Associate Professor Steven Ogbourne | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Associate Professor Steven Ogbourne

PhD (Molecular Biology) UQ., BSc (Hons) (Plant Science) UTas

  • Deputy Director, Genecology Research Centre
  • Associate Professor, Plant Biotechnology
+61 7 5456 5188
Office location
Sunshine Coast
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, LEO Pharma, 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 company LEO Pharma (who acquired Peplin in 2009), where he was intimately involved in the 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 focuses 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 sourced), 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 and threatened ecosystems. Current and previous projects have focussed on Fontainea australis, F. rostrata, F. venosa, Alectryon ramiflorus, Calyptorhynchus lathami and Delma impar in collaboration with several groups including the Burnett Mary Regional Group, Gympie Regional Council 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 and the ecosystems in which they live.

Research grants

Project Name Funding Body
QB-USC-028 (Drug discovery and product development) QBiotics
Agilent Research Collaboration Agilent Technologies Australia Pty Ltd
QBiotics HDR Scholarship QBiotics
Discovery and Development of Bioactive Natural Products isolated from Queensland’s Tropical Rainforests CSIRO; EcoBiotics
Revegetation herbicide trial - Pinbarren Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee
Threatened species and ecosystem conservation Gympie Regional Council

Research areas

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

Highlighted publications

  • Grant EL, Conroy GC, lamont RW, Reddell PW, Wallace HM and Ogbourne SM. 2019. Short distance pollen dispersal and low genetic diversity in a subcanopy tropical rainforest tree, Fontainea picrosperma (Euphorbiaceae). Heredity 123:503-516.
  • Conroy GC, Shimizu-Kimura, Lamont RW and Ogbourne SM. 2019. A multidisciplinary approach to inform assisted migration of the restricted rainforest tree, Fontainea rostrata.  PLos ONE: e0210560.
  • Tran TD, Olsson MA, Choudhury MA, McMillan DJ, Cullen JK, Parsons PG, Bernhardt PV, Reddell PW and Ogbourne SM. 2019. Antibacterial 5α-Spirostane Saponins from the Fruit of Cordyline manners-suttoniae.   Journal of Natural Products 82:2809-2817.
  • 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.
  • 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. Cancer Research 64:2833-2839.

Steven's areas of knowledge include plant biotechnology, biodiscovery, drug development, population genetics and conservation genetics.

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