Synthetic biology and drug discovery

Student project opportunities

Using synthetic biology to create new therapeutics

Research area:  Synthetic biology
Chief supervisor: Professor Oliver Rackham
Project suitable for:  Honours,  Masters and PhD
Essential qualifications: BSc in Biochemistry, Genetics, Microbiology or similar.
Start date: flexible       

Project outline

The rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, resistance to cancer chemotherapy and the many orphan genetic diseases without any current therapies are creating an increasing burden on our health system and a tragic personal cost to society. Current approaches to discover new medicines, such as high throughput screening of synthetic and natural product libraries, are proving to be increasing ineffective and there is a pressing need for new approaches to discover the next generation of therapeutics. The burgeoning new field of synthetic biology focuses on programming molecules and cells with new and improved functions – using them like Lego blocks. Our team works to harness the tremendous potential of synthetic biology to create new therapeutics for diseases that are resistant to current drugs and for orphan diseases.

Synthetic biology

Current projects include:

 (1) Building designer RNA-binding proteins as protein-based gene therapies;
 (2) Hijacking cells to developing new antibiotics to address the rise of "superbugs";
 (3) Manipulating cellular gene expression to better understand how it can become defective   in cancer and to provide new therapeutic approaches.




Professor Oliver Rackham -

Representative publications
Coquille S, Filipovska A, Chia T, Rajappa L, Lingford JP, Razif MF, Thore S, Rackham O. (2014) Nature Communications 5:5729.
Filipovska A, Razif MF, Nygård KK, Rackham O. (2011) Nature Chemical Biology 7(7): 425-427.


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