Research in the Molecular Medicine Group is currently focused in three themes:
* Cancer Biology
* Infectious Diseases
* Neural/Sensory Biology
These themes are underpinned by cutting-edge human pluripotent stem cell and regenerative medicine expertise (through Dr Michael O'Connor) that provides access to normal and diseased human cell types for more relevant investigations.
The Cancer Biology theme is focused on common cancers that affect our community: colorectal, breast, prostate, head & neck, and skin cancers. The group studies the molecular mechanisms and cellular processes in the development and progression of these cancers. A major strength of the group is its translational research through extensive collaborations with cancer clinicians and pathologists from the teaching hospitals of UWS medical school. The principal investigators within the group also have extensive collaborative networks such as the Centenary, Garvan and Millennium institutes, Universities of Sydney and Queensland, University of Glasgow, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Singapore General Hospital and National University of Singapore.
Research in the Infectious Diseases theme involves investigating the epidemiology of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in both the community and hospital environment, the contribution of bacterial biofilms and hand-washing efficacy to healthcare-associated infections, and the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in bacteria (Prof Iain Gosbell). This includes understanding the molecular mechanisms that contribute to the capacity of staphylococcal plasmids to acquire and maintain antimicrobial resistance genes in the absence of selective pressure (A/Prof Slade Jensen). Additional research involves the use of genomics as a tool for understanding how MRSA, vancomycin resistant enterococci and Klebsiella pneumoniae evolve in the hospital environment, particularly with respect to mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and increased virulence (A/Prof Slade Jensen).
The Neural/Sensory Biology research theme concentrates on using a diverse range of techniques and models to address the key questions relating to neural and vision disorders. A particular focus of research centres on why house-keeping like proteins, when mutated, cause sensory neuro-degeneration. This involves the identification of common molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in sensory neuropathies (Dr Simon Myers). Another key neurobiology research area is to identify novel drugs to inhibit, delay or treat Alzheimer's (Prof Gerald Muench) and schizophrenia (A/Prof Tim Karl). Other research is focussed on investigating the molecular cause of macular degeneration and cataract (Dr Michael O'Connor). Identifying drug targets and cell and molecular mechanisms are key elements for making significant breakthroughs in neurodegenerative and blinding diseases.