Professor Mark Schembri


School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
Faculty of Science
+61 7 336 54874
+61 7 336 53306


Professor Mark Schembri is a prominent microbiologist with experience in combating the global health crisis presented by multi-drug resistant pathogens. Professor Schembri’s expertise on the virulence of bacterial pathogens and his innovative analysis of biofilm formation aims to improve the outcomes of the >150 million individuals that suffer from urinary tract infections each year across the globe.

Through the application of genetic, genomic and functional studies on uropathogenic E. coli, Professor Schembri has identified targets to reduce the virulence of this pathogen, and will pursue the development of life-saving therapeutic and preventative advances with the assistance of an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship. Professor Schembri has tracked the rapid emergence and global spread of a virulent, drug-resistant E. coli clone and used genome sequencing to understand its evolution and virulence.

Links: Professor Schembri collaborates with national and international research leaders, including in Denmark, where he was a lecturer. Professor Schembri has strong links with other international experts in his field, including at the Pasteur Institute and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge. His research collaborations also span lead groups at UQ and other top Australian institutes, including Griffith and La Trobe Universities.

Membership, Funding and patents: Since 2011, Professor Schembri has been awarded over $6 million in funding from competitive national research funding councils. He holds provisional patents for the development of novel therapeutic agents and vaccine antigens. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, and is regularly invited to speak at international conferences in his field.

Awards and Communication: Professor Schembri was the recipient of the Frank Fenner Award (2010) for his outstanding original research contribution to the study of Infectious Disease. He was an Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2011-2015) and currently holds a National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellowship. Professor Schembri is the author of >170 peer-reviewed research manuscripts.

Research Impacts

Professor Schembri’s outstanding original work in the field of infectious disease and multi-drug resistant pathogens has led to several key advances in the fight to reduce the prevalence and improve outcomes of urinary tract infections.

Key research outputs: The genomic epidemiology of a multi-drug resistant E. coli clone allowed its origin and dissemination to be mapped on a global scale. Recent work in Professor Schembri’s group has defined the virulence of this pathogen using advanced genetic, transcriptomic and proteomic methods in conjunction with a mouse model of infection. He has also led the use of new treatments to prevent infection by this multi-drug resistant pathogen.

Key capabilities: Professor Schembri has deep expertise in microbiology, with particular capability in the high-throughput modelling of drug-resistant biofilms, the study of Gram-negative bacteria, and the application of forefront technologies to examine virulence, genomic epidemiology, host-pathogen interactions and novel strategies for the treatment/prevention of infectious diseases.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Monash University


  • Djoko, Karrera Y, Achard, Maud E S, Phan, Minh-Duy, Lo, Alvin W, Miraula, Manfredi, Prombhul, Sasiprapa, Hancock, Steven J, Peters, Kate M, Sidjabat, Hanna, Harris, Patrick N, Mitić, Nataša, Walsh, Timothy R, Anderson, Gregory J, Shafer, William M, Paterson, David L, Schenk, Gerhard, McEwan, Alastair G and Schembri, Mark A (2017) Copper ions and coordination complexes as novel carbapenem adjuvants. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy, . doi:10.1128/AAC.02280-17

  • Goh, Kelvin G. K., Phan, Minh-Duy, Forde, Brian M., Chong, Teik Min, Yin, Wai-Fong, Chan, Kok-Gan, Ulett, Glen C., Sweet, Matthew J., Beatson, Scott A. and Schembri, Mark A. (2017) Genome-wide discovery of genes required for capsule production by uropathogenic Escherichia coli. MBio, 8 5: . doi:10.1128/mBio.01558-17

  • Phan, Minh-Duy, Nhu, Nguyen Thi Khanh, Achard, Maud E. S., Forde, Brian M., Hong, Kar Wai, Chong, Teik Min, Yin, Wai-Fong, Chan, Kok-Gan, West, Nicholas P., Walker, Mark J., Paterson, David L., Beatson, Scott A. and Schembri, Mark A. (2017) Modifications in the pmrB gene are the primary mechanism for the development of chromosomally encoded resistance to polymyxins in uropathogenic Escherichia coli. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 72 10: 2729-2736. doi:10.1093/jac/dkx204

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PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Joint Principal Advisor

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  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

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  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

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Completed Supervision