Welcome to the Division of Chemical & Systems Biology

Blackburn Research Programs


The Blackburn Group currently has multi-disciplinary lead clinical proteomics research programs in the following four disease or application areas: Tuberculosis research; HIV research; Cancer research; & Diagnostics research. These research programs can be grouped in the following main areas:
Mass spectrometry-based differential proteomics and lipidomics research for diagnostic/prognostic biomarker discovery & validation, e.g.

  • Identification of markers of active vs latent tuberculosis, as well as of drug response, in patient-derived biological specimens
  • Understanding the correlation between variation in mycobacterial strain proteomes & clinical phenotypes
  • Developing and validating an ex vivo model of TB-immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (TB-IRIS), as a route to understand the aberrant immune response in TB-IRIS patients, as well as to explore potential means to modulate this syndrome via selective drug treatment
  • Understanding the molecular mechanisms that underpin the development of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders and building an in vitro model to explore potential means of modulating these neurodegenerative disorders via selective drug treatment
  • Determining the signalling pathways involved in human neurogenesis
  • Identifying biomarkers of drug response and drug resistance in colorectal cancer
  • Understanding the mechanistic link between bacterial infection and tumourogenesis in colorectal cancer

Understanding the quantitative effects of polymorphic variation and mutation on protein function and on protein-drug interactions, e.g.

  • Developing and using protein microarrays to quantify mutational effects on CYP450 drug metabolizing enzymes
  • Developing and using protein microarrays to quantify mutational effects on protein kinase enzymes
  • Developing and using novel computational approaches to model mutational effects on CYP450 and protein kinase enzymes

Developing and using protein array-based tools for biomarker discovery & validation, e.g.
Identifying autoimmune-based correlates of disease progression and of response to therapy in colorectal cancer & melanoma
Development of new diagnostic devices and assays for use at point of care, e.g.

  • Exploring the application of surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) spectroscopy in a next generation point of care diagnostic device
  • Exploring the application of DNA aptamer technology to create programmed capture reagents