Dr Steven Ogbourne

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Dr Steven Ogbourne


EcoBiotics Senior Research Fellow, Plant Biotechnology

PhD Qld., BSc (Hons) (Plant Science) Tas., BSc (Hons) (Biochemistry) Tas.

+61 7 5456 5188
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Dr Steven Ogbourne


Dr Steven Ogbourne is an experienced research scientist with a background in drug discovery and drug development with a strong focus in research areas including plant science, molecular biology and natural products 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 with the pharmaceutical companies, Peplin and LEO Pharma and a more recently 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 worked for the Australian biotechnology company, Peplin (who owned the rights to the compound) and later the international dermatology compnay LEO Pharma (who acquired Peplin in 2009), where he was intimately involved in drugs development. Ingenol mebutate has now been approved for use as a topical treatment for actinic keratosis around the world.

Since joining USC, Dr Ogbourne’s research focusses on biodiscovery in collaboration with other members of the University’s GeneCology Research Centre and the Australian companies EcoBiotics and QBiotics. Dr Ogbourne's biodiscovery research spans a range of therapeutic areas including cancer, anti-microbials and wound-healing.

Dr Ogbourne’s most significant current research projects are in collaboration with EcoBiotics and QBiotics, focusing on the anti-cancer drug EBC-46 and domestication of Fontainea picrosperma (the native tropical rainforest tree from which EBC-46 is isolated), as well as the discovery of natural product anti-microbial drug candidates. Dr Ogbourne also has a passion for conservation and his team is actively involved in several projects relating to the conservation of threatened species of plants and animals. Current and previous projects have focussed on Fontainea australis, F. rostrata, Alectryon ramiflorus, Calyptorhynchus lathami and Delma impar in collaboration with several groups including the Burnett Mary Regional Group and Bush Heritage Australia. This research will provide substantial conservation outcomes as well as adding to our scientific understanding of the biology and ecology of these important species.

Current research grants

  • Discovery of anti-microbial natural products from Queensland's tropical rainforest. EcoBiotics. 2017-2021.
  • Domestication of Fontainea picrosperma. EcoBiotics. 2011-2021.
  • Increasing yield and quality in tropical horticulture with better pollination, fruit retention and nutrient distribution. Horticulture Innovation Australia. 2017-2022.
  • Alternative Herbicides for Revegetation. Mary River Catchment Coordination Committee. 2017-2020.
  • Discovery and Development of Bioactive Natural Products isolated from Queensland’s Tropical Rainforests. CSIRO. 2017-2020.
  • Medicinally active compounds from stingless bee propolis. University of the Sunshine Coast. 2012-ongoing.

Highlighted publications

  • Lamont RW, Conroy GC, Reddell P and Ogbourne SM. 2016. 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.

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