Dr Michael Smout obtained his BSc from the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, Australia and his PhD from UQ/Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR).  His research interests have included melanoma, childhood viral infections and most recently parasitic helminths of humans. His expertise focus is the proteins secreted by parasitic helminths and those that facilitate their parasitic existence. His work has taken him to a range of locations, including 2 years at George Washington University working with the Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation before relocating back to Queensland in 2004.  For the past decade Dr Smout’s research has focused primarily on the search for carcinogenic molecules from the secretions of the human liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrinni - one of only three carcinogenic eukaryotic pathogens. His major scientific achievements include firstly, the identification of the parasite-derived growth factor, granulin, a protein that supercharges wound healing but establishes a tumorigenic environment in the liver of infected patients.  Secondly, the creation of the xWORM assay, a novel objective parasitic worm viability monitoring method.  This method is a vital step when screening for new drug treatments or drug resistance in a range of devastating parasitic worms. 

 With a creative flair for presenting he has won a range of science and general public presentation events since his northern migration to the Queensland Tropical Health Alliance laboratories at James Cook University in Cairns.  At a national level he won the “best pitch” in the 2012 Australian Trailblazer innovation competition and the 2014 Australian Famelab public presentation competition with 3 minutes that included eviscerating a teddy bear.  This led to representing Australia at the International Famelab in the United Kingdom.   His new position in Northern Australia has allowed his love of parasitic worm venom to now include anything tropical and toxic, including scorpions, stonefish and the world’s most venomous creature, the Australian sea wasp, also known as the big box jelly(fish).


Google Scholar ID: https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=XkWJ1DQAAAAJ&hl=en

 ORCHID ID: orcid.org/0000-0001-6937-0112

 Research web: https://research.jcu.edu.au/portfolio/michael.smout


  • parasite growth factors
  • Thai Liver Fluke (Opisthorchis viverrini)
  • cancerous transformation
  • wound healing
  • Liver cancer (cholangiocarcinoma - bile duct cancer)
  • Protein purification
  • Box jellyfish Toxins
  • Cardiac toxins
  • Real time cell analysis
  • parasite worm motility monitoring
  • venom
  • Australian animal venom
  • sea snake venom
  • scorpion venom
  • stonefish venom
  • new anti-parasitic treatments
  • 2010 to present - Postdoctoral Researcher, James Cook University (Cairns)
  • 2005 to 2009 - PhD Student, Queensland Institute of Medical Research (Brisbane)
  • 2000 to 2006 - Research Assistant, Queensland Institute of Medical Research (Brisbane)
  • 2002 to 2003 - Research Assistant, George Washington University Medical Centre (Washington DC, USA)
  • 1999 to 2000 - Research Assistant, Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Centre (Brisbane)
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2018 - Reperio commercialization competition (JCU) crowd voted “People’s Choice” and judges voted “2nd Place”
  • 2018 - Australian Society of Medical Research Mid-Career Research (ASMR-MCR) award
  • 2018 - International Congress of Parasitology (ICOPA) Poster award
  • 2017 - Johnson and Johnson Innovation Quickfire “Singapore metabolic diseases” finalist
  • 2016 - Rising Star Early Career award (James Cook University - JCU)
  • 2016 - Early Career Researcher (ECR) invited speaker award - Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM)
  • 2015 to 2016 - Far North Queensland Hospital large research grant
  • 2015 - Queensland Science and Inspiring Australia: Rising star of Queensland Science 2015
  • 2014 - Reperio (Innovation pitching competition) winner
  • 2014 - Faculty research Grant Scheme
  • 2014 - Centre for Biodiscovery and Molecular Development of Therapeutics ECR seed funding
  • 2014 - ACEA research travel award
  • 2014 - FameLab Australian Winner
  • 2014 - National representative in FameLab International
  • 2013 - Far North Queensland Hospital small research grant
  • 2013 - American Society of Tropical Medicine and Health Young Investigator Presentation Award
  • 2013 - American Society of Tropical Medicine and Health (ASTMH) Travel award
  • 2012 to 2013 - Centre for Biodiscovery and Molecular Development of Therapeutics ECR award
  • 2012 - “My Research in 3 minutes” Early Career Researcher School winner
  • 2012 - Trailblazer James Cook University (JCU) finals “Best Pitch” winner
  • 2012 - Trailblazer (Uniquest Innovation Awards) Australian Grand Finals “Best Pitch” winner
  • 2012 - ASP Early Career Researcher Presentation Award
  • 2011 - Trailblazer JCU finalist
  • 2010 - University of Queensland PhD thesis Dean’s award nomination
  • 2010 - Australian Society of Medical Research (ASMR) Premier awards student finalist
  • 2009 - ASMR Premier awards student finalist High Commendation
  • 2008 - ASMR Student Oral finalist
  • 2005 to 2008 - Dora Lush NHMRC PhD scholarship
  • 2007 - Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) Student Oral finalist
  • 2007 - Pall Published Paper Award
  • 2006 - ASP Student Poster Prize
  • 2005 - QIMR Student Oral finalist
  • 2012 - Australian Society for Parasitology (ASP) Researcher Exchange Fellowship
  • 2013 - American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH)
  • 2005 - The Australian Society for Medical Research
  • 2005 - Australian Society for Parasitology Member
  • 2007 to 2010 - American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 2017 - “Frontiers in Medicine” Review Editor

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 58+ research outputs authored by Dr Michael Smout from 2002 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

National Institute of Health - RO1

Carcinogenic liver fluke infection: Gene editing- and vaccination-mediated approaches to interrupt host-parasite communication

Indicative Funding
$825,674 over 5 years (administered by George Washington University)
Long term infection with liver fluke - a food-borne parasitic worm - leads to cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), a form of liver cancer with a dismal prognosis. Previously we identified proteins and vesicles from these parasites that may cause this cancer. This new project will investigate the roles of these parasite proteins and vesicles in cancer, which may lead to new treatments and control for fluke infection and CCA.
Alex Loukas, Michael Smout and Javier Sotillo-Gallego (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Cancer; Infectious disease; Parasite; CRISPR/Cas9; Vaccines

Merchant Charitable Foundation - Donation

Pre-clinical development of a liver fluke growth factor for treating non-healing wounds

Indicative Funding
$450,000 over 3 years
This research proposal aims to develop more effective treatments for wound healing, improving treatment options for diabetic patients in Australia and eventually worldwide. This is likely to alleviate suffering from the disease and also decrease the AUD$3.6 billion financial burden of diabetic wound ulcers on the healthcare system. Although we showed that the liver fluke granulin protein has wound healing properties, it is difficult to produce in recombinant form. We have now developed a minimized version of granulin and produce it as a synthetic peptide that when applied topically displays wound-healing properties as potent as the full-length protein. Using the peptide as a topical agent is ideal because it capitalizes on the potency and specificity often associated with peptide-based drugs but does not require the high levels of bioavailability necessary for orally administered drugs. Our research will also provide advances in the field regarding the structure and folding of Ov-GRN-1, which will be of significant interest to researchers working specifically on growth factors and more broadly for those working on disulphide-rich peptides and proteins. Moreover, we believe that our decision to be guided in drug discovery by millennia of host-parasite coevolution will ensure that the most efficacious and safe drugs are identified and developed.
Alex Loukas, Michael Smout, Norelle Daly and Paramjit Bansal (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Liver Fluke; Growth Factor; Wound Repair; Therapeutics; Diabetes

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.

  • The Structure and Function of Ichthyocrinotoxins in Stone Fish and it's possible Application as an Anti-Helminth Treatment (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • The role of ?Daun Patah Tulang? (Euphorbia tirucalli) as a traditional remedy for healing (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • C. Fleckeri Mode of Action Investigation (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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  • E4.103, Queensland Tropical Health Alliance (Cairns campus)
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