) and spent one year as a PostDoc at the University of Graz (Austria) doing protein crystallography. After migrating to Australia he was working on Molecular Dynamics simulations for 2.5 years at the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University (Canberra), before joining Alchemia Inc., a small Bio-Tech company in Brisbane, as Molecular Modeller in Drug Development for 2 years. After a one year interruption as Computer Research Specialists at Griffith University (Brisbane), he rejoined Alchemia Inc. as Head of IT and Molecular Modelling for another 5 years. He joined the IMB and the Cooper Group in May 2009 as a Senior Research Officer working across the different drug design and development projects.
CO-ADD Marketing and Outreach
Mathilde Desselle completed a double Masters degree in bioengineering and business at the Catholic University of Lille and a Masters of International Economics at the University of the Littoral Opal Coast in France. She has worked at the Pasteur Institute of Lille for four years as a marketing and sales manager for a genomics services platform, and has successfully launched a range of molecular typing kits for M. tuberculosis ssp on the international market.
After working as a business development manager for a CRO, she moved to Australia to join the Queensland Facility for Advanced Bioinformatics at the University of Queensland for two years as a Business Development and Marketing manager, where she coordinated the creation of bioinformatics and biostatistics clinics in research and clinical facilities, the creation of an Australia-wide network of technological partners, and launched several genomic data analysis innovations on the market.
Since 2015, Mathilde leads the CO-ADD marketing and outreach strategy and team in accessing compounds collections and setting up international partnerships.
Ruth Neale completed a Masters in Chemistry (MChem) and Honours degree in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry from the University of Edinburgh in 2011. Ruth has four years’ experience working in marketing and communications for professional and not-for profit scientific organisations in Australia and the UK. She has worked at the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK) for over two years as a science executive in the Life Sciences team. After moving to Australia over a year ago Ruth has led marketing campaigns, communications and media for the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, and since 2015 for CO-ADD at the Institute for Molecular Biosciences, at UQ.
Emma Cowie worked in a combination of biomedical science research and administrative fields at Griffith University and The University of Queensland, Australia. She gained her bachelor of biomedical science degree from the University of Queensland and provides administrative support to CO-ADD since 2015.
Maite Amado joined the CO-ADD team at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience as a Research Assistant in January 2016. She completed her Bachelor with Honours in Biology (Microbiology) at Buenos Aires University, Argentina. At this University's Virology laboratory she gained experience in molecular techniques, culturing and maintaining mammalian cell lines, and testing novel compounds for antivirus activity.
David Edwards is a Research Assistant with IMB. He has over 20 years experience of analytical chemistry working Pharmaceutical, Agrochemical and Flavour industries. Prior to his appointment at IMB he worked for 7 years with Pfizer UK within the structure elucidation group specialising in mass spectrometry, working with Prep LCMS, LCMSMS and ICPMS systems.
He gained his MSc. in Analytical Chemical Research at University College London comparing super critical fluid extraction with liquid/ liquid techniques of essential oils. These extracts were analysed by GC/MS.
Angela Kavanagh is a microbiologist from Universidad de Los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia). From 2006 to 2008, she was a Research Assistant at the Laboratory Microbial Ecology and Food at Universidad de Los Andes, researching in food pathogens and molecular biology. She then moved to the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, UQ as a Research Assistant in 2009 to work with Professor Rob Parton, testing caveosphere and siRNA or other small molecules to be incorporated into caveosphere. In 2011, she became a part of Matt’s Cooper Group, to work on immunological and microbiology techniques and is currently working on the antibiotic project.
Matthew Norris joined the Cooper Group as a Research Assistant in 2016. He has five years experience in advanced chemical synthesis, undertaking an honours degree then PhD with Michael Perkins at Flinders University. In 2014, Matthew received the Australian Fulbright (WG Walker) Scholarship to work with Erik Sorensen at the Department of Chemistry, Princeton University.
Ruby Pelingon is an Analytical Chemist/Research Assistant at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at The University of Queensland responsible for purifying a library of novel synthetic compounds. Prior to this, she has worked at Interphil Laboratories, Inc., Philippines as a Quality Assurance Laboratory Analyst responsible for Analytical Method Validation. She received her BS in Chemistry from Silliman University, Philippines.
Soumya Ramu is a Research Assistant at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at The University of Queensland since November 2009. Graduated in Advanced Masters of Biotechnology from The University of Queensland, she has gained knowledge in techniques in molecular biology along with culturing and maintaining mammalian cell lines. Soumya also has expertise in immunological and microbiology techniques and is currently working on the antibiotic project.
Janet Reid joined the CO-ADD project at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience as a Research Assistant in 2016. She completed a Bachelor of Science (Microbiology) at the University of Queensland and a Graduate Diploma in Biotechnology at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). She has expertise in molecular and cell biology recently completing a PhD at QUT and Mater Research investigating protease cascades, cell surface interactions and protease-activated receptor activation associated with prostate cancer.
Eduardo Albornoz joined the Cooper group as a PhD student in October 2014. Prior to this, he received his Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from Universidad Andres Bello in Santiago, Chile followed by a Masters in Biochemistry at the same University. Subsequently he worked as a research assistant in endocrinology and inflammation lab at the Millenium Institute on Immunology and Immunotherapy where he gained experience studying the relationship between thyroid hormones and neuroinflammatory diseases. His PhD focuses on the mechanism of action of novel drugs targeting the inflammasome in CNS diseases including Parkinson and Amiotrophic lateral sclerosis. Eduardo is a recipient of the UQ international scholarship awarded to outstanding international research higher degree students
Chee Wei Ang
Chee Wei Ang joined the Cooper group as a PhD student in April 2016. She received her Bachelor degree in Analytical Chemistry from Universiti Sains Malaysia. She then worked as a research officer at Institute for Research in Molecular Medicine, Malaysia where she gained experience in drug modification, bioconjugation and development of immunoassay. n 2015, she obtained her Master’s degree in Medicinal Chemistry at the same institution. Her MSc project worked on the synthesis and activity studies of new compounds against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Her current PhD work focuses on development of new antibiotics against various pathogenic species. She is a recipient of an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS).
Amy commenced her PhD studies with the Cooper Group at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience in January 2016. In 2014, she completed her honours year at the University of Queensland School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences investigating the effects of structural orientation and lipidation on vaccine immunogenicity. Upon completion, she was awarded Honours Class 1 in biochemistry. Her PhD research focuses on the activation of inflammasome pathways by various bacterial antigens. Amy is a recipient of the Australian Postgraduate Award.
Jessica Chitty joined the Cooper group and began her PhD in 2013. Prior to this Jessica graduated from the University of Sussex, UK with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biochemistry. She did an industry placement as part of her degree, spending 15 months working in R&D at Procter & Gamble. Her PhD research involves characterising enzymes of the for antifungal drug design. Jessica is a recipient of a Queensland medical research scholarship.
Ingrid Edwards joined the Cooper group at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience as a PhD student in October 2014. In 2008, she received her Master’s degree in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from the University of Lyon, France. She then spent three years working for Merck-Serono in Switzerland where she gained experience in analytical techniques used by the drug discovery. Subsequently, she worked for Australian government, UQ and Pharmasynth for three years where she then expanded her knowledge on the food industry and the protein world. Her PhD focuses on the structural approach of the mode of action of protein against Gram-negative bacteria membrane.
Marwa joined Cooper group at Institute for Molecular Biosciences in April 2014 as a PhD student. She is a pharmacist and was working as a teaching assistant in microbiology department, Misr University for Science and Technology, Egypt. Then, she received her master’s in Biotechnology at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. In her thesis, she successfully detected mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA using gold nanoparticles as a member of Novel Diagnostics & Therapeutics Research Group at AUC. Marwa is interested in nanotechnology, microbiology, molecular biology and diagnostics and is working in the diagnostic team to detect bacteria from clinical samples using nanotechnology approaches.
Angie commenced her PhD studies with the Cooper group at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience in 2012. Her PhD research is focused on developing novel antibiotics to fight anaerobic bacteria. Previously Angie completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Adelaide, graduating with a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours and a Diploma in Languages (Italian) in 2011. Angie is an Australian Postgraduate Award recipient.
Sanjaya joined Cooper group @ IMB as a PhD candidate in July 2013. He obtained his bachelor degree in Medical Laboratory Technology from Manipal University, India and his masters from Institute for Research in Molecular Medicine, Malaysia. Prior to joining the group, as a registered laboratory scientist in Nepal he worked in different divisions of medical laboratory and has research experience in development of diagnostic tool for Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) detection. In the group, he is working with the diagnostic team to develop novel nanoparticles based diagnostic method for detection of dengue from clinical samples.
Lalith joined as a PhD student with the Cooper group at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience in July 2014. In 2009, he obtained a Master’s degree in Medicinal chemistry at Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai, India. He then spent two and a half years as research associate at GVK Biosciences (GVK BIO), where he worked on protein modeling and rational drug design and reaction analysis from published journals and patents. Later, he joined as research associate Dr. Reddy’s Institute of Life Sciences (2011-2014) where he acquired experience in structure and ligand- based drug design tools in molecular modeling field. His current PhD research is design and synthesis of compounds against fungal infections in immunocompromised individuals like patients with AIDS.
Wanida commenced her PhD studies with the Cooper group at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience in April 2013. She received a Master’s degree in organic chemistry from Mahidol University. Her MSc thesis focused on modification of antibiotic derivatives and evaluation for antimicrobial activities against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), where she gained experience in both chemistry and microbiology. Her PhD focuses on the modification of antibiotics and fluorescence microscopy as tools for understanding mode of action.
Miranda Pitt commenced her PhD studies with the Cooper Group at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience in April 2014. In 2013, she completed her honours year at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute investigating differential gene expression in an Ankylosing spondylitis mouse model. Upon finishing honours, she graduated with a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and was awarded Honours Class I at the University of Queensland. Her PhD project delves into understanding the mode of action of last resort antibiotics against multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria and the genetic basis underpinning resistance. Miranda is a recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award.
Manohar Salla joined Cooper group, Institute for Molecular Bioscience at The University of Queensland as a PhD student in July 2014. Prior to this, he received his Master's degree in Organic chemistry from Kakatiya University, India. After his master's degree he worked in several medicinal chemistry departments of various organizations in India and Singapore. Most recently he worked as a research scientist for AMRI Singapore research center pte Ltd, Singapore. His PhD work mainly focuess on NLRP3 inhibitors for treatment of CNS diseases.
Anggia Prasetyoputri joined the Cooper group at the Institute for Molecular Biosciences as a PhD student in July 2015. Anggia is a research scientist at the Research Centre for Biotechnology, Indonesian Institute of Sciences. Her research experience is mainly on molecular biology, but she is also trained in microbiology and has worked on a number of projects involving the design and expression of recombinant proteins. She completed an MSc (by Research) degree from The University of Melbourne where she gained experience and skills in organic chemistry and immunology. Her PhD research focuses on understanding the mode of action of novel antibiotics for anaerobic bacteria. Anggia is a recipient of Australia Awards Scholarship.
Alexander Booy joined the Cooper group as an undergraduate during semester one of 2015. Alex completed his undergraduate studies with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Chemistry at the end of 2015. During his undergraduate experience Alex undertook a number of undergraduate research projects. These included two separate projects at the AIBN, involving the synthesis of nanoparticles, and a project at the IMB which involved the synthesis of 1-methyl-5-nitro-imidazole compounds. Alex commenced Honours in semester one, 2016 under the supervision of Prof Matt Cooper and Dr Karl Hansford and will be working on the hit validation of novel antimicrobials for the CO-ADD initiative.
James completed his B.Com (Corporate Finance) at the University of Western Australia in 2011. In 2013 he decided to return to study, completing his B.Sc (Chemistry) at UQ in 2015. James was involved with the groups anti-fungal and NLRP3 projects as an undergraduate, before commencing his honours in July 2015. His honours project focuses on the synthesis of a photoaffinity probe and NLRP3 inhibitors specific for type 2 diabetes.
Nicholas Massey joined the Cooper group as an undergraduate volunteer in January 2015. Nicholas completed his undergraduate studies with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Chemistry at the end of 2015. The majority of his undergraduate experience was focused on synthetic and analytical chemistry but was also expanded to include some biochemistry techniques. Nicholas’ work as a volunteer entailed the synthesis and purification of small, drug-like molecules for use in a variety of group projects. He commenced Honours in semester 1, 2016 under the supervision of Prof Matt Cooper and Dr Avril Robertson and will be researching new antifungal therapeutics.
Karlee Rees completed her undergraduate studies with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Chemistry in 2015 with a focus on synthetic organic chemistry. During the course of her studies she completed two summer research projects at the Cooper group, working on small molecule synthesis for anti-TB drugs and later natural product isolation of MRSA active compounds. Karlee commenced Honours in semester 1, 2016 under the supervision of Matt Cooper and Karl Hansford and will be working on hit validation of novel antimicrobials.
Julia Sassi is an undergraduate student in the class of 2018 at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ, USA. There she is concentrating in molecular biology with a certificate in neuroscience. This winter, Julia is working at the Cooper Group under the supervision of Dr Karl Hansford, synthesizing molecules for use in antibiotics against Gram-negative bacterial infections.
Lindsay Temple is an undergraduate student at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ, USA. She is pursuing a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and plans to apply to medical school in the future. At the Cooper Group, Lindsay is working under the supervision of Dr. Avril Robertson to synthesize molecules for use against the pathogenic fungi Cryptococcus Neoformans. .