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Bioinorganic Synthesis and Imaging

Advancing knowledge in biology and improving health, by synthesising fluorescent and luminescent molecules and developing improved filtration devices. Our group is especially focused on developing theranostic agents for cancer and metabolic diseases.

Our mission

Our group has two missions:

  1. Further our knowledge of biology by developing molecules that allow researchers to visualize biological processes and drug interactions in real time. This will further the understanding of the pathophysiology of major disease states and develop enhanced diagnostic and therapeutic agents.
  2. Develop solutions that will reduce the presence of cancer-causing chemicals in our water to help address the global challenge of providing clean water.

Our research

Our interdisciplinary research involves using synthetic organic and inorganic chemistry to develop new fluorescent and luminescent molecules whose interactions (lipid binding) or function (anticancer, antimicrobial activity) within the cell is characterised using a variety of advanced imaging techniques. We also leverage our expertise in chemistry and the understanding of small molecular interactions to deliver innovative solutions to water remediation that eliminate the presence of cancer-causing chemicals in water. We work directly with industry partners to develop new compounds and generate solutions for industry. The groups research activities can be classified into 4 main areas:

  1. Developing long-lived stable luminescent molecules capable of targeting, tracking and/or reporting on events in live cells and in high throughput screening applications
  2. Designing molecules capable of theranostic activity through introduction of luminescent metals
  3. Exploring new classes of antimicrobials to help in the fight of resistance
  4. Improving water quality through advanced materials

Research Outputs

Our people

Group Leader:
Associate Professor Sally Plush

Dr Martin Sweetman, SIEF STEM+ Business Fellow
Dr Shane Hickey – collaborator

PhD Students:
Daniel Pincher
Samuel Nitschke
Candace Day


Our research team collaborates across a range of national and international institutions, and we have very strong links with industry:

Academic Collaborators:

Professor Janna Morrison, University of South Australia

Professor Peter Hoffman, University of South Australia

Professor Peter Lay, University of Sydney

Associate Professor Massimilio Massi, Curtin University

Associate Professor Hugh Harris,Curtin University

Dr Justin Chalker, Flinders University

Dr Stefano Stagni, University of Bologna

Dr Xun Li, Shandong University

Industry Partners

Mr Geoff Thomas, ReZolve Scientific, a successful spin out company from UniSA with A/Prof Plush as co-founder

Mr Steve May, Puratap CEO