Faculty of Science - Leading creativity and innovation in the sciences

Research funding and workshops

Funding for 2014

There will be one 'pipeline development' funding round in 2014.  It will close on 16 May. 

Biopharma application form
(33.1 kB, MSWORD)

This short-term (12 months or less) targeted funding aims to help projects progress over a relatively short time-frame. Applicants must demonstrate how the funding will be used to enable an existing project to advance by accessing capability from another discipline outside their own research group (this includes the purchase of external capability not available at The University of Auckland. e.g. high-throughput screening). Cross-faculty collaboration is encouraged. A successful application must clearly describe an excellent multidisciplinary, collaborative project with not only therapeutic promise, but also good potential to:

  • Attract external revenue, from either grants or commercial sources
  • Generate high quality publications
  • Enhance The University of Auckland's research profile in the ‘biopharma’ area.

To date, most projects have received amounts in the $50,000-$100,000 range.


Projects funded in 2013

The following projects have been successful in winning ‘biopharma pipeline’ development grants:

Project title Collaborators Project aim
Radiosensitisers for stereotactic body radiation therapy Mike Hay, Muriel Bonnet, Kevin Hicks, Frederik Pruijn and Jingli Wang (FMHS - ACSRC) To synthesise gram quantities of lead compounds for testing in in vivo radiosensitisation experiments.
Clinical candidate AKR1C3 prodrugs for bladder cancer and leukemia Adam Patterson, Jeff Smaill, Chris Guise and Amir Ashoordazeh (FMHS – ACSRC) To synthesise a lead compound series, and to support the screening of these compounds.
Patient-derived xenografts as predictive preclinical models of human cancer Steve Jamieson (FMHS - ACSRC), Ben Lawrence and Mike Findlay (FMHS/ADHB) To purchase and raise NSG mice to be used to set up patient-derived xenograft models.
Development of a new kinase inhibitor scaffold Christina Buchanan, Peter Shepherd, (FMHS) Gordon Rewcastle, Swarna Gamage, Jack Flanagan and Steve Jamieson (FMHS - ACSRC) To synthesis and screen lead compounds with the aim of generating sufficient data to file a patent.
Anti-malarial agents Brent Copp and Norrie Pearce (FoS) To synthesise a small series of novel compounds based on a ‘successful ‘hit’, and test their activity against Plasmodium falciparium.
Development of IDO1 inhibitors for restoring tumour immunity Lai-Ming Ching and Brian Palmer (FMHS - ACSRC) To optimise ‘hits’ from a cancer drug discovery programme targeting indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO).
‘Going against the flow’ Colin Green (FMHS), Margaret Brimble, Paul Harris (FoS), Simon O’Carroll, Louise Nicholson and Helen Danesh-Meyer (FMHS) To synthesise and test a series of peptides for testing a novel disease approach.
Progression of lipopeptide immunotherapy towards clinical trial Margaret Brimble, Geoff Williams and Rod Dunbar (FoS) To synthesise and screen lead compounds, and to develop a GMP synthetic process suitable for preparation of a clinical candidate.
Benzotriazine oxide (BTO) prodrugs for exploiting hypoxia and low extracellular pH in the tumour microenvironment Bill Wilson, Mike Hay, Jingli Wang, Yongchuan Gu and Kevin Hicks (FMHS - ACSRC), Ben Lawrence and Mike Findlay (FMHS/ADHB) To optimise benzotriazine oxide (BTO) prodrug candidates for the tumour microenvironment.
New drugs for non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections Siouxsie Wiles (FMHS) and Bill Denny (FMHS - ACSRC) To use a novel technology to screen a series of compounds against selected mycobacterial species.
Antagonists against a conserved virulence factor active site Ries Langley (FMHS) and Jack Flanagan (FMHS – ACRSC) To discover small molecule inhibitors of a target relevant to infectious disease.
Targeting multi-inhibitor resistant oncogenic ABL1 Peter Shepherd, Christina Buchanan (FMHS) Peter Browett (FMHS/ADHB), Gordon Rewcastle, Jack Flanagan Jeff Smaill and Steve Jamieson (FMHS - ACSRC) To exploit a novel chemical scaffold to develop a new class of ABL1 inhibitors.

Projects funded in 2012

The following projects have been successful in winning ‘biopharma pipeline’ development grants:

 Project title Collaborators Project aim
Short-acting analogues of ketamine as anaesthetics Jamie Sleigh (FMHS, Waikato Clinical School), Bill Denny (FMHS – ACSRC) To design, synthesise and test ketamine analogues with significantly shorter half-lives than ketamine itself, to avoid the need for concomitant use of sedatives/ hypnotics during anaesthesia.
Development of new generation adjuvants for immunotherapy Margaret Brimble, Geoff Williams and Rod Dunbar (FoS) To use ‘click’ chemistry to synthesise peptide vaccine adjuvants with improved solubility and a reduced tendency to aggregate.
Aldo-keto reductase 1C3 (AKR1C3) inhibitors for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer Steve Jamieson (FMHS – ACSRC) and Jo Perry (FMHS – Liggins) To test a series of AKR1C3 inhibitors for their activity in ER-positive breast cancer.
Development of a platform technology for drug development Kerry Loomes (FoS) To develop a perfused organ system to study drug metabolism.
AKR1C3 pro-drugs for haematological malignancies Adam Patterson, Jeff Smaill, Jack Flanagan (FMHS – ACSRC) and Chris Squire (FoS) To design, synthesise and test an AKR1C3-activated pro-drug as a candidate for treating haematological malignancies.
Antibodies which target a novel breast cancer oncogene Dong-Xu Liu, Jo Perry (FMHS - Liggins) To develop and test therapeutic monoclonal antibodies which inhibit a novel breast cancer oncogene.
Xanthenone derivatives as antiangiogenic compounds Christina Buchanan, Peter Shepherd (FMHS), Gordon Rewcastle, Jack Flanagan and Steve Jamieson (FMHS – ACSRC) To synthesise and test a series of angiogenesis inhibitors based on the xanthenone scaffold.
Toxicology assessment of nitroCBI hypoxia-activated anticancer pro-drugs Moana Tercel and Frederik Pruijn (FMHS – ACSRC) To assess the safety of a class of hypoxia-activated anticancer pro-drugs.

Projects funded in 2011

The following projects have been successful in winning ‘biopharma pipeline’ development grants:

Project title Collaborators Project aim
Anti-malarial agents Brent Copp (FoS), Norrie Pearce (FoS) and collaborators To design and synthesise new small molecule anti-malarial agents, and test their activity against Plasmodium falciparium.
Novel natural compound to treat fungal infections Silas Villas-Boas (FoS), Dave Greenwood (FoS) and clinical collaborators To screen a novel antifungal agent against clinically important human fungal pathogens
Radiosensitisers for stereotactic body radiation therapy Mike Hay, Muriel Bonnet (FMHS), Bob Anderson (FoS), Kevin Hicks (FMHS), Frederik Pruijn (FMHS), Jingli Wang (FMHS)

To obtain proof-of-concept data for a novel class of small molecule radiosensitisers suitable for use in conjunction with technologically advanced radiotherapy techniques. The therapeutic aim is to treat small inoperable tumours.

Adrenomedullin receptor drug discovery for cancer Debbie Hay (FoS), Jack Flanagan, Mike Hay, Muriel Bonnet (FMHS) To systematically synthesise and test small molecule antagonists of the AM1 receptor, determine their biological effects and therapeutic potential in cancer.
Non-antibiotic tetracycline analogues for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes Jackie Aitken, Garth Cooper, Margaret Brimble (FoS) and collaborators To synthesise small molecule inhibitors of amyloid formation, and test them in a novel in vivo model of Type 2 diabetes.
Positive allosteric modulators of adrenomedullin and CGRP receptors, and their therapeutic applications Debbie Hay (FoS), Jack Flanagan, Mike Hay, Muriel Bonnet (FMHS) To develop small molecules which enhance the activity of CGRP and/or AM receptors, and determine their biological effects and therapeutic potential.
Developing irreversible phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitors Peter Shepherd, Christina Buchanan (FMHS), Gordon Rewcastle, Jackie Kendall, Jack Flanagan, Steve Jamieson (FMHS - ACSRC) To obtain in vitro binding, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data for validation of ‘long-acting’ properties, known to be of commercial interest
Designing new inhibitors to the human growth receptor hormone Jo Perry, Dong-Xu Liu (FMHS - Liggins), Jack Flanagan, Mike Hay (ACSRC) To synthesise small molecule human growth hormone receptor antagonists, and determine their therapeutic potential in cancer
Developing a cell-based resource for drug development Shepherd group (FMHS) and Baguley group (FMHS - ACSRC) To develop an existing resource (early-passage cell line cultures derived from human tumours) into a format available to all UoA researchers, and to use this expanded resource, along with patient tumour genotyping data, to inform the selection of patients for early-phase cancer clinical trials
A genome-wide screening platform for discovery of drug resistance/sensitivity genes Bill Wilson, Jingli Wang (FMHS - ACSRC), Peter Sobieszczuk (FMHS - VJU), Cris Print, (FMHS) and David Adams (Sanger Institute) To develop a low cost, tissue culture-based screening platform to identify genes that determine drug sensitivity (predictive biomarkers), and to make this resource available to all UoA researchers
Validating novel anti-inflammatory drugs in a mouse model of allergic dermatitis Phil Crosier, Chris Hall (FMHS), Geoff Krissansen, Kevin Sun (FMHS) To test in a mouse model 9 drug hits from a zebrafish screen which suppress neutrophil recruitment into an inflammatory site

Projects funded in 2010

In 2010, seven projects were successful in winning biopharma ‘pipeline development’ grants. Of these, three were presented at a biopharma workshop.

 Project title Collaborators Project aim
Small molecule antagonists to the AM1 receptor Deborah Hay (FoS), Jack Flanagan (FMHS), Mike Hay (FMHS) To discover small molecule inhibitors of the AM1 receptor and determine their biological effects and therapeutic potential.
Chemical validation of a TB target

Shaun Lott (FoS), Swarna Gamage, Bill Denny (FMHS)

To design and synthesise small molecule TrpD inhibitors, and test their biological effects and potential in TB treatment.
Virtual screening Jack Flanagan (FMHS) and Nick Jones (FoS) To make virtual screening software (for drug discovery) accessible via desktop.
Milk-derived fatty acids as potential bone resorption inhibitors Jill Cornish (FMHS), Andrew Marshall, Bill Denny (FMHS) To design and synthesise promising fatty acid analogues, and test their efficacy as bone resorption inhibitors.
Small molecule inhibitors of β7 integrins to combat inflammation Geoff Krissansen (FMHS), Bill Denny (FMHS)
To discover small molecule inhibitors of β7 integrins, and test their therapeutic potential.
High throughput screening for inhibitors of indoleamine 2,3-dioxgenase Lai-Ming Ching (FMHS), Jack Flanagan, Dave Bridewell, Brian Palmer (FMHS) To obtain a suite of lead compounds to rapidly progress a cancer drug discovery programme targeting indole 2,3-dioxygenase.
Preptin peptidomimetics for the treatment of osteoporosis Jill Cornish (FMHS), Margaret Brimble and Renata Kowalczyk (FoS) To design and synthesise preptin peptidomimetics and test their therapeutic potential in osteoporosis.


In addition to ‘enabling’ promising research projects through targeted grants, the biopharma programme also aims to harness the substantial drug discovery and development experience which exists across The University of Auckland research community. A workshop format allows invited University of Auckland and external ‘experts’ to focus their attention on a given project, so that it may be examined from all angles.

If you would like feedback on a proposed therapeutic development project please contact

Diana Gash
Email: d.gash@auckland.ac.nz