Understanding the molecules that underlie all life function, and how they are altered in disease states, is of fundamental importance to biomedical science and health. Equally, understanding the molecular mechanisms of therapeutics and leveraging new nanotechnologies will be key for the development of next-generation treatments. Practically all medicines are molecules (be they small molecules or biologics) and thus must be understood and developed with molecular level information. Structural biology and biophysics are the suite of multidisciplinary tools that provide precise molecular level information on the form and activity of the molecules of life. Clear examples of the importance of structural biology and biophysics for health include the massive structural biology and structure-function relationship initiatives developed in-house by biotechs and big pharma, the literally millions of lives saved by treatments which structural biology played a key role in developing, the eight Nobel prizes in the last two decades awarded for the use and/or development of structural biology and biophysics techniques, and the key role structural biology is assuming in the development of gene editing techniques. Moreover, the influence of structural biology in the health sector is accelerating as researchers using electron microscopy and/or X-ray crystallography are increasingly successful at obtaining structures of more complex, therapeutically relevant targets and medically relevant cellular machines. Furthermore, the multi-disciplinary interrogation of these complexes with both structure determination and complementary biophysical techniques provides an unprecedented level of understanding of the systems and enhanced ability to inhibit or manipulate them to improve medical treatment outcomes. Modern structural biology and biophysics are making a broader impact in health than ever before, because structural information can now be leveraged for target discovery, new modes of action, and lead-to-therapeutic development for small molecules, biologics and gene editing.
The multi-faceted research undertaken by Centre members can be broadly categorized into two themes:
Determining the molecular basis of disease and treatments
Leveraging biophysical, chemical and synthetic biology for health.