Monash BDI biological chemistry contribution to new ARC Centre of Excellence

Associate Professor Max Cryle, Victorian lead for the new Centre of Excellence for Innovations in Peptide and Protein Science.
Associate Professor Max Cryle, Victorian lead for the new Centre of Excellence for Innovations in Peptide and Protein Science.

Australian research exploring the main functional molecules of life – peptides and proteins – has received a major boost in support with the announcement of a new $35 million research centre. The Federal Minister for Education, the Hon. Dan Tehan MP, announced the establishment of a new Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Innovations in Peptide and Protein Science (CIPPS) on Friday 25 October.

Led by Professor David Craik from the University of Queensland, CIPPS will integrate a team of world-leading researchers into a cohesive, multidisciplinary program that will strengthen Australia’s international profile at the forefront of peptide and protein research.

Associate Professor Max Cryle, from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI), will lead the Victorian node of the new centre and is one of the 14 Chief Investigators that make up the core group of scientists within the centre. In addition to the Chief Investigators, there are eight Partner Investigators and 51 Associate Investigators, including Monash BDI’s Dr Sheena McGowan and Associate Professor Martin Stone.

In his role as Victorian node lead, Associate Professor Cryle will work closely with Professor Greg Challis on research into complex peptide natural products, which could have significant medical and commercial value. Professor Challis’ position as the Monash Warwick Alliance Professor of Sustainable Chemistry puts him in the ideal position to lead international connections for CIPPS.

Led by Associate Professor Cryle, the Monash team will identify and characterise novel peptides from microbes along with the biosynthetic pathways that produce them. They will explore the discovery of new peptides, and apply new pathway activation and engineering techniques pioneered by Professor Challis.

“Peptides and proteins are all around us – they play vital roles in all aspects of our lives and yet we often don’t even notice them,” Associate Professor Cryle said.

“CIPPS comes at a perfect time to take advantage of the expertise of a group of highly talented, multi-disciplinary researchers across Australia and around the world. We’re at a point when we now have access to tool and techniques that are unprecedented in their power to drive major advances into peptide and proteins across research, industry and medicine,” he said.

“At the heart of the centre is a program to foster the next generation of Australian researchers across multiple disciplines, techniques, and universities, which is something I am personally very excited about leading.”

Associate Professor Cryle will also coordinate training and mentoring activities within CIPPS, using his experience in several organisational roles and in developing training platforms within EMBL Australia.

CIPPS will conduct innovative and transformational research that will build a critical understanding of the functional molecules of life to unleash their enormous potential for human benefit. Together, the team of multidisciplinary scientists will design and engineer peptides and proteins for specific targets and functions, delivery to cells, and translation into new commercial products for specific biotechnology, agriculture, food, animal health and pharmaceutical industries.

CIPPS aims to achieve this by discovering new classes of peptides and proteins; decoding the sequences, structures and properties of peptides and proteins that confer important biological functions and develop new technologies to build and customise peptides and proteins, and deplore them for application across a variety of sectors including medicine.

With the Victorian node of the centre being led out of the Monash BDI, this paves the way for innovative new collaborations across the university, including close collaboration with Monash’s state-of-the-art research platforms such as cryo-EM and protein crystallography.

Professor John Carroll, Director of the Monash BDI, believes CIPPS will provide exemplary research outcomes to further peptide and protein science in Australia.

“It is a fantastic outcome to have the Victorian node of CIPPS being led out of the Monash BDI, under Max’s leadership. His outstanding work on peptides over the years has proven his position as a world-leader in the field, and I am excited to see what comes out of this prestigious new Centre of Excellence,” Professor Carroll said.

About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.