Skip to Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Microbiology Logo Microbiology & Immunology
Te Tari Moromoroiti me te Ārai Mate

Sesquicentennial Distinguished Professor Greg Cook

Research interests:

Microbial physiology and biochemistry, antimicrobial resistance, drug discovery, molecular microbiology, structural biology

Current research:

Research projects in the Cook laboratory are multidisciplinary, spanning human biomedical and agritech/biotech, and covers basic to translational research. We interact with multiple end users in academia, government, industry and pharma.  Research from the Cook laboratory is aimed at providing fundamental knowledge on the metabolism and energetics of bacterial pathogens like Mycobacterium tuberculosis and multidrug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens. A major goal of this research is to translate these findings into new drug target development to combat antimicrobial-resistance (AMR) and tolerance, and provide molecular and mechanistic insight into the mode of action of antimicrobials (old and new).  A second major theme of the Cook laboratory is aimed at preserving human, animal and plant health in the face of AMR through the discovery and implementation of compounds that are used exclusively in animals and plants to combat environmental pathogens like mastitis-causing bacteria and fungal pathogens of plants. The goal of this work is to break the link between human and agricultural use of the same classes of antimicrobials and safeguard against the potential for antimicrobial resistance determinant transfer via the food chain.   Part of this theme includes discovering new inhibitors for management of greenhouse gas emissions in ruminant animals and soils.

 Appointments and Honours:

  • Sesquicentennial Distinguished Chair, University of Otago (2020)
  • Director, The Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, University of Auckland (2020- present) 
  • Head of Department, Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago (2019-present)
  • Chair-elect, Gordon Research Conference on Bioenergetics (vice Chair 2019, Chair 2021)
  • Academic advisory board member, International joint laboratory of traditional Chinese medicine modernization and innovative drug research, Ministry of Education of China (2018-present)
  • University of Otago Research Group Award, Otago Bacterial Energetics and Antimicrobial Resistance Group (2017)
  • University of Otago Distinguished Research Medal, University of Otago's highest distinction (2014)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society New Zealand Te Apārangi (2013)
  • James Cook Fellow, (2012-2014)
  • Distinguished Orator Award, New Zealand Microbiological Society (2012)
  • Personal Chair, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago (2009)
  • 8th Sir William Dunn and Sidney Sussex College Fellow, Cambridge U.K. (2009)
  • Visiting Professor (invited), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Institut für Mikrobiologie, Zurich, Switzerland (2001 and 2005)
  • University of Otago Early Career Award for Distinction in Research (2004)


Research projects 

  • A. Bacterial energetics as a new target space for drug development

  • B. Fueling persistence: adaptation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to hypoxia and low energy conditions

  • C. Antimicrobial resistance and finding new drugs for environmental microorganisms

These projects utilize modern technologies (e.g. proteomics, transcriptomics, molecular biology and structural biology) to address important questions in bacterial adaptation to environment.