Superdrugs vs Superbugs

Reducing the burden of infectious diseases by applying multidisciplinary and collaborative research to craft innovative, translational solutions.

Our group is focused on applying medicinal chemistry to the discovery of translational solutions to antimicrobial resistance.

We work on developing new antibiotics, novel non-antibiotic therapies, diagnostics, and basic research tools to help understand the interactions between antibiotics and resistant bacteria.

While our emphasis is on bacterial infections, we are also exploring solutions to fungal, parasitic and viral diseases.

Key breakthroughs & discoveries

  • Discovery that cannabidoids such as CBD are a potential new class of antibiotics with activity against many Gram-positive bacteria including MRSA and a select subset of Gram-negative bacteria such as N. gonnorhoeae (Communications Biology, 4 (1) 7, 1-18. doi: 10.1038/s42003-020-01530-y)
  • Discovery that metal-containing complexes are a rich and unexplored source for new antibiotics (Chemical Science (2020) 11, 2627-2639 doi: 10.1039/C9SC06460)
  • Discovery and development of a new 'supercharged' class of glycopeptide antibiotics effective against resistant Gram-positive bacteria (Nature Communications, (2018) 9, 22 and WO 2015/117196-A1 “Antibacterial Agents”
  • WO/2019/084628 “Peptide Antibiotics”, Cooper, M.; Blaskovich, M.; Gallardo-Godoy, A., Hansford, K., Elliott, A. -new lipopeptide ‘last resort’ antibiotic for highly drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria
  • WO/2018/102890 “Visualisation Constructs”, Blaskovich, M., Cooper, M.; Butler, M.; Stone, R.; Phetsang, W. – new probes to visualise bacteria
  • WO/2018/102889 “Glycopeptide Antibiotic Constructs”, Blaskovich, M.; Cooper, M.; Ranzoni, A., Phetsang, W.; Hassan, M. P - functionalised antibiotics to develop new dignaostics
  • WO 2015/117196-A1 “Antibacterial Agents” . Cooper, M., Blaskovich, M. – novel ‘supercharged’ glycopeptide antibiotic for Gram-positive bacteria

Our facilities & services

  • Full synthetic and medicinal chemistry services
  • A suite of microbiological assays, ranging from simple in vitro MIC assays through to mouse in vivo infection models.
  • Screening for antimicrobial activity via the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery (

Group leader

Associate Professor Mark Blaskovich

Associate Professor Mark Blaskovich

Group Leader, Superdrugs vs Superbugs

Director, IMB Centre for Superbug Solutions

  +61 7 334 62039
  UQ Researcher Profile

Interviews of AMR


Invisible Wars

Our vision is to reduce the burden of infectious diseases by applying multidisciplinary and collaborative research to craft innovative, translational solutions.

My group brings together a wide range of multicultural researchers with a variety of expertise and backgrounds, working together to develop solutions to antimicrobial resistance. It is supported by a core team of senior research officers and research assistants that provide guidance and training to enable the development of multidisciplinary skills.

The group regularly supports undergraduate research projects and Honours students, and hosts international visiting academics. A large network of national and international collaborators provides opportunities for exchange visits and establishing global scientific connections. HDR students present at national and international conferences, and regularly receive presentation awards and honours.



Research funding is provided by a range of national and international agencies, including NHMRC (Project and Development grants), Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (Global Connections and Innovation Connections grants), DMTC, the Wellcome Trust, GARDP and CARB-X. PhD funding is through UQ scholarships as well as joint university programs such as QUEX and UQIIDT.

Successful funding pitch to CARB-X with Dr Alysha Elliott, Boston USA Jan 2020
Successful funding pitch to CARB-X with Dr Alysha Elliott, Boston USA Jan 2020

GARDP visiting CO-ADD labs

Our new research projects are predominantly centered around a core platform of derivatised antibiotics, using medicinal chemistry design to attach a derivatisable handle at a position where antimicrobial activity is unaffected. This handle is then used for multiple purposes – to attach fluorophores (for fluorescent probes), other imaging moieties (e.g. PET, SPECT, MPI to detect bacterial infections in the clinic), other antibiotics (to create hybrid dual-acting therapeutics), adjuvants (to create antibiotics with enhanced activity), antibodies (to create antibody-drug conjugates), immune-stimulating agents (ARMS or PROTAC approaches) or magnetic nanoparticles (to create bacterial capture reagents for diagnostics).

Other research projects are beginning to exploit the wealth of information contained within the CO-ADD database, by identifying potential new chemical scaffolds with antimicrobial activity and conducting medicinal chemistry optimisation.

Finally, I retain a strong interest in the design and synthesis of novel amino acids and peptidomimetics, and their application to a range of potential therapeutic targets, particularly proteases and G-protein coupled receptors.

  • antibiotic design and development
  • non-antibiotic approaches to bacterial therapeutics
  • assays and research tool to detect and study antimicrobial resistance
  • amino acid and peptidomimetic design and synthesis

Dr Blaskovich is an Associate Editor of ACS Infectious Diseases

  • How to stimulate and facilitate early stage antibiotic discovery

    Zuegg, Johannes, Hansford, Karl A., Elliott, Alysha G., Cooper, Matthew A. and Blaskovich, Mark A. T. (2020). How to stimulate and facilitate early stage antibiotic discovery. ACS Infectious Diseases, 6 (6), 1302-1304. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.0c00163

  • Metal complexes as a promising source for new antibiotics

    Frei, Angelo, Zuegg, Johannes, Elliott, Alysha G., Baker, Murray V., Braese, Stefan, Brown, Christopher, Chen, Feng, Dowson, Christopher Gerard, Dujardin, Gilles, Jung, Nicole, King, A. Paden, Mansour, Ahmed Moustafa, Massi, Massimiliano, Moat, John, Mohamed, Heba A., Renfrew, Anna, Rutledge, Peter, Sadler, Peter J., Todd, Matthew Houghton, Willans, Charlotte E., Wilson, Justin Jeff, Cooper, Matthew Allister and Blaskovich, Mark (2020). Metal complexes as a promising source for new antibiotics. Chemical Science, 11 (10), 2627-2639. doi: 10.1039/c9sc06460e

  • Fluoroquinolone-derived fluorescent probes for studies of bacterial penetration and efflux

    Stone, M. Rhia L., Masi, Muriel, Phetsang, Wanida, Pagès, Jean-Marie, Cooper, Matthew A. and Blaskovich, Mark A. T. (2019). Fluoroquinolone-derived fluorescent probes for studies of bacterial penetration and efflux. MedChemComm, 10 (6), 901-906. doi: 10.1039/c9md00124g

View all publications

Extensive network of national and international collaborations with academic, industrial and not-for-profit research groups.

Our approach

Our research is anchored in medicinal chemistry, which is at the core of all our research themes. I believe strongly in the strength of multidisciplinary and collaborative research, leveraging the expertise of national and international investigators in a wide range of fields to jointly develop solutions to the urgent threat of antimicrobial resistance. We are focused on developing translational outcomes, with real-world impact.

Research areas

New antibiotics

  • Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic projects
  • High throughput screening
  • medicinal and synthetic chemistry
  • machine learning and chemoinformatics approaches
  • peptidomimetic drug design
  • microbiological characterisation
  • mode of action studies
  • drug formulation

Non-Antibiotic Alternatives

  • potentiators
  • antibody-drug conjugates
  • immune-stimulating therapies
  • virulence factors
  • lysins

Antimicrobial Diagnostics

  • antibiotic-derived fluorescent probes for fundamental investigations into bacterial resistance
  • flow cytometry characterisation of bacteria
  • imaging diagnostics: fluorescent 'bacteria paint', PET and SPECT radiolabeled agents, magnetic particle imaging
  • derivatised nanoparticles for bacterial capture and detection

Our team

Group Leader


Support Staff

  • Veah Tapat

    Miss Veah Tapat

    Research Administration Officer
    Institute for Molecular Bioscience