Molecular Horizons

Molecular Horizons: a centre for Molecular and Life Sciences

Molecular Horizons Building

Understanding life, one molecule at a time 

The molecular life sciences are at the forefront of scientific discovery, unlocking the innermost secrets of the cell and developing new ways to detect and attack disease. If cancer is to be cured, new classes of antibiotics developed, and Alzheimer’s disease reversed it will most likely be biochemists and molecular biologists powering these breakthroughs.

UOW’s new $80 million research facility, Molecular Horizons will be dedicated to making this happen – illuminating how life works at a molecular level and solving some of the biggest health challenges facing the world.

To enable this world-leading research UOW is investing in a suite of revolutionary technology including Australia’s most powerful biological electron microscope, the Titan Krios cryo-EM microscope. The Molecular Horizons Building demonstrates UOW’s commitment to impact-driven research where the world’s best molecular research will be put into practice to improve and save lives.  

An integrated research precinct

Located at UOW’s Wollongong Campus, the new Molecular Horizons Building will form the hub of a truly integrated ‘UOW Science Precinct.’ 

It will be co-located in a connected precinct with existing UOW research strengths in the areas of physical chemistry biological chemistry and medicinal chemistry, as well as cell, molecular and whole-organism biology in the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI).

It will also be closely located with undergraduate and post-graduate teaching facilities to help provide a seamless transition for students. 

Cryo-EM facilityLearn more 

 What Molecular Horizons will do

  1. Provide access for researchers to new tools for visualisation of biological processes, from the scale of individual molecules through cells and tissues up to small organisms.
  2. Enable scientists to see with high accuracy and speed individual protein molecules so we can understand how these molecular machines do their jobs inside their cells. Such level of detail has not been accessible by previous generations of microscopes.
  3. Provide an understanding of disease mechanisms and answer questions such as how unwanted immune activity can cause disease, how bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, and how certain cell signalling events drive the development of cancer. This research will open up unlimited possibilities for health-related breakthroughs and better treatments.
  4. Create a hub of revolutionary medical research and discovery.
  5. Attract regional and international researchers who will want to access rare, cutting-edge technology and work collaboratively – Increase opportunities for students and researchers in NSW and Australia.
  6. Support the growth of specialist skills and knowledge in molecular and life sciences.
  7. Position NSW and Australia as leaders in the revolutionary sciences of molecular biology, and position UOW as a hub for collaborative research, as other universities and organisations use this technology in their research.
  8. Attract world-leading researchers in the molecular research field to Australia.  

Download Brochure 

Key milestones

December 2017:

Installation of first cryo-EM equipment in temporary space on Wollongong campus. This will provide external researchers access to a Talos Arctica microscope, a high-end molecular imaging platform that is the first in Australia

First Quarter 2018:

Construction Molecular Horizons building expected to commence (pending Planning approvals)

February/March 2018:

The Titan Krios microscope will be installed at the ANSTO research facility in Lucas Heights, where it will be operated temporarily until completion of the Molecular Horizons building

End 2019:

The Molecular Horizons building expected to be completed

From 2020:

Molecular Horizons will facilitate a wide portfolio of new teaching initiatives, from highly specialised training courses to new interdisciplinary undergraduate degrees

External Project Partners

Molecular life sciences research and its application to new treatments and therapies is a highly interdisciplinary effort that requires coordination between many partners. UOW’s Molecular Horizons is proud to be partnering with many organisations, within and outside Australia, to ensure that UOW’s investment is optimally used to facilitate research, training, and ultimately combat disease and improve lives.

In the Sydney region, we have partnered with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to facilitate access to research equipment before the Molecular Horizons building is completed.

Further, we are working closely with the Ramaciotti Center for Cryo-Electron Microscopy at Monash University in Melbourne and other research organisations in the country to establish networks that will help integrate molecular life sciences research at a national level.

Finally, we are working with a large number of overseas partners in Europe, North America, Asia and New Zealand to ensure access for international researchers.


Jacobs in collaboration with DCM Architects has been appointed as the Lead Design Consultant for the design phase of the Molecular Horizons Building. The broader design consultant team includes the engagement of Arup as services engineers (mechanical, electrical and hydraulic), Robert Bird Group (RBG) as structural engineers, Robert Bird Group (RBG) in conjunction with Taylor Thomson Whiting (TTW) as civil engineers, along with relevant specialist sub-consultants.

Molecular Horizons: Antoine van Oijen

“Molecular life science is really focused on understanding proteins, the little machines inside our cells that are responsible for life in general and how we live and stay healthy. The field is going through a revolution because now we finally have the technology, in the Titan Krios, to actually visualise and understand molecules and use that understanding to develop new treatments and therapies to combat disease.” 

Professor Antoine van Oijen, University of Wollongong

Molecular Horizons: Alison Jones

“The technology at Molecular Horizons will enable us to move from developing treatments to finding cures. Medical science needs to go from the laboratory bench to the bedside and into our communities”.  

Professor Alison Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Health and Communities)
Executive Dean, Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, University of Wollongong

Related Stories

Big Little Breakthroughs: Distinguished Professor Antoine van Oijen explains the significance of Molecular Horizons

Disease Freeze FrameFilming how molecules behave is helping create new weapons in the war on infections and disease 

Antimicrobial Summit: UOW instigates Australia-wide initiative on antimicrobial resistance

Molecular Horizons Launch: World’s biggest health challenges to be confronted in Wollongong


Louisa Willdin

Phone: 02 42981126



Last reviewed: 24 May, 2018

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