Dr Steven Ogbourne

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Dr Steven Ogbourne

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Research areas

  • biodiscovery
  • drug development
  • natural products chemistry
  • population genetics
  • conservation genetics
  • plant reproductive biology

Profile

Dr Steven Ogbourne is an experienced research scientist with a background in plant science, molecular biology and chemistry. Biodiscovery is his current research focus following his move into the field of drug discovery as a post-doctoral researcher at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and drug development & commercialisation as an employee of the pharmaceutical companies, Peplin and LEO Pharma and a more recently as a collaborator with EcoBiotics and QBiotics.

Dr Ogbourne’s research at QIMR resulted in the identification of the natural product ingenol mebutate, which showed significant anti-cancer activity. He subsequently worked for the Australian biotechnology company, Peplin, who owned the rights to the compound and was intimately involved in all aspects of the compounds development and commercialisation. Peplin was eventually sold to LEO Pharma, where Dr Ogbourne was also employed for several years. Ingenol mebutate has now been approved for use as a topical treatment for actinic keratosis around the world. Dr Ogbourne now works closely with the Australian companies EcoBiotics and QBiotics, assisting with their discovery, development and commercialisation pipelines.

Since joining USC, Dr Ogbourne’s research focusses on biodiscovery in collaboration with other members of the university’s GeneCology Research Centre. These projects span a range of therapeutic areas including cancer, wound-healing and inflammation.

Dr Ogbourne’s most significant current research project is a collaboration with EcoBiotics and focuses on the anti-cancer drug (EBC-46). EBC-46 is extracted and purified from Fontainea picrosperma, a native tropical rainforest tree found in Far North Queensland. The research will assist EcoBiotics with domesticating the species; an important milestone that will facilitate secure supply of raw material for manufacturing of EBC-46.

Dr Ogbourne also has a passion for conservation and his team is actively involved in several conservation projects relating to threatened species of plants and animals. For example, the research team is currently involved in conservation projects on Fontainea rostrata, Alectryon ramiflorus and Delma impar in collaboration with the Burnett Mary Regional Group and Bush Heritage Australia. This research utilises population genetics, habitat modelling and plant propagation and will provide substantial conservation outcomes as well as adding to our scientific understanding of the biology and ecology of these species.

Research grants

Reducing the extinction risk of Alectryon ramiflorus. Burnett Mary Regional Group. 2016-2018.

Translocation of the striped legless lizard, Delma impar. Bush Heritage Australia. 2016-2017.

Conservation of Fontainea rostrata (Euphorbiaceae) in the Tinana Creek Catchment. Burnett Mary Regional Group. 2015-2016.

A Dingo Scat DNA-Mark-Recapture Monitoring Program to Calculate Population Size. Dept. of Science, Information Technology and Innovation. 2015-2016.

A genetic analysis of Fraser Island dingoes (Canis lupus dingo). Qld Government Biodiversity Partnership. 2015-2016.

Medicinally active compounds from stingless bee propolis. University of the Sunshine Coast. 2012-2017.

Domestication of Fontainea picrosperma. EcoBiotics. 2011-2018.

Highlighted publications

  • Lamont RW, Conroy GC, Reddell P and Ogbourne SM. Population genetic analysis of a medicinally significant Australian rainforest tree, Fontainea picrosperma C.T. White (Euphorbiaceae). BMC Plant Biology 16:57-69.

  • Ogbourne SM and Parsons PG. 2014. The value of nature's natural product library for the discovery of New Chemical Entities: The discovery of ingenol mebutate. Fitoterapia 98:36-44.

  • Cozzi SJ, Ogbourne SM, James C, Rebel HG, de Gruijl FR, Ferguson B, Gardner J, Lee TT, Larcher T, Suhrbier A. 2012 Ingenol Mebutate Field-Directed Treatment of UVB-Damaged Skin Reduces Lesion Formation and Removes Mutant p53 Patches. J. Invest. Derm. 132:1263-7.

  • Siller G, Gebauer K, Welburn P, Katsamas J, Ogbourne SM. 2009. PEP005 (ingenol mebutate) gel, a novel agent for the treatment of actinic keratosis: results of a randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled, phase IIa study. Australas. J. Dermatol. 50:16-22.

  • Ogbourne SM, Suhrbier A, Jones B, Cozzi SJ, Boyle GM, Morris M, McAlpine D, Johns J, Scott TM, Sutherland KP, Gardner JM, Le TT, Lenarczyk A, Aylward J, Parsons PG. 2004. Antitumour activity of 3-ingenyl angelate: Plasma membrane and mitochondrial disruption and necrotic cell death. Can. Res. 64:2833-2839.

Potential research projects for HDR and Honours students

Conservation genetics of the commercially significant Queensland species, Santalum lanceolatum.

Project supervisors: Dr Steven Ogbourne and A/Prof David Lee

  • Queensland sandalwood (Santalum lanceolatum R.Br.) has been commercially harvested since 1860. In the Cape York Peninsula (CYP), there was a major industry exporting sandalwood timber to China, however, this industry collapsed around 1940. The remaining trees occur in isolated stands, which are likely to comprise families or clones from root coppice and hence have limited genetic diversity. These isolated stands and are under threat from fire and grazing. This project will determine the genetic diversity and structure of this species in the CYP with the aim of developing an appropriate conservation and domestication program for the species.
  • In this project you will utilise microsatellite DNA markers and population genetics technology to assess the genetic diversity and structure of CYP Santalum lanceolatum. By undertaking this approach, the successful candidate will develop a broad technical skills base in molecular biology and genetics. The successful candidate will also have an opportunity to participate in field research to collect some of the Santalum lanceolatum material in the CYP.
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