Scientific divisions

Scientific divisions

Gloved hands pipetting sample in lab

ACRF Chemical Biology

The ACRF Chemical Biology division investigates key biological processes and pathways critical in disease development to discover potential drug targets important for human disease. Our researchers use chemical, biochemical, structural and biological approaches to establish how dysregulation of critical cell signalling pathways contributes to disease, and use this to guide novel therapeutic development.

ACRF Stem Cells and Cancer

The ACRF Stem Cells and Cancer division is focused on breast, ovarian and lung cancers. Our aim is to understand the normal development of these organs, which cell types are predisposed to cancer, and find new diagnostic and therapeutic targets for these cancers.


The Bioinformatics division collaborates with institute and external researchers in designing, conducting and analysing genomic and molecular sequence studies to understand biology and disease. We also conduct research to improve existing methods and develop novel methods for analysing data.

Cancer and Haematology

The Cancer and Haematology division is working to understand the production and function of the billions of blood cells used each day to fight infections and repair tissues, and how they are regulated at the molecular level. Our aim is to understand how this process is disrupted in disease, in order to develop new therapies for immune disorders, inflammatory diseases, blood clotting disorders and cancers.

Cell Signalling and Cell Death

The Cell Signalling and Cell Death division investigates the molecular mechanisms by which cells kill themselves, and the control processes that switch cell death on and off. Many diseases are characterised by too much or too little cell death, and understanding how this process happens will help us develop new treatments for cancers and immune disorders.

Development and Cancer

Researchers from the Development and Cancer division investigate mechanisms regulating cell growth in normal development and cancer. The molecular mechanisms underlying the rapid, but regulated, growth of cells during embryonic development are frequently deregulated in cancer.


The Immunology division asks how the many different types of immune response are regulated. Our aim is to improve vaccine performance and treatment of autoimmune and immunodeficient conditions, including type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease.

Infection and Immunity

Malaria, tuberculosis and HIV are three of the major global infectious diseases causing significant death and disease, particularly in resource-poor countries. The Infection and Immunity division aims to understand how infectious agents cause human disease and use this knowledge to develop new treatments.


The Inflammation division seeks to understand the complex series of biological and molecular mechanisms that regulate inflammation. Our aim is to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of human inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, sepsis and rheumatic fever.

Molecular Genetics of Cancer

The Molecular Genetics of Cancer division is investigating how our cells normally die and how defects in this process cause disease, particularly cancer. Better understanding of cell death will help us to develop improved treatments for both cancers and immune disorders.

Molecular Immunology

The Molecular Immunology division aims to understand the immune system and how it functions to protect us from pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, while at the same time ignoring the harmless or beneficial microbes in our environment. By understanding the normal immune response, we aim to pinpoint the events that go awry in diseases such as lymphoma, autoimmunity or chronic infections.

Molecular Medicine

Researchers in the Molecular Medicine division are investigating how biological systems function and are controlled in normal and disease states. With programs focused on blood cell production and function, epigenetics and cancer, our goal is to pinpoint molecular targets for disease diagnosis and treatment.

Population Health and Immunity

The Population Health and Immunity division uses population-based studies to investigate the basic biology of diseases. We have a strong focus on the epidemiology of infectious diseases such as malaria, and understanding the causes of complex diseases including diabetes and brain disorders.

Structural Biology

The Structural Biology division is interested in discovering new medicines through studies of the three-dimensional structure of large biological molecules that are either targets for drugs or potential therapeutic agents in their own right.

Systems Biology and Personalised Medicine

The Systems Biology and Personalised Medicine division uses high-throughput biology to understand global changes in biological systems, and to inform therapeutic decisions. The technologies – including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, chemical and genetic screens – are improving our understanding of cancers, immune disorders and infectious diseases.

Wai-Hong Tham with collaborators in her office

"Science doesn't exist as an island."

Molecular parasitologist and lab head, Dr Wai-Hong Tham talks about collaboration at the institute.