Dr Christoph Nitsche

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


Christoph studied chemistry and business administration. He obtained his PhD from Heidelberg University on the development of anti-infectives against dengue virus in 2014, for which he was awarded the PhD prize for medicinal chemistry by the German Chemical Society (2015). He has since worked as a Feodor Lynen Fellow (Alexander von Humboldt Foundation) at the Australian National University (2015–2018) and as a Rising Star Fellow at the Free University of Berlin (2018–2019). In 2019, he received a Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) from the Australian Research Council to start his independent research endeavours on medicinal chemistry and bioconjugation at the Research School of Chemistry at the ANU, where he was appointed Senior Lecturer in 2020.

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:  02 March 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers