Associate Professor Michael Landsberg

Associate Professor

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
Faculty of Science

Affiliate Research Fellow

Institute for Molecular Bioscience
+61 7 336 53756


A/Prof Landsberg's undergraudate and Honours studies, majoring in Chemistry, were completed at Central Queensland University and the CSIRO (JM Rendel laboratories) before he moved to the University of Queensland to study a PhD in Biochemistry (awarded 2003). He then moved to a postdoctoral position at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, spending time as a Visiting Scientist at Harvard Medical School (2008) and securing promotion to Senior Research Officer upon his return to IMB in 2009. He additioanlly spent time as a Visiting Scientist at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in 2010 and 2011.

In 2016, he joined UQ's School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences as a Group Leader in Cryo-EM and Macromolecular Structure and Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry and Biophysics, where he was promoted to Associate Professor in 2019. He has secured >$13.5M in competitive research funding since 2012, including major grants from the Australian Research Council and National Health and Medical Research Council. He his research has been presented at over 70 national and international conferences and research institutions.

Research Interests

  • Single particle electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) of molecular machines
    Structural biology has been largely founded on techniques developed and refined over the past 60+ years that involve measuring X-ray diffraction from protein crystals and relating to this to chemical structure. But structural biology is currently in the midst of a revolutionised, catalysed by recent advances in electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) which now allow protein and macromolecular structures to be studied in near-atomic detail, without the need to first obtain protein crystals. Freed from the challenging pre-requisite to first obtain protein crystals, this recent development has paved the way for structural characterisation of a number of classes of challenging macromolecules, including membrane proteins, and multi-component protein and nucleic acid complexes. In our lab, we primarily employ cryo-EM as tool to study macromolecular structures from both of these groups.
  • Molecular mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis
    We have a particular interest in understanding fundamental mechanisms that enable infection by viruses and pathogenic bacteria, and that contribute to virulence associated with these infectious processes. Using cryo-EM, we study the structure in near-atomic details of molecules that are important in these processes. Examples include bacterial toxins belonging to A5BC class of pore-forming toxins and enveloped viruses (e.g. HIV, Ebola) that are dependent on the ESCRT machinery.

Research Impacts

The arrival of the 'genomic era' at the start of the 21st century brought with it unprecedented capabilities to identify the genes and proteins that are linked to human diseases. But in the current, post-genomic era, it has become increasingly clear that a list of genes involved in disease is not enough. Genes and the proteins they encode rarely act in isolation; rather they form networks of interactions with proteins and other molecules. In order to understand how proteins maintain normal cellular function, how disfunctional proteins contribute to illness and disease, and to harness the potential of proteins to be used and targeted for health and biotechnological advancement, it is critical that we obtain a full appreciation of how proteins come together and interact, and how this translates to specifc functional consequences.

Dr Landsberg's research reflects a particular interest in a number of biological phenomena that are the result of proteins and other molecules coming together to function as multi-component molecular machineries. Together with colleagues, he discovered how a new family of bacterial pore-forming protein toxins are assembled into a multi-functional protein machinery that combines maturation, folding, transportation, targeting and injection of a potent cytotoxin into susceptible cells. These toxins were originally discovered in bateria that are naturally-occuring pathogens of insects and our discoveries have helped to guide strategies which might prove useful in the development of new biopesticides based on pore-forming toxins. His research interests also include manipulating the function of these proteins for other biotechnological applications that benefit from the targeted delivery of proteins and peptides to cells. Dr Landsberg also seeks to understand the role of multi-component protein machineries in endosomal protein trafficking, virus infection, immune signalling, the maintenance of genomic DNA structure, nucleoside biosynthesis and the movement of ions and small molecules across cellular membranes as facilitated by ion channel proteins. An improved understanding of these processes has the potential to do deliver impacts for the treatment of infectious diseases associated with pathogenic bacteria and viruses (e.g. HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Dengue and Zika viruses); various cancers; diseases of inflammation and immunity (e.g. arthrititis and auto-immune diseases) and the prevention of ischaemia following stroke.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Honours), C.Qld.


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