Professor Jian Li


  • Drug Discovery
  • Systems Pharmacology
  • Optimise antimicrobial use
  • Develop new-generation polymyxins
  • Novel phage therapy against Gram-negative ‘superbugs’

Jian develops cutting-edge approaches aimed at treating infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacterial ‘superbugs’. Antibiotics have saved millions of lives over the last century worldwide. Unfortunately, antibiotic resistance presents a significant global medical challenge. His research aims to (1) optimise antimicrobial use in patients, in particular polymyxins and their combinations using pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and toxicodynamics (PK/PD/TD); (2) elucidate the mechanisms of antibacterial activity, resistance and toxicity using systems pharmacology and computational biology approaches; and (3) develop new-generation polymyxins and novel phage therapy against Gram-negative ‘superbugs’.

Professor Jian Li (PhD 2002) is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and Head of the Antimicrobial Systems Pharmacology Laboratory at Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. He is a Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher (2015 - 2017, 2022) with an internationally recognised record in polymyxin pharmacology and discovery of novel, safer polymyxins. Professor Li is an Editor of three international journals and is an invited reviewer for another 190. His research is funded by the NIH, NHMRC, ARC, pharmaceutical industry and other funders. Professor Li has received numerous awards, including the Australian Leadership Award (2013), NHMRC Ten of the Best Research Projects (2014), the Australian Academy of Science Jacques Miller Medal (2017) and the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research Engagement and Impact (2022).


  • Clinical use of novel antimicrobial therapeutics & their combinations using PK/PD/TD & systems pharmacology.
  • Mechanisms of antibacterial activity, resistance, & toxicity of polymyxins using a multi-disciplinary approach.
  • New-generation polymyxins, novel formulations, & phage therapy against multidrug-resistant P. aeruginosa, A. baumannii & K. pneumoniae.
  • Integrating AI, big data & smart drug design against ‘superbugs’.
  • Innovative therapies against pandrug-resistant Gram-negative 'superbugs'.
  • Virtual bacteria using systems pharmacology & computational biology.


  • Systems approach to combat antibiotic resistance: Novel therapeutic strategies, mechanistic discoveries, and drug/phage development.
  • Improvement of clinical practice.


  • Chair: Research & Funding Strategy Working Group 2020