Associate Professor Mark Smythe is a medicinal chemist. His expertise lies in transforming interesting molecules into high-value medicines.

His methodology for translating academic discoveries into commercially viable companies has achieved great success. He founded biotech company Protagonist Therapeutics in 2001, which is now a publicly listed company with several compounds in human clinical trials and several others sold to pharmaceutical partners. He and his team worked for 15 years to develop an approach to replace injectable drugs with pills. They took high potency, highly selective peptides that are traditionally broken down quickly by the body, and made them stronger. So, diseases that used to require ‘big-molecule’ injections we can now treat with a ‘constrained peptide’ pill. This has several advantages to the patients and addresses unmet medical needs of various diseases

Associate Professor Smythe has always had a focus on applied research, making things. He studied a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Townsville. He wanted a PhD that was applied, so he took at position at Biota with a focus on Influenza. After working in the US, he accepted a position at the then 3D Centre in Queensland, now the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB). At IMB he uses his expertise to translate discoveries into new drug candidates.  


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Drug Discovery and Development