Pharmacology of marine toxins

Venoms: predatory, defensive, and a treatment for chronic pain


Our lab researches the venoms of cone snails and spiders to better understand their evolution and potential as research tools and therapeutics to treat pain.

Research areas and current projects

  • Proteomic studies of cone snail venoms
  • Transcriptomic studies of cone snail venoms
  • Origin and diversification of conotoxins for predation and defence
  • Pharmacological studies of cone snail and tarantula venoms
  • Structure-function of venom peptides targeting sodium and calcium channels, nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, GPCRs and monamine transporters
  • Discovery, characterisation and development of sodium channel inhibitors of pain


Cone snail venom peptides in drug discovery

Cone snail venom peptides in drug discovery

Striatus fish feeding

Group leader

Prof Richard Lewis

Professor Richard Lewis

Group Leader, Chemistry and Structural Biology Division

Director, Centre for Pain Research

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Our team

Group Leader

  • Professor Richard Lewis

    Director, IMB Centre for Pain Research
    Professorial Research Fellow - GL
    Institute for Molecular Bioscience



Support staff

Research excellence

$1.3 billion+ commercial investment attracted to IMB research
1454 international collaborators
385 original publications in 2020
$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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  • Molecules from the venom of one of the world’s largest spiders could help tailor pain blockers for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • University of Queensland health and medical research projects aimed at improving the nation’s healthcare will benefit from more than $42 million in funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council for 2017.
  • IMB researchers have been awarded $4.5 million by the Australian Research Council to lead a range of groundbreaking discovery research projects. The ARC announced funding of more than $37 million today for UQ projects spanning fields as diverse as humanities, behavioural science, biomedicine and frontier technologies.


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