Chemical biology and drug discovery of cell death

About the lab

My research group, bringing together medicinal chemists and chemical biologists, aims at developing small molecules that:

  1. help us understand biological processes and
  2. can lead to future first-in-class medicines.

We are particularly interested in cellular pathways controlling cell death, which are corrupted in many diseases, including cancers and inflammatory conditions. Our approaches combines medicinal chemistry, structure based-drug design and cutting edge small molecule target identification approaches.

We are a highly multidisciplinary team and we collaborate with many colleagues across WEHI and beyond.

Our mission

Vision: First-in-class medicines and discovery biology through chemistry

Purpose: To work as a multidisciplinary team that leverage medicinal chemistry and chemical biology to make discoveries and develop novel medicines.


My lab is recognised for the development and biological characterisation of of small molecules targeting the BCL-2 family of proteins, essential regulators of a cell death process called apoptosis which is deregulated in all cancers. In collaboration with structural biology colleagues, we use use structure-based drug design and medicinal chemistry to design novel anti-cancer medicines.

More recently we leveraged chemical biology approaches, such as chemical probe design and chemoproteomics, to discover small molecules that block, rather than induce, apoptosis and highlighted the role of a mitochondrial protein called VDCA2 in regulating this process.

We are also investigating a more recently discovered cell death pathway called necroptosis and developing novel inhibitors of this inflammatory form of cell death for the treatments of conditions such as ischemia reperfusion injuries or inflammatory conditions.

Lab research projects

Lab team

Chemistry is an essential component of successful biomedical research. With a strong focus on medicinal chemistry and chemical biology, our lab strives to integrate multi-disciplinary approaches based on cohesive teams of researchers.

To achieve this goal, we have strong collaborations with a number of WEHI labs and divisions and all our projects are run as a multidisciplinary, collegial teams.
We collaborate with the following laboratories at WEHI:

  • Czabotar Lab
  • Murphy Lab
  • Silke Lab
  • Tham Lab
  • Komander Lab
  • Strasser Lab
  • Lindeman Lab
  • Lowes Lab, The National Drug Discovery Centre


  • The Wickramasinghe Lab (PMCC)
  • The Centre for Drug Candidate Optimisation (CDCO, MIPS, Monash)
  • Hogan Lab (PMCC)
  • Nicolazzo Lab (MIPS, Monash)
  • Lagendijk Lab (UQ)
10 members
Research Officer
Sophie Stevens
Visiting Masters Student (by coursework)
Prof Andrew Wilks
Honorary Research Fellow
Fransisca Sumardy
Research Assistant
Research Officer
Senior Research Officer
Dr Ying Zhang
Research Officer
Yelena Khakham
Research Assistant
Dr Duong Nhu
Senior Research Officer
Interested in supporting our research?

Your support will help WEHI’s researchers make discoveries and find treatments to ensure healthier, longer lives for you and your loved ones.

Contact our friendly team to find out how you can help.