NHMRC Principal Research Fellow
Professor, Institute for Molecular Bioscience
Professor, School of Chemistry & Molecular Bioscience
Professor Matthew Cooper is CEO of Inflazome Ltd. and has an equity interest in the company of which UQ is also a shareholder through its commercialisation company UniQuest Pty. Ltd. Inflazome Ltd. is a company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland that is developing drugs to address clinical unmet needs in inflammatory disease by targeting the inflammasome. Professor Cooper also holds a fractional Professorial Research Fellow appointment at the Universitv y of Queensland. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by the University of Queensland, in accordance with its conflict of interest policies.
Matt 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
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 Professor Cooper and the Cooper Group.
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 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.
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.
Ali joined the Cooper Group in the Institute of Molecular Bioscience as a Research Assistant in 2016. Prior to this she was working in diagnostic pathology (microbial serology) after graduating with a Bachelor of Science (microbiology) from the University of Queensland in 2014.
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.
Gabrielle Lowe joined the CO-ADD project in the Institute of Molecular Bioscience as a Research Assistant in 2016. Prior to this she was working as a Research Assistant at James Cook University for over 4 years as part of their microalgae project. In 2010 Gabrielle graduated from the University of Wellington with a Bachelor of Science, and is currently working towards her Masters in Medical Science through Charles Sturt University and plans to graduate in 2018.
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.
Robin Trauer is a research assistant at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience. He graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the Dresden University of Technology which is part of the German Universities Excellence Initiative. After that he moved to Australia to work as an IT professional in the field of GPS tracking with the School of Agriculture and Food Science on Gatton Campus of The University of Queensland before joining the Cooper Group as an Information Systems Administrator in September 2016.
CO-ADD Marketing and Outreach
RRuth Neale completed a Masters in Chemistry (MChem) and Honours degree in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry from the University of Edinburgh in 2011. She has five years’ experience working in science communication, innovation and policy for professional and not-for profit scientific organisations in Australia and the UK. In the UK, she worked at the Royal Society of Chemistry in the Life Sciences team and ran their health campaign and outreach programme focused on antimicrobial resistance (AMR). After moving to Australia, Ruth has led marketing campaigns, communications and media at The University of Queensland (UQ), and since 2015 for CO-ADD at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience. Ruth’s experience is further enhanced by volunteer leadership roles, including President for the South-East Queensland Australian Science Communicators (ASC) committee since May 2014.
Since December 2016, Ruth has been the program coordinator - marketing and outreach for CO-ADD, leading the strategy and team in accessing compound collections and setting up international partnerships.
Emma is a Marketing and Communications professional, with a background in research and science communication. She completed a Bachelor of Science and Honours degree (First Class) at The University of Queensland (UQ) under the supervision of Professor Craig Franklin. Emma then worked as a research assistant for the Franklin Eco-Lab and completed a Graduate Diploma in Science Communication at UQ. Emma has extensive experience in marketing and science communication, previously working for the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) and the UQ Centre For Clinical Research (UQCCR). Since 2017, Emma has worked for the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery (CO-ADD) at the UQ Institute of Molecular Biosciences in the Marketing and Outreach Team.
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.
James commenced his PhD in Q3 2016 under the supervision of Avril Robertson and Matt Cooper, investigating the medicinal chemistry of NLRP3 inhibitors pertaining to Parkinson’s disease. Prior to this, James attained a B.Sc (Hons, 1st Class) at UQ for his work on type 2 diabetes NLRP3 inhibitors.
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.
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 UQ 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 research oriented pharmaceutical companies in India and Singapore. Most recently he worked as a research scientist at AMRI Singapore research center pte Ltd, Singapore. His PhD work mainly focuses on synthesis and biological activity of sulfonylureas as NLRP3 inhibitors. Manohar Salla is a recipient of UQ international scholarship.
Rhia Stone joined the Cooper group and began her PhD in September 2016. Previously, Rhia completed a BSc in Chemistry and Cell & Molecular Bioscience in 2013 and a MSc (First Class Honours) in Chemistry in 2016, both from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Her Masters research involved synthesis of modified glycolipid immunomodulators with the aim of better understanding the adjuvant and anti-cancer activities of these compounds. Between finishing her Masters and starting her PhD, Rhia worked as a Research Assistant at the Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health at Victoria University of Wellington. Rhia is a recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award.
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.
Rachel graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Queensland in 2015, studying a dual major in Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Rachel intends to use her knowledge of organic chemistry along with biochemistry and microbiology to research novel and potent antimicrobials that are active against superbugs as part of her Honours degree. She is currently supervised by Avril Robertson and Mark Butler and is thoroughly enjoying working in the Cooper Group!
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.
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