Medicinal Chemistry and Synthesis

Medicinal chemistry

Medicinal Chemistry covers all elements of the development of new medicines for human use, including the isolation of new medicinal agents from natural sources, the design and synthesis of new drugs, and understanding the cause of diseases at the molecular level.

Research groups

The Kelso Moller research group’s interests are centred on the study of vaping products including nicotine-containing and nicotine-free products (vitamin and “health” vapes) and cannabis vaping. Our studies focus on determining the chemical composition of these products (commercially available on the Australian market, licit or illicit, and reproduced in the laboratory) to assess their health impacts (via comparison to known harms and in house in vitro toxicity studies).

Packaged and unpackaged Vaping products arranged on a white surface.

Our group has developed analytical methods to investigate the chemical composition of the different samples outlined below.

Detection and quantification of the following compounds in electronic cigarette products:

  • Nicotine (including determining the type of nicotine – free base vs salt)
  • Coolants
  • Flavours
  • Additional compounds formed in situ via chemical reactions between e-liquid components
  • Metals


Analysis of cannabis vaping products allows for the determination of:

  • potency of samples (delta- 9-THC concentration and other cannabinoids (14 compounds) present using a liquid chromatography mass spectrometry method)
  • the terpene profile of samples (64 compounds, using a gas chromatography mass spectrometry method)

Our most recent collaborative projects include:

For more information, view Dr Celine Kelso and Dr Jody Moller Scholar pages 

The Pyne group’s interests are concerned with the application of organic chemical synthesis to the preparation of novel and biologically relevant heterocyclic compounds for new drug discovery. Our current collaborative projects include:

  1. Azasugar alkaloids and their analogues as alpha-glycosidase inhibitors with potential applications as anti-diabetic and anti-obesity drugs.
  2. New N- and O-heterocycles via novel metal-catalyzed reaction discovery (with C. Hyland)
  3. Cationic peptides for the discovery of new antibacterial agents to fight pathogenic bacteria including Clostridium difficile involved in gut infections (with P. Keller and H.Yu).

We are also collaborating with scientists in SE Asia (Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia) and Nigeria on studying traditional medical plants for the discovery of new antibacterial, anti-cancer and anti-malarial agents.

View Professor Stephen Pyne's Scholars page

Contact for more information

The Hyland research group develops new catalytic chemical reactions for the synthesis of biologically important molecular motifs. In particular, we focus on the stereoselective synthesis of complex heterocycles via transition metal catalysis. The ultimate aim of our work is to develop tools for chemists and biologists to build complex molecules that may be used in new pharmaceuticals, biological probes or materials, while contributing to fundamental chemical knowledge.  We also use our knowledge of reaction mechanisms and organometallics to design selective anti-cancer pro-drugs that are activated by reactive oxygen species. 

View Dr Chris Hyland's Scholars page

Contact for more information.

View Scholars page