A/Professor Sheena McGowan

EXPERTISE

  • Microbiology
  • Structural biology
  • Novel methods for microbial disease control

Bridging the gap between fundamental microbiology and drug discovery requires a complete understanding of how a new drug target works, both at an atomic level as well as its role in the microorganism. Sheena’s laboratory focuses on therapeutically important microbial proteins and aims to characterise how these proteins function on an atomic level. Sheena is interested in whether interruption of this function has therapeutic potential and then uses structural information to discover lead molecules and guide drug development. The lab is primarily a structural biology laboratory using techniques in X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, biochemistry and biophysics to analyse our proteins of interest. Her group uses mechanistic information to design inhibitors or analogues with potential applications in human medicine. Her laboratory has close connections with many Monash BDI laboratories, as well as the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Parkville). Most recently, Sheena has worked closely with Dena Lyras to discover that Cephamycins inhibit pathogen sporulation and can effectively treat recurrent Clostridioides difficile infection, that affects people treated with antibiotics.

A/Professor  McGowan leads the Structural Microbiology group and is Director Industry Engagement at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. She is formally trained in microbiology, completing her PhD in 2004. During her post-doctoral work she was trained in protein crystallography and biophysics and she now integrates  skills in microbiology and structural biology to investigate novel methods for microbial disease control. Sheena was awarded the Deans Award for Excellence in Research (Early Career) 2009.  In 2011, she was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship to establish her own research group at Monash. She has published in top ranking journals and has been supported NHMRC, ARC and Industry funding.

AMR FOCUS 

  • A new drug class: aminopeptidase inhibitors as antivirulence factors for infectious disease.
  • Harnessing the antibacterial power of phage: characterisation and engineering of phage endolysins.

IMPACT

  • Drug discovery and new targets.
  • Phage therapy – a viable therapy for urinary tract infections, pneumonia, bloodstream infections and inflammatory bowel disease.