Home > Research > Laboratories > Directed Evolution

Directed Evolution

In the Directed Evolution laboratory, we harness the power of Darwinian selection to evolve proteins with new therapeutic activities. Starting with unique proteins from all domains of life we aim to produce first-in-class or vastly improved drugs for intractable diseases.

Working with international collaborators, we have recently identified a new trigger for cardiac regeneration. In humans, this regenerative pathway is not properly engaged after a heart attack preventing a full recovery. We are applying our expertise in protein evolution (the engineering of new proteins with new traits) to increase the potency of this regenerative trigger to use as a therapeutic to improve outcomes after heart attack.

Heart disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects more than 4 million Australians and causes 1 in 4 deaths, with disproportionately worse outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. More treatment options are urgently needed to improve outcomes for those with CVD.

We develop and apply novel Directed Evolution platforms that couple mutagenesis, selection and next-generation sequencing to identify proteins with desirable properties. In the context of CVD we aim to specifically trigger regeneration of the heart to replace the cardiac muscle that is damaged by a heart attack.

Dr Daniel Hesselson, Head of Laboratory

Email: d.hesselson@centenary.org.au

Dr Daniel Hesselson is an internationally trained research leader in regenerative medicine, focusing on cells and organs affected by heart disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. His work uses insights from the study of basic regenerative processes to identify novel therapeutic targets for these devastating diseases.

His work with zebrafish, which started at UCSF and was expanded at the Garvan Institute, made significant contributions to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of regeneration in this highly regenerative model system. At Centenary, he is focused on exploiting these breakthroughs in basic science to develop new therapeutic strategies using the power of Directed Evolution to generate potent and highly specific biologic drugs.

  • Dr Alex Cole, Research Officer
  • Tom Dobson, Honours student
  • Jessica Carter, Honours student
  • Meagan Chin, Honours student

Search amongst our repository.

For access to all Publications via Pub Med.


Anzac Research Institute
Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Hunter Medical Research Institute
James Cook University
Macquarie University
Menzies Research Institute, University of Tasmania
Monash Children’s Hospital
Monash University
St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney
University of Queensland
University of Newcastle
University of New South Wales Sydney
University of Sydney
Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute


Institut Pasteur, France
Le Reseau International Des Instituts Pasteur RIIP, France
Max Planck Society, Germany
National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center Research Institute, Japan