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Kassiou Group

Designing and developing drugs to treat diseases of the brain
Using modern organic chemistry techniques to synthesise novel chemical entities, we explore drug-protein and drug-binding site interactions with the aim of developing new treatments.

Our aims

Our work covers an exciting and diverse range of fields within medicinal chemistry and drug discovery.

Our aim is to use modern organic chemistry techniques to synthesise novel chemical entities and develop structure-activity relationships of bioactive CNS molecules. We explore drug-protein and drug-binding site interactions, allowing us to rationally design more efficacious drug treatments in the area of protein aggregation, neuroinflammation and social withdrawal.

Our research

We have an extensive medicinal chemistry program evaluating structure–activity relationships of a number of molecules that interact with specific targets that are involved in disease states of the brain. Our aim is to identify lead molecules that can be further developed into drug candidates for the treatment of disease. We have a strong translational focus, partnering with industry and other relevant stakeholders to advance the commercial applications of our research.

Our three broad areas of research are shown below. Please inquire for details of specific projects.

Protein aggregation

Protein aggregation is associated with many disease states, in particular Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and frontal temporal dementia, among others. This occurs when proteins misfold and aggregate together, generally resulting in cell death. Our work tackles this problem on multiple fronts, developing small organic molecules that inhibit the processes that lead to misfolding, reduce aggregation and/or dismantle aggregates that have formed.


Neuroinflammation in the brain centres around the microglia immune cells that are activated in response to various events, including infection or traumatic brain injury. Evidence suggests that neuroinflammation has a significant role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Our research is developing small molecules that work against neuroinflammation as a treatment for these diseases. We also have a significant focus on imaging the neuroinflammation process by developing compounds appropriate for PET imaging.

Social withdrawal

Conditions that commonly overlap with social withdrawal include depression, autism, addiction and social anxiety, among others. These might be considered as either the cause or the symptoms of social withdrawal. We are designing compounds that treat social withdrawal as a means of targeting multiple disease states.

Our people

  • Professor Michael Kassiou
  • Dr Tristan Reekie, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  • Dr Jonathan Danon, University of Sydney Postdoctoral Fellow
  • James O’Brien-Brown, PhD Student
  • Annukka Kallinen, PhD Student
  • Michael Moir, PhD Student
  • Renee Sokias, PhD Student
  • Tim Katte, PhD Student
  • Tim Callis, PhD Student
  • Sarah Bowyer, Honours Student
  • Jack Zeng, Honours Student


For information about opportunities to work or collaborate with the Kassiou Group, please ocntact Michael Kassiou.

Michael Kassiou

Professor of Medicinal Chemistry
  • Room 546, School of Chemistry Building (F11) University of Sydney NSW, 2006