Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology

Cancer cells

The Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology cluster focuses on delineating the molecular mechanisms and describing cellular phenomena that underpin all forms of life, and using that knowledge to realise economic, therapeutic and technological outcomes.

Through our undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology seeks to educate students at the interface between the physical sciences, such as chemistry and physics, and the big-picture life sciences such as agriculture, ecology, medicine and veterinary sciences.

Areas of active research in the cluster encompass human, plant and agricultural biochemistry; the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying human diseases such as cancer, diabetes and neurological disorders; molecular biotechnology; and metabolism and human nutrition. Core capabilities include functional genomics, mass spectrometry, live cell imaging, structural biology, biophysics and model organisms such as the mouse, the roundworm C. elegans, fruit flies and Arabidopsis.

Research themes

Molecular basis of human disease

We aim to determine the genes and environmental factors that cause or are associated with important human diseases such as neurological disorders, diabetes and cancer.

Regulation of eukaryotic gene expression

We seek to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the ability of an organism to switch genes on and off in a specific manner in different tissues and at different stages of development. We use a broad gamut of model organisms, ranging from plants (Arabidopsis) and nematodes (C. elegans) through to insects (Drosophila) and rodents (mouse).


Our cluster has a significant profile in translating biochemical knowledge into commercial outcomes. Our research labs have pioneered products such as protein microarrays for cancer diagnosis and synthetic human elastin, which have been commercialised through the formation of startup companies. We have particularly strong infrastructure in the areas of proteomics, structural biology and biophysics.

Macromolecular structure and function

The three dimensional structures of proteins and other macromolecules – and the interactions between these molecules – underpin all of biology. Our cluster has established expertise and infrastructure in this area, and also has a long tradition of providing collaborative support to biologists across the country to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying macromolecular function.

Plant Molecular Biology

Life on Earth depends on the energy, oxygen and raw materials provided by plants. We investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying both plant architecture as well as how plants photosynthesise, which will contribute to solving the food and energy challenges of our world. The knowledge collected from our research will drive improved crop yields through transformational research that extends beyond natural photosynthetic organisms and systems.