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Dr. David Wilson


Dr Wilson obtained his undergraduate degree in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Melbourne. He then completed a PhD at The University of Queensland in 2001 on ‘The identification and characterisation of Australian funnel-web spider venom’. Upon completion of these studies he held a research position at Xenome Ltd, a start-up biopharmaceutical company. This work involved the identification of venom molecules from marine cone snails, spiders and scorpions with potential as therapeutics for the treatment of pain. One outcome from this work has been the development of a small cone snail venom molecule, currently undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of acute postoperative pain and chronic pain (e.g. pain associated with cancer). He has since held positions as a postdoctoral researcher investigating the use of spider venom molecules as pesticides, and a professional officer (administrative and laboratory support) at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland. In 2009 he completed a MBA at the Queensland University of Technology, concentrating on finance and entrepreneurship. He has been awarded an ARC Linkage grant and a National Breast Cancer Foundation Novel Concept grant. In January 2012, he accepted a position to manage the Advanced Proteomics and NMR Facility at the Queensland Tropical Health Alliance, James Cook University. His research interests include exploring the potential of venom molecules, particularly spiders, as novel drug leads for the treatment of diseases such as cancer.


  • Spider toxins as potential drug leads in breast cancer.
  • Funnel-web spider taxonomy through venom characterisation.
  • Venom component inheritance in tarantula venoms
  • Identification of jellyfish toxins.
  • Characterization of novel helminth peptides for treatment of inflammatory diseases.
  • Identification and characterisation of cyclic peptides from plants.


National Breast Cancer Foundation Novel Concept Grant. (2011) C.I. NL Daly; A.I.’s P Parsons, D Wilson, L Rash; $200,000 total funding over two years.

ARC Linkage Grant. (2007) C.I.’s DJ Adams, DJ Craik; P.I. D Wilson; $600,000 total funding over three years.

Awards and Honours


Key Publications

  1. Pineda S. S., Wilson D., Mattick J. S., King G. F. (2012) The lethal toxin from Australian funnel-web spiders is encoded by an intronless gene.  PLoS ONE, (in press).
  2. Wood D. L. A., Miljenovic T., Cai S., Raven R. J., Kaas Q., Escoubas P., Herzig V., Wilson D., King G. F. (2009) ArachnoServer: a database of protein toxins from spiders.  BMC Genomics, 10:375.
  3. Brust A., Palant E., Croker D. E., Colless B., Drinkwater R., Patterson B., Schroeder C. I., Wilson D., Nielsen C. K., Smith M. T., Alewood D., Alewood P. F., Lewis, R. J. (2009) Chi-conopeptide pharmacophore development: toward a novel class of norepinephrine transporter inhibitor (Xen2174) for pain. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 52, p. 6991-7002.
  4. Chong Y, Hayes J. L., Sollod B., Wen S., Wilson D. T., Hains P. G., Hodgson W. C., Broady K. W., King G. F., Nicholson G. M. (2007) The w-atracotoxins: selective blockers of insect M-LVA and HVA calcium channels.  Biochemical Pharmacology, 74(4), p. 623-638.
  5. Wilson D.*, Alewood P. F. (2006) Taxonomy of Australian Funnel-web spiders using RP-HPLC/ESI-MS profiling techniques. Toxicon 47, p. 614-627.
  6. Wen S., Wilson D. T., Kuruppu S., Korsinczky M. L., Hedrick J., Pang L., Szeto T., Hodgson W. C., Alewood P. F., and Nicholson G. M. (2005) Discovery of an MIT-like atracotoxin family: spider venom peptides that share sequence homology but not pharmacological properties with AVIT family proteins. Peptides 26, p. 2412-2426.
  7. 7. Wilson D., Alewood P. (2004) Australian Funnel-web spider venom analysed with on-line RP-HPLC techniques.  Methods in Molecular Biology – HPLC of Peptides and Proteins: Methods and Protocols, 251, p. 307-322 (Aguilar M.-I., ed.), Humana Press Inc, Totowa, NJ.
  8. Rosengren K. J., Wilson D., Daly N. L., Alewood P. F., Craik D. J. (2002) Solution structures of the cis- and trans-Pro30 isomers of a novel 38-residue toxin from the venom of Hadronyche infensa sp. that contains a cystine-knot motif within its four disulfide bonds.  Biochemistry, Mar 12, 41(10), p. 3294-3301.
  9. Graudins A., Wilson D., Alewood P. F., Broady K. W., Nicholson G. M. (2002) Cross-reactivity of Sydney funnel-web spider antivenom: neutralization of the in vitro toxicity of other Australian funnel-web (Atrax and Hadronyche) spider venoms. Toxicon, Mar, 40(3), p. 259-266.
  10. 10.  Wang X. H., Connor M., Wilson D., Wilson H. I., Nicholson G. M., Smith R., Shaw D., Mackay J. P., Alewood P. F., Christie M. J., King G. F.  (2001)  Discovery and structure of a potent and highly specific blocker of insect calcium channels.  Journal of Biological Chemistry, Oct 26, 276(43), p. 40306-40312.


Contact Information

Telephone (Australia): (07) 4042 1707                        (International): +61 7 4042 1707


Address:  Building E4, CAIRNS CAMPUS