About Professor Robert Vandenberg

I have been fascinated in biological chemistry since high school and in particular how proteins control so many different biochemical processes. More recently, I have been inspired to use our insights into protein structure and function to develop drugs that will hopefully be of therapeutic value.

Professor Vandenberg is an internationally recognized leader in the field of Neurotransmitter Transporters.

Rob Vandenberg graduated with a Science degree in 1984 and a PhD in Biochemistry in 1989 from the University of Sydney. He was a Human Frontiers of Science Postdoctoral Fellow at the Vollum Institute, Portland Oregon before joining the staff of the University of Sydney as a Lecturer in 1995 and setting up the Transporter Biology Group. After holding an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship he was promoted to Professor and Head of the Discipline of Pharmacology in 2010 and since then he has helped to create a dynamic research intensive Discipline. Professor Vandenberg's research interests have focused on understanding how neurotransmitter transporters work. These proteins play key roles in regulating neurotransmission in the brain and are also the targets of a number of theraputic drugs and drugs of abuse. A major focus of our work is on the design, synthesis and development of new bioactive lipids that inhibit glycine transporters. These compounds represent a new class of allosteric transport inhibitors and show considerable potential as analgesics for the treatment of chronic pain. We have developed a multi-pronged approach to the drug development: medicinal chemistry; protein structure and function studies; in silico molecular dynamics simulations; and we collaborate with Mac Christie, Karin Aubrey and Sarasa Mohammadi to understand how these compounds alter glycinergic neurotransmission and alleviate pain. We are also working with Michael Murray's group to investigate the pharmacokinetic properties of these compounds with the aim of developing drugs that can be used in the clinic for the treatment of chronic pain. The group has also recently discovered a series of compounds that allosterically stimulate the activity of Glycine Receptors and we are investigating how they modulate receptor function and also the therapeutic potential of these compounds.

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Selected publications

For a comprehensive list of Professor Vandenberg's publicatons, please visit his Sydney Medical School profile page.