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Modulating membrane protein activity is an important means of influencing biological function: almost 70% of all FDA approved drugs target membrane proteins. Despite the importance of membrane proteins, the impact of specific membrane lipids on membrane protein function is poorly understood and rarely considered in drug development. Understanding how changes in membrane lipid composition in disease states influences drug efficacy is an emerging challenge for the development of personalised medicines, pharmaceutical targeting, and delivery. In this seminar, I will highlight my group’s recent work using multiscale molecular dynamics simulations to unravel the interplay between membrane lipid composition, protein function, and biologically active molecules as potential therapeutics. My seminar will focus on two case studies: bacterial antibiotic resistance; and the development of allosteric modulators of neurotransmitter transporters. This work highlights the role of computational techniques in structure-based drug design and the importance of considering physiological membrane lipid distributions when characterising biological function.



Prof Megan O'Mara and her research group joined AIBN in April 2022. Megan completed her PhD in Physical Sciences at the Australian National University in 2005 before moving to the University of Calgary, Canada, to take up a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship working on membrane protein structural dynamics. Since returning to Australia in 2009, she has held positions and fellowships at both the University of Queensland and the Australian National University. In September 2019 she accepted a two-year appointment Associate Director (Education) at ANU’s Research School of Chemistry, just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic. She is an Associate Editor for RSC Advances, the Vice-President of the Association of Molecular Modellers of Australasia (AMMA) and was previously the Secretary of the Australian Society for Biophysics. Megan’s work aims to understand how membrane biochemistry influences the physical properties of the cell membrane to modulates membrane protein function and drug uptake. 


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