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Join Cryle lab

Current projects | Student research projects

Welcome to our lab! We are a diverse international team of researchers with a common goal – to help overcome the global problem of antibiotic resistance. To do this, we harness a range of interdisciplinary research tools and methodologies at the boundary of chemistry and biology to understand how some of our most important antibiotics are naturally produced. Antibiotics – with a very few exceptions – are naturally produced compounds and their complex structures often means we still use bacteria to produce them. This means that if we understand the biological assembly lines that make these antibiotics, we can then redesign, and reengineer these machineries to produce new and more effective antibiotics. Beyond this, we also are exploring ways to overcome resistant bacteria using approaches that help our immune system to tackle these infections more effectively. Because we rely on many different techniques and tools for our work, we are a highly collaborative group of researchers – and a great place to learn these whilst tackling one of the greatest challenges we face in modern medicine.

Whether you want to research, invest, donate or partner with us to accelerate our life-changing discoveries, we'd be delighted to hear from you. We have opportunities for PhD students, post docs and senior researchers to join our lab. Feel free to contact Associate Professor Max Cryle with any queries.

Clinical partners

We work closely with the group of Professor Anton Peleg, who is the Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at The Alfred Hospital. As a clinician, he has unique access to multi-drug resistant bacteria that have evolved resistance during antibiotic treatment – these strains are central to our efforts to develop new antibiotics to be able to treat such infections in the future. We also work with the group of Professor Daniel Irimia at the Harvard Medical School, to exploit the range of microfluidic devices that he and his team have developed to allow the behaviour of single immune cells interacting with bacteria to be studied. The information we obtain from these experiments allows us to assess how the new antibiotic agents we are developing also interact with the human immune response, and in this way we can develop agents that not only attack the bacteria but also help our immune system to respond effectively to infection.

Creating new Antibiotics by better understanding Non-Ribosomal Biosynthesis - Associate Professor Max Cryle

Many of our most important antibiotics are peptides that are made by a fascinating molecular assembly line known as a non-ribosomal peptide synthetase. Here, I explain how these modular machines work - using DUPLO!

Disarming the Superbugs - Dr Jennifer Payne

Superbugs like MRSA are not only resistant to antibiotics but also talented at hiding from our immune system. What if we design antibiotics that help our immune system fight back against superbugs?

Fellowships lead to collaborations and amazing science - Dr Jennifer Payne

A Victoria Fellowship from VESKI and the Hugh Rogers Fellowship from the Melbourne-Boston Sister City Association allowed Jennifer to work in the lab of Daniel Irimia, PhD, MD learning cutting edge techniques from Alex Hopke PhD and Felix Ellett PhD.

Drugs in dirt – Dr Jennifer Payne

The next drug to kill a superbug might be in your backyard.

Unravelling the complicated antibiotic machinery in bacteria using Structural biology - Dr Thierry Izore

Non-Ribosomal Peptide Synthesis (NRPS) is a key component in the antibiotic reengineering process that will lead to the development of new antibiotics.

Identifying new domains in NRPS biology and studying existing one is important to understand their role and their interaction, leading to the production of the desired peptides.

This project is partly supported by the CASS foundation and aims at unravelling the structure of a full length NRPS machinery.

Peptides: The new antibacterial therapeutics - Dr Julian Tailhades

Our particular focus is on strategies to overcome the loss of efficacy of glycopeptide antibiotics, such as Nancomycin, against serious bacterial infections. Our approach is to use a combination of chemistry and the naturally occurring bacterial biosynthetic pathways that produce antibiotics, to create new antibiotics to target Superbugs.

Vancomycin: not just any peptide – Dr Anja Greule

Studying the intramolecular crosslinks of vancomycin-type antibiotics to finally build that antibiotic in a tube - and further steps beyond.

Selected funding groups

  • EMBL Australia Group Funding, EMBL Australia/Monash University 2016-2021
  • Emmy-Noether Program Funding, German Research Organisation 2011-2016
  • Human Frontiers Science Program, Cross Disciplinary Fellowship 2008-2011

2019-2021 - Australian Research Council, Discovery Project DP190101272: Biosynthetic LEGO: enzymatic redesign to produce new vancomycin analogues, CIA; $480,000, 3 yrs.

2017-2019 - Australian Research Council, Discovery Project DP170102220: Development of a bio-enabled synthesis for the Glycopeptide Antibiotics, CIA; $431,000, 3 yrs.

2017 -Australian Research Council, LIEF grant LE170100016: A collaborative electron microscopy pipeline for structural biology, CI; $850,000, 1 yr.

2018-2021 - National Health and Medical Research Council, Career Development Fellowship Level 2 APP1140619: Improving on nature: diversifying glycopeptide antibiotics to kill the bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, CIA; $476,728, 4 yrs.

2017-2018 - Universities Australia - DAAD  2016 Australia - Germany Joint Research Co-operation Scheme: Characterisation of novel glycopeptide antibiotic biosyntheses pathways, German partner Evi Stegmann (Tübingen); $23,000, 2 yrs.