About Dr W Bret Church

My research is about bringing systematic methodologies to drug discovery based on the principles of a protein target’s structure and ligand binding, with specific projects in the area of Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Inflammation and Psychoses such as in schizophrenia.

Dr Church is interested in proteins and particularly in how the three-dimensional structure of proteins confers their function. This extends to fields as crystallography, small angle scattering, structural bioinformatics, and the use of molecular biology to express proteins for their study including their crystallization. Importantly this is all out together with implications for the design and of novel drugs, or improvements in lead compounds.

Dr Church is widely known in the fields of protein structure and protein structure prediction and has made important contributions in recent years. He has made major contributions to structural biology, having studied and crystallised many proteins, performing both neutron and X-ray single crystal diffraction techniques in home, synchrotron and reactor facilities. In his postdoctoral experience he sent experiments into space. He spent 3 years in industry (Biosym Technologies, CA, USA, 1992-1995), and it was while there he was an inaugural contributing homology modeller to the successful CASP Meeting (Critical Assessment of Protein Structure Prediction) which have provided a platform to benchmark protein structure prediction methods. His approach and that of Biosym, was more successful than MODELLER, a program which subsequently has had much acclaim. He has developed a modelling methodology for analysing and predicting the 2D and 3D structural features of integral membrane proteins and more recently, software for visualisation and annotation of alternative splice variants. His work appears in significant journals such as Proteins, Journal of Molecular Biology and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. He helped establish the structural biology and modelling facilities at the Garvan Institute/Victor Chang (1998-2000), and made significant contributions to several projects within these Institutes, resulting in important perspectives on the function of key proteins, most notably G-protein coupled receptors. He then helped establish the Molecular Biotechnology Program as Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney (2001-4). He now is Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy, and is in a Group in Biomolecular Structure and Informatics.

Most recently, Dr Church has spoken in locations as China, Hong Kong and Iran but has presented at a number of conferences and locations around the world. He has been active in the Sydney Protein Group, the Biomolecular Division of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and the Association of Molecular Modellers of Australasia, and has organised numerous meetings which have brought prominent contributors to the field to Sydney and Australia. In 2003 he received the Selby Award at Sydney University for a beginning academic, and early on was awarded an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Fellowship to post-doc at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

Selected publications

Emma M. Rath, Anthony P. Duff, Anders P. Hakansson, Robert B. Knott, W. Bret Church (2014) Small-angle X-ray scattering of BAMLET at pH 12, a complex of α-lactalbumin and oleic acid, PROTEINS: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics, 82, 1400-1408 doi: 10.1002/prot.24508 abstract at pubmed.

Tim Werner and W. Bret Church (2013), Kink characterization and modeling in transmembrane protein structures, Journal of Chemical and Information Modeling, 53, 2926-2936 doi: 10.1021/ci400236s abstract at pubmed.


Fady N. Akladios, Naveed A. Nadvi, Joohong Park, Jane R. Hanrahan, Vimal Kapoor, Mark D. Gorrell, W. Bret Church (2012). Design and synthesis of novel inhibitors of human kynurenine aminotransferase-I, Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 22, 1579-1581 doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2011.12.138 abstract at pubmed.

Maryam Hamzeh-Mivehroud, Michael B. Morris, W. Bret Church, Ali Akbar Alizadeh, and Siavoush Dastmalchi (2013), Phage Display as a Technology Delivering on the Promise of Peptide Drug Discovery, Drug Discovery Today 18, 1144-1157 doi: 10.1016/j.drudis.2013.09.001 abstract at pubmed.

Fanfan Zhou, Jian Zheng, Ling Zhu, Andreas Jodal, Pei H. Cui, Mark Wong, Howard Gurney, W. Bret Church, and Michael Murray (2013) Functional analysis of novel polymorphisms in the human SLCO1A2 gene that encodes the transporter OATP1A2, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Association Journal, 15, 1099-108 doi: 10.1208/s12248-013-9515-1 abstract at pubmed.

Emma M. Rath, Dominique Tessier, Alexander A. Campbell, Hong Ching Lee, Tim Werner, Noeris K. Salam, Lawrence K. Lee, W. Bret Church (2013) A benchmark server using high resolution protein structure data, and benchmark results for membrane helix predictions BMC Bioinformatics, 14, 111 doi: 10.1186/1471-2105-14-111 abstract at PMC abstract at pubmed.

Lawrence K. Lee, Katherine J. Bryant, R. Bouveret, Pei-Wen Lei, Anthony P. Duff, Stephen J. Harrop, E. Huang, R. Harvey, Michael H. Gelb, P.P. Gray, Paul M. Curmi, A. Cunningham, W. Bret Church, Kieran F. Scott (2013), Selective inhibition of human group IIA secreted phospholipase A2 (hGIIA) signaling reveals arachidonic acid metabolism is associated with colocalization of hGIIA to vimentin in rheumatoid synoviocytes, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 288, 15269-15279 doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.397893 abstract at pubmed.

Hong Wing Lee, Hong Ching Lee, Lawrence K. Lee, Erdahl T. Teber and W. Bret Church (2014). The Use of Soluble Protein Structures in Modelling Helical Proteins in a Layered Membrane. Journal of Biomolecular Structure & Dynamics 32, 308-318. doi:
10.1080/07391102.2013.765808
abstract at pubmed.

Tim Werner, Siavoush Dastmalchi, Michael B. Morris, W. Bret Church (2011) Structural modelling and dynamics of proteins for insights into drug interactions, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 64, 323-343 doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2011.11.011 abstract at pubmed.

Garry W. Lynch, Paul Selleck, W. Bret Church, John S. Sullivan(2012)
 Seasoned acquired heterotypic and heterosubtypic humoral immunity can guide universal vaccines for novel influenzas. Immunology and Cell Biology 90, 149-158 doi: 10.1038/icb.2011.38 abstract at pubmed.