Dr Sam Robinson

Research Fellow

Institute for Molecular Bioscience
s.robinson@imb.uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 62011

Overview

Research Interests

  • Biopharmacology
    My research expertise is in the discovery of new plant and animal toxins and investigation of their structure, function and potential for biomedical applications. I am an expert on plants and animals that sting, and the biology, chemistry, pharmacology and pathophysiology underlying those stings. My research is providing new understanding on the mechanisms of chemical defence and predation used by animals and plants, and the new toxins I have discovered are being used as tools for improving our understanding of the human body and designing new and better treatments for certain diseases e.g. diabetes and chronic pain. My research is multidisciplinary, covering a range of scientific fields including pharmacology, neuroscience, physiology, organismal biology, medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, proteomics and structural biology. Several exciting research projects are available for outstanding prospective RHD students.

Qualifications

  • Doctor Philosophy, Monash University

Publications

  • Kazandjian, T. D., Petras, D., Robinson, S. D., van Thiel, J., Greene, H. W., Arbuckle, K., Barlow, A., Carter, D. A., Wouters, R. M., Whiteley, G., Wagstaff, S. C., Arias, A. S., Albulescu, L.-O., Plettenberg Laing, A., Hall, C., Heap, A., Penrhyn-Lowe, S., McCabe, C. V., Ainsworth, S., da Silva, R. R., Dorrestein, P. C., Richardson, M. K., Gutiérrez, J. M., Calvete, J. J., Harrison, R. A., Vetter, I., Undheim, E. A. B., Wüster, W. and Casewell, N. R. (2021). Convergent evolution of pain-inducing defensive venom components in spitting cobras. Science, 371 (6527), 386-390. doi: 10.1126/science.abb9303

  • Gilding, Edward K., Jami, Sina, Deuis, Jennifer R., Israel, Mathilde R., Harvey, Peta J., Poth, Aaron G., Rehm, Fabian B. H., Stow, Jennifer L., Robinson, Samuel D., Yap, Kuok, Brown, Darren L., Hamilton, Brett R., Andersson, David, Craik, David J., Vetter, Irina and Durek, Thomas (2020). Neurotoxic peptides from the venom of the giant Australian stinging tree. Science Advances, 6 (38) eabb8828, 1-10. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abb8828

  • Robinson, Samuel D., Mueller, Alexander, Clayton, Daniel, Starobova, Hana, Hamilton, Brett R., Payne, Richard J., Vetter, Irina, King, Glenn F. and Undheim, Eivind A. B. (2018). A comprehensive portrait of the venom of the giant red bull ant, Myrmecia gulosa, reveals a hyperdiverse hymenopteran toxin gene family. Science Advances, 4 (9) eaau4640, eaau4640. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aau4640

  • Robinson, Samuel D., Undheim, Eivind A. B., Ueberheide, Beatrix and King, Glenn F. (2017). Venom peptides as therapeutics: advances, challenges and the future of venom-peptide discovery. Expert Review of Proteomics, 14 (10), 931-939. doi: 10.1080/14789450.2017.1377613

  • Safavi-Hemami, Helena, Gajewiak, Joanna, Karanth, Santhosh, Robinson, Samuel D., Ueberheide, Beatrix, Douglass, Adam D., Schlegel, Amnon, Imperial, Julita S., Watkins, Maren, Bandyopadhyay, Pradip K., Yandell, Mark, Li, Qing, Purcell, Anthony W., Norton, Raymond S., Ellgaard, Lars and Olivera, Baldomero M. (2015). Specialized insulin is used for chemical warfare by fish-hunting cone snails. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112 (6), 1743-1748. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1423857112

  • Robinson, Samuel D., Safavi-Hemami, Helena, McIntosh, Lachlan D., Purcell, Anthony W., Norton, Raymond S. and Papenfuss, Anthony T. (2014). Diversity of conotoxin gene superfamilies in the venomous snail, Conus victoriae. PLoS One, 9 (2) e87648, e87648. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087648

View all Publications

Available Projects

  • Almost all venomous animals use their venoms for defensive purposes—many solely. Defensive stings or bites, such as those of ants, wasps, scorpions and spiders, are often associated with intense pain caused by toxins that directly target sensory neurons, hijacking or overstimulating neuronal transmission. These pain-causing toxins have the potential to be used as tools to study the nervous system and uncover new pain signalling components (i.e. ion channels and/or receptors). The focus of this project will be the discovery and characterisation of pain-causing toxins from ant venoms.

    The aims of this project will be:

    1. Discovery of novel pain-causing toxins
    2. Determine the mode of action of pain-causing toxins
    3. Use newly identified pain-causing toxins to investigate mammalian pain pathways

    Techniques learned/applied may include (but are not limited to) venom collection, fractionation and purification; transcriptomics, proteomics and mass spectrometry; peptide synthesis; ion channel electrophysiology, microscopy, and in vivo pain models.

    The identification and characterisation of new pain-causing toxins from venoms will provide new knowledge about methods of chemical defence used by venomous animals and has the potential to elucidate new components of human pain signalling. A better understanding of our pain physiology may ultimately lead to the development of new or improved pain treatments.

    The project will be completed at the UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) under the supervision of Dr. Sam Robinson, Dr. Jennifer Deuis, and Prof. Irina Vetter. UQ has a strong, internationally-focused research culture, and it is consistently ranked in the top 1% of world universities. The IMB is a leading research institute in the Asia-Pacific region and is internationally renowned for excellence in venom research (with experts in all aspects of venom biology including venom-peptide pharmacology, chemistry, structural biology, and venoms-based drug discovery) and pain research (it is home to the IMB Centre for Pain Research).

View all Available Projects

Publications

Featured Publications

  • Kazandjian, T. D., Petras, D., Robinson, S. D., van Thiel, J., Greene, H. W., Arbuckle, K., Barlow, A., Carter, D. A., Wouters, R. M., Whiteley, G., Wagstaff, S. C., Arias, A. S., Albulescu, L.-O., Plettenberg Laing, A., Hall, C., Heap, A., Penrhyn-Lowe, S., McCabe, C. V., Ainsworth, S., da Silva, R. R., Dorrestein, P. C., Richardson, M. K., Gutiérrez, J. M., Calvete, J. J., Harrison, R. A., Vetter, I., Undheim, E. A. B., Wüster, W. and Casewell, N. R. (2021). Convergent evolution of pain-inducing defensive venom components in spitting cobras. Science, 371 (6527), 386-390. doi: 10.1126/science.abb9303

  • Gilding, Edward K., Jami, Sina, Deuis, Jennifer R., Israel, Mathilde R., Harvey, Peta J., Poth, Aaron G., Rehm, Fabian B. H., Stow, Jennifer L., Robinson, Samuel D., Yap, Kuok, Brown, Darren L., Hamilton, Brett R., Andersson, David, Craik, David J., Vetter, Irina and Durek, Thomas (2020). Neurotoxic peptides from the venom of the giant Australian stinging tree. Science Advances, 6 (38) eabb8828, 1-10. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abb8828

  • Robinson, Samuel D., Mueller, Alexander, Clayton, Daniel, Starobova, Hana, Hamilton, Brett R., Payne, Richard J., Vetter, Irina, King, Glenn F. and Undheim, Eivind A. B. (2018). A comprehensive portrait of the venom of the giant red bull ant, Myrmecia gulosa, reveals a hyperdiverse hymenopteran toxin gene family. Science Advances, 4 (9) eaau4640, eaau4640. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aau4640

  • Robinson, Samuel D., Undheim, Eivind A. B., Ueberheide, Beatrix and King, Glenn F. (2017). Venom peptides as therapeutics: advances, challenges and the future of venom-peptide discovery. Expert Review of Proteomics, 14 (10), 931-939. doi: 10.1080/14789450.2017.1377613

  • Safavi-Hemami, Helena, Gajewiak, Joanna, Karanth, Santhosh, Robinson, Samuel D., Ueberheide, Beatrix, Douglass, Adam D., Schlegel, Amnon, Imperial, Julita S., Watkins, Maren, Bandyopadhyay, Pradip K., Yandell, Mark, Li, Qing, Purcell, Anthony W., Norton, Raymond S., Ellgaard, Lars and Olivera, Baldomero M. (2015). Specialized insulin is used for chemical warfare by fish-hunting cone snails. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112 (6), 1743-1748. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1423857112

  • Robinson, Samuel D., Safavi-Hemami, Helena, McIntosh, Lachlan D., Purcell, Anthony W., Norton, Raymond S. and Papenfuss, Anthony T. (2014). Diversity of conotoxin gene superfamilies in the venomous snail, Conus victoriae. PLoS One, 9 (2) e87648, e87648. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087648

Book Chapter

  • Vetter, Irina, Carter, David, Bassett, John, Deuis, Jennifer R., Tay, Bryan, Jami, Sina and Robinson, Samuel D. (2020). High-throughput fluorescence assays for ion channels and GPCRs. Calcium Signaling. (pp. 27-72) edited by Md. Shahidul Islam. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-12457-1_3

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Kazandjian, Taline, Petras, Daniel, Robinson, Sam, Undheim, Eivind, Arbuckle, Kevin, Whiteley, Gareth, Albulescu, Laura-Oana, Ainsworth, Stuart, Wagstaff, Simon, Wuster, Wolfgang, Harrison, Robert, Vetter, Irina, Calvete, Juan and Casewell, Nicholas (2020). Convergent evolution of defensive venom components in spitting cobras. In: 20th World Congress of the International Society on Toxinology, Buenos Aires, Argentina, (S37-S37). 8-13 September 2019. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2019.12.059

  • Nixon, Samantha, Agwa, Akello, Robinson, Sam, Walker, Andrew, Touchard, Axel, Schroeder, Christina, Vetter, Irina, Kotze, Andrew C., Herzig, Volker and King, Glenn F. (2020). Discovery and characterisation of novel peptides from Amazonian stinging ant venoms with antiparasitic activity. In: 20th World Congress of the International-Society-on-Toxinology, Buenos Aires, Argentina, (S60-S60). 8-13 September 2019.

Grants (Administered at UQ)

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • Almost all venomous animals use their venoms for defensive purposes—many solely. Defensive stings or bites, such as those of ants, wasps, scorpions and spiders, are often associated with intense pain caused by toxins that directly target sensory neurons, hijacking or overstimulating neuronal transmission. These pain-causing toxins have the potential to be used as tools to study the nervous system and uncover new pain signalling components (i.e. ion channels and/or receptors). The focus of this project will be the discovery and characterisation of pain-causing toxins from ant venoms.

    The aims of this project will be:

    1. Discovery of novel pain-causing toxins
    2. Determine the mode of action of pain-causing toxins
    3. Use newly identified pain-causing toxins to investigate mammalian pain pathways

    Techniques learned/applied may include (but are not limited to) venom collection, fractionation and purification; transcriptomics, proteomics and mass spectrometry; peptide synthesis; ion channel electrophysiology, microscopy, and in vivo pain models.

    The identification and characterisation of new pain-causing toxins from venoms will provide new knowledge about methods of chemical defence used by venomous animals and has the potential to elucidate new components of human pain signalling. A better understanding of our pain physiology may ultimately lead to the development of new or improved pain treatments.

    The project will be completed at the UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) under the supervision of Dr. Sam Robinson, Dr. Jennifer Deuis, and Prof. Irina Vetter. UQ has a strong, internationally-focused research culture, and it is consistently ranked in the top 1% of world universities. The IMB is a leading research institute in the Asia-Pacific region and is internationally renowned for excellence in venom research (with experts in all aspects of venom biology including venom-peptide pharmacology, chemistry, structural biology, and venoms-based drug discovery) and pain research (it is home to the IMB Centre for Pain Research).