Dr Christina Schroeder is a bioactive peptide engineer who uses venom-derived peptides from spiders, cone snails and snakes to develop novel treatments for chronic and neuropathic pain. Dr Schroeder is particularly fascinated by the possibility of harnessing the venom from an animal that has evolved to kill its prey to develop something that could benefit human kind.

The ultimate result of Dr Schroeder's research is to develop a treatment that allows people to manage chronic pain, a condition that one out of five Australians suffers from, and which currently has inadequate treatments. To that end, she is exploring the relationship between drugs and receptors, focusing on expanding on the traditional lock and key mechanism to include the membrane surrounding the receptors. Dr Schroeder aims to unlock a detailed understanding of how these venom-derived peptides engage with receptors in the body and how we can use this knowledge to design more potent drugs with fewer side effects.

Dr Schroeder completed her PhD in Pharmacology at The University of Queensland and after working at institutes overseas and in Australia, including The Scripps Research Institute and the University of New South Wales, has returned to IMB to establish her research group working alongside her long term mentors Prof David Craik and Prof Richard Lewis.

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Researcher biography

Christina Schroeder received her MSc in Chemistry from University of Kalmar, Sweden in 1998. As part of her masters, she joined Prof Richard Lewis for a 6-month internship at the Centre for Drug, Design and Development, The University of Queensland, working on conotoxins inhibiting calcium channels. After her masters, she worked as a Research Assistant at the Karolinska hospital and Stockholm University in Sweden until she returned to Australia in 1999 to conduct her PhD at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), The University of Queensland under supervision of Professor Richard Lewis and Professor David Craik working on the development of an omega-conotoxin pharmacophore. After completing her PhD in 2003, she carried out a postdoc in Professor Lewis' laboratory until 2006, when she joined Professor Philip Dawson's laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, USA to work on developing palmitoylated peptides as chaperones for infantile Batten disease. In 2007, she moved back to Australia, to join Professor Philip Hogg's laboratory at the University of New South Wales in Sydney where she worked on the multimerisation of large proteins via disulfide bonds. In 2011 she was recruite back to IMB to join Professor David Craik's group. Dr Schroeder's research is focussed on using bioactive peptides in drug design and to understand the mode of action of toxins binding to sodium channels and their surrounding membranes with the ultimate goal to develop novel non-addictive pain therapeutics.