A/Prof Guillaume Lessene

A/Prof Guillaume Lessene jointly heads the ACRF Chemical Biology Division at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. The division assembles expertise in medicinal chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology; and applies chemical biology approaches to validating therapeutic targets, and elucidating the biological pathways that drive disease.

A/Prof Lessene trained as an organic chemist, completing his PhD at the University of Bordeaux, before undertaking postdoctoral work with Prof Feldman at Penn State. Since moving to WEHI in 2003, his major research focus has been developing small molecules that target the apoptotic and necroptotic cell death pathways.

His work on targeting the Bcl-2 family proteins for cancer therapy formed the basis of a major collaboration between WEHI and two biopharmaceuticals, Genentech and AbbVie. Moreover, his ground breaking work developing a potent and selective inhibitor of the Bcl-2 protein, Bcl-x, has been recognised by the RACI and WEHI; where he was awarded the Biota Award in 2009, the Burnet Prize in 2013 and the inaugural Sir John Dixon Hughes Medal for Medical Research Innovation from the NFMRI. This research has also afforded a number of licenced patents, and publications in high impact journals like Nature Chemical Biology.


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