Associate Professor Christoph Nitsche

PhD (Heidelberg, Germany), MBA (U Wales, UK), Dipl.-Chem. (Halle, Germany)
Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow
ANU College of Science
T: +61 2 6125 3821

Areas of expertise

  • Organic Chemistry 3405
  • Medicinal And Biomolecular Chemistry 3404
  • Proteins And Peptides 340407
  • Enzymes 310106


Christoph studied chemistry and business administration. He completed his PhD at Heidelberg University in 2014 for which he received the PhD prize for Medicinal Chemistry by the German Chemical Society. He received a Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to work at the Australian National University (ANU) from 2015 to 2018. After a short period as Rising Star Fellow at the Free University of Berlin, he returned to the ANU with an ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award (2019). He was appointed Senior Lecturer in 2020 and promoted to Associate Professor in 2023. He is the recipient of an ARC Future Fellowship (2022), the John Wade Early Career Researcher Award by the Australian Peptide Association (2022), the Peter Schwerdtfeger Award by the Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows (2022), the Australian Research Award as top researcher in the field of Medicinal Chemistry (2023), and the Thieme Chemistry Journals Award (2023).

Researcher's projects

Development of antiviral agents

Selective therapeutic agents are needed to combat epidemic outbreaks of neglected tropical diseases caused by viruses such as Chikungunya, dengue or Zika and pandemics like the one caused by SARS-CoV-2. Our research targets viral proteases as the Achilles heel of viral replication. We design selective probes and inhibitors that help to characterise and validate proteases as antiviral drug targets and develop lead compounds for drug discovery campaigns.

Biocompatible peptide modifications

Macrocyclic and modified peptides are considered next generation therapeutics, as they combine the properties of smaller drugs and larger antibodies. We are developing new chemical tools to cyclise and modify peptides under biocompatible conditions. This allows us to perform peptide modifications directly in presence of potential drug targets to screen for peptides with improved properties.

New technologies for drug discovery

The generation of new drug candidates requires the identification and optimisation of compounds that bind specifically to drug targets. This process is usually conducted in a multi-step linear manner. Our research aims to short-circuit the generation of such compounds by developing novel screening methods that simultaneously report the compound binding event, site and orientation on the target.

Bioorthogonal chemical reactions

Chemical ligation reactions that do not interfere with biological systems are essential to tag and probe proteins. Modern genetic engineering enables the site-specific incorporation of over 100 different unnatural amino acids. We introduce new unnatural amino acids that allow for orthogonal bioconjugation and selective protein tagging. We are also interested in reversible protein modification using the unique binding characteristics of underexplored chemical elements.

Available student projects

  • Development of antiviral agents
  • Biocompatible peptide modifications
  • New technologies for drug discovery
  • Bioorthogonal chemical reactions

Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  25 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers