Professor David Vaux

Professor David Vaux



David Vaux



BMedSc Melbourne MBBS Melbourne PhD Melbourne

Deputy Director and Joint Division Head

We are investigating how cells kill themselves. In particular we are interested in the molecules that cause cell death, how they are switched on and off.

Many diseases are characterised by either too much or too little cell death. We hope that understanding cell death processes will help us develop new treatments for these diseases.

Research interest 

Our research centres on the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) family of proteins. These have been implicated in pathways regulating cell survival and cell death both in resting cells and in cells exposed to members of the TNF superfamily of ligands. IAPs are thought to promote cancer development.

The evidence for this includes:

  • A variety of cancers have amplification of the locus bearing cIAP1 and cIAP2 genes. 
  • Chromosomal translocations involving cIAP2 are associated with MALT lymphomas. 

Pharmaceutical companies have developed IAP antagonist compounds that mimic the IAP-binding protein smac/Diablo. These are now in phase 1 clinical trials. 

Our research is focused on: 

  • Determining the mechanism by which the E3 ligase activity of IAPs is activated. 
  • Identifying cytoplasmic IAP activators.
  • Revealing how IAPs interact and function in concert with RIPK1, RIPK3, FLIP, TRAFs, caspase 8 and caspase 1.
David Vaux presenting

Professor David Vaux presents the institute's policy and procedure on good scientific practice