Personal profile


Dr Hellyer is an early career researcher (PhD 2015) with an interest in neuroscience, molecular pharmacology and the genetic basis of disease. Dr Hellyer started his research career in toxinology, studying the mechanism of action of novel marine neurotoxins during his honours and PhD research. He is currently a senior postdoctoral research fellow in the Gregory Laboratory at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Dr Hellyer's current research is focused on metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors, their role in neurological disorders (especially schizophrenia) and novel ways to target these receptors in the treatment of CNS disease.

As an emerging independent researcher, Dr Hellyer has a burgeoning interest in naturally occuring mutations in mGlu receptors, and how they contribute to the pathology of neurological disorders such as schizophrenia and spinocerebellar ataxia. Using the skills he has learned in the Gregory Lab, Dr Hellyer hopes to explore the pathophysiological effects of naturally occuring mutations, and their ability to be modulated by small therapeutic molecules. He also retains a keen interest in natural neurotoxins and venoms, their mechanisms of action and their potential use as therapeutic compounds or leads

Dr Hellyer has extensive expertise in multiple molecular pharmacology techniques, mammalian neuronal cell culture and tissue electrophysiology. Additionally, Dr Hellyer has strong written communication sklls, having worked for 1 year in medical communications after being awarded his PhD. Both his written and research skills are evidenced by 12 publications, including 10 first author articles. These include such highlights as:

1) the first description of a nicotinic antagonist mechanism of action for marine pinnatoxins E, F and G

2) evidence of context dependent mGlu desensitisation in response to modulation by small molecule drug-like compounds

3) 2 papers showing for the first time the structural basis of mGlu5 pharmacological phenomena such as bias and probe dependence

Research interests


1) neuroscience

2) molecular pharmacology

3) natural product research

4) toxinology



- identifying the mechanism of action of novel natural products and their potential utilisation as therapeutics

- the pharmacology of natural neurotoxins

- allosteric modulaton of GPCRs as a therapeutic approach in CNS disorders

- genetic basis of schizophrenia and spinocerebellar ataxia, in particular mutations in mGlu receptors

- molecular basis of mGlu desensitisation and regulation

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Education/Academic qualification

Pharmacology, PhD, Mechanism of action of pinnatoxins E,F and G, University of Otago

Award Date: 1 May 2015

Research area keywords

  • metabotropic glutamate receptor
  • neuroscience
  • Drug Discovery
  • Biased Signalling

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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