Currently a PhD candidate in the Centre for Fragment-Based Design (CFBD), Jack Phelps has always had a strong desire to help others – and throughout his studies has found infectious diseases research to be the most interesting.

Being a member of the CFBD means many great opportunities like personal development, attending conferences and industry placement.

“I’m looking forward to gaining and sharing knowledge that could one day help people!” he says.

Research Overview

Jack is currently looking at a rational design of novel Zika protease inhibitors, using fragment-based drug discovery to design a treatment for the Zika virus – a mosquito-borne virus which has no available therapeutics or vaccinations. Targeting the crucial viral protease enzyme, Jack’s research is a mixture of medicinal chemistry and biophysical analysis, guided by structure-based design, to modify and elaborate promising chemical fragments into lead compounds.


Graduating with a Masters Degree in Chemistry for Drug Discovery from the University of Bath, UK, Jack’s undergraduate studies included a one year industry placement in a research laboratory in Adelaide and a Master’s project in his final year.

“I loved working in a lab during my Master’s project, and wanted to go on to work pharmaceutical/medicinal chemistry research – but didn’t want to work for big pharma. A PhD was the perfect opportunity to work on a project that I was passionate about,” says Jack.

Inspired by his tutor at the University of Bath who had travelled and worked overseas extensively, Jack was keen to look at options beyond the UK. This led him to pursue his PhD here in the CFBD in Melbourne.