Dr Michael Gotsbacher is an expert in analysis of biomolecules, with a strong focus on mass spectrometry-based methods and with a background in synthetic organic chemistry. Since 2014 he has worked at the School of Medical Sciences (Pharmacology), University of Sydney. At the time, he joined Prof. Rachel Codd’s Chemical Biology in Drug Discovery group as a postdoctoral research fellow, and presently a Research Fellow. Prior to joining University of Sydney, he worked as project chemist in a NATA-accredited lab generating Good Laboratory Practice-conform analyses and reports, gaining expertise in rigorous quantification of small molecule metabolites.
Michael’s research sits at the interface of synthetic and analytical chemistry and medicine. He has a deep interest in investigating molecular mechanisms, with a special focus on bioactive natural products with hitherto unknown modes of action. Michael has published in top-tier journals in the field of chemical biology and medicinal chemistry, such as ACS Chemical Biology, ChemBioChem, and Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. His three most recent first-author publications have been featured on the front cover of the respective journal – indicative of the high quality and novelty of his work. He pioneered a mass spectrometry (MS)-fragmentation technique to unambiguously identify native and non-native isomers of bacterial metabolites; and he is currently developing a MS-based imaging method to visualise drug candidates in post-mortem Parkinsonian brain to elucidate tissue-specific spatial distribution and thus better understand their mode of action.
In 2020, RACI NSW Branch awarded him the Archibald D. Ollé Award for his 2019 paper “Reverse Chemical Proteomics Identifies an Unanticipated Human Target of the Antimalarial Artesunate” published in ACS Chemical Biology (DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.8b01004). In this work, he used an unbiased phage display assay to identify the human protein target in cancer cells for artesunate, an antimalarial natural product which also has high potential as an anticancer agent. Michael identified the Bcl2-associated death promoter (BAD) as the target in human cancer cells, which was later validated by collaborators from Yonsei University, Seoul. This manuscript provides a rationale that well explains the bioactivity and selectivity of the compounds towards cancer cells.