Highlights

A fascination for chemistry, marine biology and zoology led Professor Richard Lewis to become expert in analyzing and characterizing venoms. He is best known for using mass spectroscopy and novel bioassays to characterise conotoxins, which are small venom peptides from predatory marine snails, and using molecular pharmacology to enhance molecules for drug development.

The focus of Professor Lewis’s research is discovering and developing new treatments for chronic pain. Several conotoxins discovered by his research team have been taken into the clinic, including Xen2174 for severe pain.

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Researcher biography

Professor Lewis started working on toxins during his PhD studies at the University of Queensland, where he researched the nature and pharmacology of ciguatoxins responsible for ciguatera fish poisoning. After 10 years with the Queensland Department of Primary Industry following this line of research, he moved back to The University of Queensland to initiate research into the phamacology of conotoxins, small venom peptides produced by carnivorous cone snails. This research led to the isolation and characterisation of several new classes of conotoxins, including two (w-CVID and Xen2174) that were developed clinically. His current research focusses on the discovery, evolution and structure-function of venom peptides, especially those with potential for the treatment of difficult to manage pain.