Dr Wilson obtained his undergraduate degree in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Melbourne, with Honours in physical chemisty. 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 was the development of a small cone snail venom molecule to 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 as 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 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.

  • Identification and characterisation of novel Australian funnel-web spider venom components.
  • The use of venom composition "fingerprints" as taxonomic tools.
  • Behaviour and personality in Australian funnel-web spiders.
  • Identification and characterisation of novel scorpion venom components.
  • Venom regeneration and plasticity in scorpions.
  • Identification and characterisation of novel venom components from cone snails.
  • Peptide and protein folding and structure.
  • Novel venom component identification and characterisation.
  • 2012 to 2020 - Senior Laboratory and Technical Support Specialist, Jame Cook University (Cairns, QLD, Australia)
  • 2009 to 2011 - Administrative Assistant (Research), University of Queensland (Brisbane, QLD, Australia)
  • 2007 to 2009 - Senior Research Officer, University of Queensland (Brisbane, QLD, Australia)
  • 2001 to 2009 - Research Officer/Manager and IT Manager, Xenome Ltd (Brisbane, QLD, Australia)
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2023 - Advisory Panel Member of the Year 2023
  • 2020 - CMT Researcher Grant
  • 2016 to 2017 - AITHM Capacity Building Grant.
  • 2011 to 2013 - National Breast Cancer Foundation Novel Concept Grant.
  • 2007 to 2010 - ARC Linkage Grant - New modulators of voltage-gated sodium channel subtypes from Australian Tarantula venoms.

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 65+ research outputs authored by Dr David Wilson from 1996 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Development of a novel wound healing agent

Indicative Funding
$24,249 over 1 year
Ancient traditional medicines, while often not mechanistically well characterised, can be incredibly useful in directing the development of new therapeutics and treatments. Inspired by traditional remedies for wound healing, our Cairns based team (Daly, Widi, Wilson and Smout) has shown that two plant-derived glycosides can act synergistically to promote fibroblast cell proliferation. This in vitro bioactivity correlates strongly with potent in vivo activity in a mouse model of wound healing based on our previous studies with an unrelated parasite-derived peptide. Our research question is whether glycosides acting synergistically can be used in the design of a novel wound healing treatment, and we now aim to carry out in vivo studies on our plant-derived compounds to begin to answer this question.
Norelle Daly, Antin Widi, David Wilson and Michael Smout (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and Research Infrastructure)
Wound healing; NMR spectroscopy; Chromatography; Plant extracts

Seqirus (CSL) - Contract Research

Australian Funnel-web spider venom analysis.

Indicative Funding
$35,000 over 2 years
The aims of the project are to consult and analyse samples associated the Australian Funnel-web spider (FWS) antivenom production program at Seqirus. Venom samples from wild-caught and captive-bred Australian Funnel-web spiders at the Australian Reptile Park will be analysed using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry to monitor the presence of the lethal toxin in the venom, delta-ACTX-Ar1a. The expected outcomes are that the information obtained from the venom analyses will increase the production and supply of venom to Seqirus. The significance of the project is Seqirus, the only manufacturer of FWS antivenom worldwide, will improve their FWS antivenom production program.
David Wilson in collaboration with Linda Hernandez Duran (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine and College of Science & Engineering)
Atrax robustus; Antivenom; Venom; Toxin; Sydney Funnel-web spider

North Queensland Wildlife Trust - Grant - Research Support

Fluorescent fur remote camera field experiment

Indicative Funding
$3,696 over 1 year
Aims: To determine if fur fluorescence can be excited by natural light and detected by nocturnal vertebrates. Outcomes: If wild animals interact consistently more often with one fur type during full moons, it will change the way we think about how nocturnal animals use light. If animals cannot detect fluorescence, the outcome will negate the need for further testing of a visual function. Significance: Using real fluorescent fur pelts in natural lighting is a world-first in discovering if nocturnal vertebrates use fluorescence as a visual cue. The result will determine if fluorescence becomes visible in different terrestrial lighting conditions
Linda Reinhold, Tasmin Rymer, David Wilson and Kristopher Helgen (College of Science & Engineering, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine and Australian Museum Research Institute)
Mammals; Fluorescence; Camera trapping

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Box-Jellyfish derived cyclic-glutamic-acid effect on primary afferent neurons and mast cells

Indicative Funding
$5,000 over 1 year
Box Jellyfish envenomation (Chironex flecken) results in severe pain, inflammation and cardiovascular distress. Current treatment includes first aid and analgesia. The mechanism of action the venom induces on human physiology is poorly understood. Using analytical chemistry separation techniques, my lab and I have isolated small novel molecules from C.felckeri venom, cyclic-glutamic acids. Glutamate interacts with nociceptive receptors in the primary afferant neurons, and upregulates cytokines and chemokines response in immune cells. This research aims to identify if venom derived glutamic induces an immune resposne from neuronal cells and mast cells.
Melissa Piontek and David Wilson (College of Medicine & Dentistry and Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Chironex fleckeri; Primary afferents; Small Molecules; Immune Response; Mast Cells; Degranulation

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Structure and Function of Novel Peptides from Cone Snail Venom (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Development of Anti-Inflammatory Peptides (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Venomic Ecology in Cubozoans (Box Jellyfish) (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • C. Fleckeri Mode of Action Investigation (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • The role of ?Daun Patah Tulang? (Euphorbia tirucalli) as a traditional remedy for healing (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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