Novel therapeutics against multi-drug resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Exploring new treatments to tackle the drug-resistant sexually transmitted infection Gonorrhoea

Neisseria gonorrhoea is the bacteria causing the sexually transmitted infection (STI) gonorrhoea. In 2012-2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the multi-drug resistant N. gonorrhoea one of three immediate threats to public health.

This is because N. gonorrhoea has developed resistance to all major categories of antibiotics, including the last line antibiotics, third-generation cephalosporins, resulting in an increase in treatment failures.

In 2011, WHO estimated 78 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections each year were attributable to N. gonorrhoea. In men, acute urethritis and repeat infections can reduce fertility but are not life threatening. In women, it can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and increased risk of abortion.

This project aims to develop new treatments using small molecule inhibitors against a series of virulence determinants involved in development of this bacteria. Our overall goal is to design and test small molecule inhibitors against multiple virulence targets in Neisseria gonorrhoea, and we have received two funding grants from the National Health and Research Council to do this. Our research is led by the head of UWA’s Infection and Immunity Division, Associate Professor Charlene Kahler.

PhD opportunities

Research projects on this topic are available in the areas of bacterial pathogenesis and immunity.

PhD students require a bachelor’s in microbiology and immunology and an honours degree in microbiology or related disciplines, such as molecular biology, biochemistry, chemistry or genetics.

Students who have completed a master’s degree should have completed the degree within related discipline areas such as pharmacy, biotechnology, or infectious diseases.



For more information on our research, see the readings below:


Our research involves designing small molecular inhibitors, and includes experts in various fields:

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Contact Associate Professor Charlene Kahler