Associate Professor Chris Burns

Associate Professor Chris Burns



Associate Professor Chris Burns in his office


Associate Professor

BSc (Hons) PhD Melbourne FRACI

Laboratory Head


My laboratory’s research is focused on the design and synthesis of chemical compounds as potential drugs and to inform studies in biology. My background has been in both academic and commercial drug discovery and three compounds of which I am an inventor have entered clinical trials.

I have a strong interest in drugs targeted to cancer, particularly leukaemia, as well as drugs for inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. New drugs for these diseases that have greater potency, with fewer side-effects and that offer improved patient convenience (for example, can be taken as a once-a-day pill), are sorely needed.

Research interest

My research interests are focused toward the discovery of compounds directed towards novel molecular targets in cancer and inflammatory disease. Thus, my laboratory is involved in the design, synthesis and profiling of compounds targeted to proteins involved in transcriptional processes, and typically proteins involved in epigenetics. Such compounds have potential to affect transcription of oncogenes such as c-MYC (that have proven difficult to target directly with small molecules) and to provide chemical tools to aid in the understanding of the epigenetic machinery.

In addition, my laboratory if also interested in optimising compounds to inhibit lesser studied kinases that have been implicated in disease processes. Our current focus is the kinase TBK1, a kinase whose over-activity has been implicated in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and inhibitors of TBK1 have great potential in this disease and in unravelling the complex signalling processes that occur in an autoimmunity.