Proteins & peptides are exciting molecules

Proteins and peptides are the working molecules of life, they make up the fundamental machinery that runs most biological processes. They are biopolymers composed of sequences of different amino acids linked together to form peptides (up to 50 amino acids) or proteins (over 50 amino acids).

The importance of proteins and peptides in biology is undeniable; they are responsible for the shapes and structures of cells and tissues and the regulation of life cycle functions, including development, growth, maturation, reproduction, ageing and death. They control digestion, metabolism, defence, environmental adaptation and evolution. Understanding how and why amino acids are assembled, why they are chemically tailored into millions of structures and how their diverse functions govern life is much more complex than unpacking each genome and represents one of the greatest challenges of the biology revolution.

An integrated approach to peptide and protein science


Australia has a vast biodiversity and harbours many peptides and proteins across a plethora of biological niches that wait to be discovered. Advances in technology such as in DNA sequencing and genome mining, in high throughput isolation of peptides and proteins, and in faster more efficient purification and analytical characterisation methods allow us to discover new peptides and proteins. These discoveries will drive our Decode theme.


Making sense of the links between chemical structure and biological function is paramount for developing new products for industry, agriculture and health. Our Decode theme will determine the molecular structures of peptides and proteins, decipher biological functions and reveal how modifications tune structure, function and cellular localisation. These insights will critically underpin our Develop theme to reach targets deep inside cells.


With advances in solid-phase peptide synthesis and molecular biology, it has become possible to rationally design and engineer novel peptides and proteins with targeted functions. Current frontiers in the field include efforts to make modified peptides and proteins that replicate or mimic natural proteins bearing post translational modifications, and downsizing proteins into smaller yet complex peptides that retain functionality. These will be translated into new commercial products by our Industry Partners.