Professor Guillaume Lessene

Professor Guillaume Lessene



Professor Guillaume Lessene in a laboratory


Laboratory Head; Leader, New Medicines and Advanced Technologies Theme

My research group is focused on medicinal chemistry and chemical biology. We are developing new agents to understand biological processes, which may lead to future medicines. We are particularly interested in cellular pathways controlling cell death, which are corrupted in many diseases such as cancer and inflammatory diseases.

Our work aims to design small molecules that target the molecules controlling cell death. We collaborate with many other research groups, applying medicinal chemistry and chemical biology strategies to reveal the basic biology underpinning diseases. Our goal is to develop new treatments for cancer, ischaemic brain injury, stroke and inflammatory diseases.

Research interest

Our laboratory applies medicinal chemistry and chemical biology approaches to basic and translational research. We collaborate closely with researchers, both at the institute and externally, to undertake multidisciplinary research programs encompassing chemistry, structural biology, high throughput screening, biochemistry and biology.

A core research goal of our laboratory is to use small molecule probes to understand the key pathways—apoptosis and necroptosis—that govern whether a cell lives or dies. Cell survival or death is an important contributor to many diseases. Our research aims to develop improved therapies for cancers, ischaemic brain injury and stroke.

We are also interested in:

  • Designing small molecules called peptidomimetics, and understanding how these bind their target proteins.
  • Efficiently synthesising biologically active natural products to facilitate structure-activity relationship studies.
Scientists looking at a vial in a laboratory

An institute team has developed a molecule that can halt inflammation and has shown promise in preventing the progression of multiple sclerosis.

Four researchers smiling at camera

The discovery and development of breakthrough anti-cancer drug venetoclax has seen four senior scientists from the Institute win the 2019 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation.

Researchers and Health Minister with robotic equipment

The Australian Government has committed to $25 million in funding to enhance drug discovery capabilities at the Institute’s Drug Discovery Centre.