IMB researcher recognised as one of Australia's best

27 Mar 2013

A scientist whose research into a new type of molecule may lead to improved treatments for pain and other diseases has been recognised for his outstanding contributions to science.

Professor David Craik from the IMB was today named a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (AAS), an honour reserved for researchers whose achievements are of international significance.

Professor David Craik discovered a new class of proteins known as cyclotides whose circular shape makes them ultra-stable and therefore an ideal base for therapeutic drugs.

“We discovered the cyclotides in plants and use them as a model for our protein engineering studies,” Professor Craik said.

“This involves modifying the proteins by grafting onto them new biologically active mini-proteins known as peptides to improve the stability and other properties of the peptides.”

In a related area of research Professor Craik has also developed technology for cyclising linear peptides, again to enhance their stability and potential as future drugs.

One of these peptides comes from the venom of marine cone snails and has shown great promise in early models for treating chronic pain with a lower dose and potentially fewer side effects than existing therapies.

In 2011, Professor Craik was awarded the Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry for his outstanding achievements in the chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics of peptides by the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

Professor Craik is the third IMB researcher to become an AAS Fellow, with Professor Rob Parton elected in 2009 and Professor Peter Koopman elected a Fellow in 2008 and to the AAS Council in 2012.

The prestigious fellowships were announced in Sydney this morning, honouring a select group of Australian scientists, including five UQ researchers, for their outstanding contributions to science. 

The other UQ fellows are Professor Matthew BrownProfessor Ove Hoegh-GuldbergProfessor Max Lu and Professor Andrew White

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj congratulated the five, who he said were part of the backbone of UQ's outstanding research culture. 

“These scientists reflect a diversity of research interests, but one thing they have in common is a passion to deliver results that will benefit individuals and society,” Professor Høj said. 

“The fact that UQ can contribute five new fellows in one year is a sign of the amazing depth of talent at UQ, and shows our researchers' capacity to make inroads into an array of local, national and global challenges. 

“Our latest fellows reflect a breadth of science disciplines across the University, from mapping the genes that cause arthritis, to important discoveries in structural biology and discoveries in coral bleaching that have directly influenced global policy.” 

“They have significant strengths in individual areas and, together, they represent a powerful research force across the University.” 

Such scientific strengths continue to ensure UQ's consistent appearance in the top 100 of the world's key university rankings. 

Media contact: Bronwyn Adams - 0418 575 247, 07 3346 2134 or