Our projects

Our projects

The BDRC provides a structured and synergistic environment for biomolecular research at Macquarie University, harnessing research and funding opportunities across multiple priorities of the MQ Research Framework:

· Future Shaping Priority 1 - Health (Translational medical research);

· Future Shaping Priority 4 - Secure Planet (Living in a changing environment);

· Future Shaping Priority 5 – Innovative Technologies (Science and engineering technologies for the 21st century; Big Data: Acquisition, analysis, application and assurance).

The key focus areas of the Centre align with five of the Australian Governments nine Science and Research Priorities:

1. Food (agricultural biotechnology)

2. Soil and Water (agricultural production, bacterial contamination)

3. Energy (biofuels and enzymes)

4. Advanced Manufacturing (synthetic biology, nanotechnology)

5. Health (cancer research, diagnostics and therapeutics)

Members of the BDRC are in collaborative research across the University and with industry partners in the following areas:

Proteomics, Genomics, Glycomics and Transcriptomics

The ‘omics technologies offer the potential to discover new genes, proteins, sugars and metabolites, that have potential to be further utilised by synthetic biology, to target disease and nutrition. Molecular targets are also being identified to improve resistance to crop diseases and as biosensors for both medical and agricultural applications.

Researchers: Nicki Packer, Paul Haynes, Ian Paulsen, Sasha Tetu, Morten Andersen


Research projects contribute to the development of new technologies for the production of industrially and medically important gene products. We use molecular tools for high level gene expression and knockout studies, and create and analyse genomic and proteomic data to understand cell metabolism and protein secretion. We make recombinant enzymes for industrial uses and develop synthetic biology methods for microbial strain improvement.

Research focusing on the application of biotechnological relevant proteins includes immobilisation of industrial enzymes and proteins to different inorganic solid matrices, and development of cell-free biocatalytic modules for biotechnology and enzyme-based processes.

Researchers: Anwar Sunna

Protein Structure, Modifications and Expression

Proteins are the main functional components of life, with functions including storage of nitrogen, structural rigidity, transport, signaling, binding, and enzymatic catalysis.

Researchers: Nicki Packer

Biomarker Discovery

We are interested in discovering protein biomarkers relevant to cancer progression, patient response to treatment and in understanding how cell signaling networks are altered in cancers. Several studies have also clearly established glycosylation changes associated in cancer. Identification of relevant glycosylation changes in proteins could facilitate novel glycan-based biomarkers for diagnostic and prognostic purposes.

Researchers: Nicki Packer, Morten Andersen, Paul Haynes

Microbial Physiology and Pathogenicity

Our research includes understanding microbial physiology and evolution using approaches such as genome sequencing, metagenomics and systems biology. We examine how microorganisms contribute to health and disease in hosts, and the vital ecosystem services that microbes provide.

Researchers: Ian Paulsen, Nicki Packer, Sasha Tetu

Synthetic Biology and Gene Transfer Systems

Synthetic biology represents the next transformative phase of the biological sciences and is made possible by developments in many fields that contribute to synthetic biology — including genome sequencing, computing, nanotechnology and significant improvements to various laboratory techniques. Systems biology, inspired by the scientific advances in molecular biology (1970-80s) and, foundationally, by microbiology, biochemistry and genetics (1950-60’s) is the next era of advancement in the biological sciences and is ripe with opportunities.

Researchers: Ian Paulsen, Anwar Sunna, Sasha Tetu

Affiliated Centres

Centre for Nanoscale Biophotonics

The research at the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics uses the power of light to measure, seeking to understand the complex molecular processes that underpin the living body, as well as other dynamic biological systems.

Approaches and technologies of the CNBP encompass Discoveryof chemical, nanomaterial and fibre based light responsive toolsthat Sense and that can also Image.

Bringing these three core capability areas together, CNBP is driving the development of innovative new molecular sensing tools that have broad application across the biosciences, medical, agriculture, food and manufacturing sectors.

ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology

The ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology (CoESB) provides the technical innovation critical for Australia to develop a vibrant bioeconomy building on the nation’s strengths in agriculture. For thousands of years we have used microbes to create bread, wine, cheese. Now, the CoESB pioneers new approaches to the design of synthetic microbes, enabling the development of custom-designed microbial communities, synthetic organelles and new to nature biological pathways and enzymes. CoESB will combine engineering with molecular biology to design and construct novel biological systems that can convert biomass from agriculture or waste streams to biofuel, bioplastics and other high-value chemicals.

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