The cell membrane has long been viewed as a simplified barrier or matrix that supports the function of membrane proteins. Despite this, the lipids that make up the central component of the cell membranes have enormous chemical diversity, with hundreds to thousands of individual lipid species present in a single membrane. The modulation of membrane proteins by membrane lipids is recognised as an emerging challenge in our understanding protein function, is still poorly understood. Multiscale molecular dynamics simulations provide an accessible method for investigating real time lipid-lipid and protein-lipid interactions at molecular resolution. However, realistic membranes with a physiological distribution of lipids species pose specific challenges in both their experimental characterisation and in simulation. 

This talk will highlight our recent work in understanding the role of lipid chemical diversity in complex tissue-specific mammalian and bacterial membranes. I will discuss the effect of lipid modifications on membrane properties and membrane protein function, the development of lipid-based compounds as novel drug leads for the treatment of neuropathic pain, and the role of lipid modifications in restoring sensitivity to antimicrobials in bacterial infections.


Megan O’Mara is an Associate Professor at the Research School of Chemistry, Australian National University. Her group uses multiscale modelling techniques to understand the interplay between the membrane chemical environment and the modulation of membrane transporter and multidrug efflux pump function. Megan completed her PhD in biophysics at the Australian National University in 2005 modelling ion channel permeation, before moving to the University of Calgary, Canada, to take up a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship working on ABC transporter structural dynamics. In 2009, she returned to Australia to join University of Queensland’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences as a UQ Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof Alan Mark, before commencing an ARC DECRA in 2012 to her computational work on membrane protein dynamics. Megan joined the  Research School of Chemistry, Australian National University in 2015 as a group leader and Rita Cornforth Fellow.

About School research seminars

Seminars cover all aspects of chemistry and molecular biosciences and are delivered by visiting national and international academics. PhD completion seminars are also incorporated into the program.

Seminars are usually held in person and via zoom. All are welcome to attend.  



(Please contact convener for password j.peters2@uq.edu.au)