As a structural biologist, I study the structure of proteins at atomic resolution.

By solving the structure of a protein, we learn how the protein functions, its role in disease processes, and how we might modulate it through structure-guided drug design. This makes structural biology an incredibly useful tool in almost all biological fields.

My current research centres on the structure of proteins known to play an important role in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. One of our most exciting studies is investigating the structure of proteins presented at the surface of microglia, the brain’s immune cells. We are now developing molecules that can target these proteins to improve the ability of microglia to clear the neurotoxic protein aggregates that underpin Alzheimer’s disease.

My work provides opportunities to collaborate with other excellent research teams in Melbourne and beyond. Currently, I collaborate with groups that focus on cancer research, developing new inhibitors that target the proteins controlling gene expression within cancerous cells.

Key achievements

2011   Lorne Conference on Protein Structure and Function, Poster Award

2010   Maurice Wilkins Centre 3-min Thesis Presentation, First Place Award

2009   University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship

2008   University of Auckland Masters/Honours/PG Dip Scholarship; Biomedical Science Honours Research Symposium Oral Presentation Award

2007   Senior Prize in Biological Sciences


Selected publications

Baell J.B., Leaver D.J., Hermans S.J., Kelly G.L., Brennan M.S., Downer N.L., Nguyen N., Wichmann J., McRae H.M., Yang Y., Cleary B., Lagiakos H.R., Mieruszynski S., Pacini G., Vanyai H.K., Bergamasco M.I., May R.E., Davey B.K., Morgan K.J., Sealey A.J., Wang B., Zamudio N., Wilcox S., Garnham A.L., Sheikh B.N., Aubrey B.J., Doggett K., Chung M.C., de Silva M., Bentley J., Pilling P., Hattarki M., Dolezal O., Dennis M.L., Falk H., Ren B., Charman S.A., White K.L., Rautela J., Newbold A., Hawkins E.D., Johnstone R.W., Huntington N.D., Peat T.S., Heath J.K., Strasser A., Parker M.W., Smyth G.K., Street I.P., Monahan B.J., Voss A.K., Thomas T., Inhibitors of histone acetyltransferases KAT6A/B induce senescence and arrest tumour growth, Nature, 2018, 560(7717), pp. 253–257. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0387-5

Hermans S.J., Nero T.L., Morton C.J., Gooi J.H., Crespi G.A.N., Hancock N.C., Gao C., Ishii K., Markulić J., Parker M.W., Structural biology of cell surface receptors implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, Biophysical Reviews, 2022, 14(1), pp. 233–255. DOI: 10.1007/s12551-021-00903-9

Crespi G.A., Hermans S.J., Parker M.W., Miles L.A., Molecular basis for mid-region amyloid-β capture by leading Alzheimer’s disease immunotherapies, Scientific Reports, 2015, 5, 9649. DOI: 10.1038/srep09649

Miles L.A., Hermans S.J., Crespi G.A.N., Gooi J.H., Doughty L., Nero T.L., Markulić J., Ebneth A., Wroblowski B., Oehlrich D., Trabanco A.A., Rives M.L., Royaux I., Hancock N.C., Parker M.W., Small Molecule Binding to Alzheimer Risk Factor CD33 Promotes Aβ Phagocytosis, iScience, 2019, 19, pp. 110–118. DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2019.07.023

Hermans, S.J., Ascher, D.B., Hancock, N.C., Holien J.K., Michell B.J., Chai S.Y., Morton, C.J., Parker, M.W., Crystal structure of human insulin-regulated aminopeptidase with specificity for cyclic peptides, Protein Science, 2015, 24(2), pp. 190–199. DOI: 10.1002/pro.2604

Wong S.W., Vivash L., Mudududdla R., Nguyen N., Hermans S.J., Shackleford D.M., Field J., Xue L., Aprico A., Hancock N.C., Haskali M., Stashko M.A., Frye S.V., Wang X., Binder M.D., Ackermann U., Parker M.W., Kilpatrick T.J., Baell J.B., Development of [18F]MIPS15692, a radiotracer with in vitro proof-of-concept for the imaging of MER tyrosine kinase (MERTK) in neuroinflammatory disease, European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 2021, 226, 113822. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2021.113822