My major research programs that are relevant to Medical Engineering are:
Mechanisms of activity, resistance, nephrotoxicity and neurotoxicity of polymyxins using systems biology and correlative microscopy;
Discovery of novel antimicrobials against pan-resistant pathogens;
Novel combinations of antimicrobials with antibacterial, anti-pathogenic and anti-biofilm effects; and
Systems pharmacology of antimicrobials and virtual cells.
Systems Biology is identified by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) / National Institutes of Health (USA) as the first of 7 strategic approaches for antimicrobial resistance research and drug discovery in 2014. I am collaborating with Dr Jing Fu (correlative microscopy, NHMRC/NIH projects), A/Prof Wenlong Chen (nanotechnology), A/Prof Andreas Fouras (dynamic lung imaging, NHMRC project) from the Faculty of Engineering, and Prof Falk Schreiber and Prof Geoff Webb from the Faculty of IT on systems pharmacology (e.g. virtual cells and data mining). My research targets an urgent global medical challenge, antibiotic resistance and lack of new antibiotics against Gram-negative 'superbugs'.
I have an internationally leading track record in polymyxin pharmacology and discovery of new antibiotics against Gram-negative 'superbugs'. The majority of modern polymyxin pharmacology data were reported by our group over the last decade. I have 142 publications with 3,491 citations and an h-index of 30. A highlight is that my research is very well supported by funding from a number of granting bodies. Since 2004 I have been awarded 35 grants by the NIH (US$19.2 M for 5 R01 projects, 3 of which are administered through Monash University), NHMRC (~$5.4 M), and other grant bodies. A highlight is that I have been awarded three large 5-year NIH R01 projects since 2012 on discovery of new antibiotics and re-development of polymyxins against Gram-negative 'superbugs' (US$13.5 M; PD/PI [i.e. CIA]). The two R01 awarded in 2012 and 2014 were highlighted by President Obama at the meeting with Prime Minister Abbott on 12 June 2014, as one of the 6 examples of U.S. - Australia innovation and science cooperation. In addition, I was a Co-Investigator of another two NIH R01 grants on polymyxins that were awarded in 2007 and 2008; both NIH R01 grants were cited by an NIAID official in the 51st ICAAC (2009) Meet-the-Experts session as a successful example of how NIH supports global research targeting antimicrobial resistance. NIH funds are extremely competitive and the multiple R01 awards to an Australian institution are a great accomplishment.