Molecular Biodiscovery: learning from nature

We are experts in the detection, isolation, identification and evaluation of biologically active small molecules from Nature (known as natural products).


Our research aims to learn how and why Nature makes and uses natural products, to decipher molecular structures, and be inspired by their remarkable chemical and biological properties.

Our research has led to discovery of thousands of natural products, many rare or new to science, with the knowledge gained informing innovative solutions to important scientific, medical, agricultural and environmental problems.


Group leader

Prof Rob Capon

Professor Rob Capon

Group Leader, Molecular Biodiscovery: learning from nature

Investigator, Centre for Pain Research, IMB

  +61 7 334 62979
  UQ Researcher Profile

Our approach

Our research calls on many areas of science;

  • We are primarily chemists, drawing on knowledge of the fundamental principles of organic chemistry, supported by an array of sophisticated technologies, including analytical, semi-preparative and preparative high performance liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.  
  • As much of our research is focused on microbial chemistry, we are skilled in the isolation and study of bacteria and fungi from diverse environments, and the use of innovative methods for high throughput cultivation and metabolite profiling.
  • Biological profiling is critical to biodiscovery, and our inhouse capabilities include assays against drug sensitive and resistant human pathogens including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, as well as crop pathogens, animal parasites, and human cancers.

Research areas

Our natural products (biodiscovery) seeks to learn from Nature, to;

  • Provide an exciting and productive research training environment.
  • Gain access to and learn about new high value natural chemicals.
  • Interpret the language behind inter-species chemical communication and ecology.
  • Develop new molecular probes to better understand living systems, and disease.
  • Develop new pharmaceuticals for infectious and inflammatory diseases, cancer and pain.
  • Develop new antiparasitics to safeguard animal health and welfare.
  • Develop new fungicides, herbicides and insecticides to protect crops and improve productivity.
  • Develop new molecular tools to protect the environment.

Our team

Group Leader



Non-IMB PhD Candidates

Research excellence

$1.3 billion+ commercial investment attracted to IMB research
1454 international collaborators
300+ original publications in 2022
$28M in research funding last calendar year
20%+ of patent families at UQ are derived from IMB research
100% of donations go to the cause

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