Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus
1985 …2024

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research Biography

Professor Christopher Franco's research career combines both the industrial and academic spheres. For 10 years he led a successful drug discovery and development group in an International biopharmaceutical company and holds patents for 11 compound families. In 1993, he joined the School of Medicine, as a founding academic in the Biotechnology Program. Now Head, Medical Biotechnology, he manages the Biotechnology teaching and research programs in the College of Medicine and Public Health. He is an accomplished Research supervisor, successfully completing over 35 PhD and 55 Honours/Masters students.

He is Australia's leading actinobacteriologist and continues to discover novel actinobacteria and new bioactives from algae, plant cell culture, mammalian cells and marine organisms. He pioneered the isolation and application of actinobacterial endopytes for sustainable crop production and was awarded the prestigious  Australian Museum Eureka Prize (2004). He headed the GRDC's multi-institutional Beneficial Microbes Project which resulted in microbial inoculants which are in commerciial development.

He is a founding member of the Flinders Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development. He has extensive international experience, working in the UK, Germany, India, Indonesia, Singapore and China and was International Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences and the School of Medicine. He collaborates with researchers in Asia, Europe and N.America.

Research Interests

Details of Research projects:

Actinomycetes and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

  • Strategies for the isolation of novel actinobacteria
  • Discovery of novel microbial metabolites
  • Actinomycete ecology and characterisation
  • Molecular biology techniques in biodiversity
  • Actinobacterial endophytes- pharmaceutical and agricultural applications


  • Fermentation technology of microbial and plant cells
  • Expression and manipulation of secondary metabolism
  • Purification and characterisation of actinobacterial compounds
  • Bioprocessing for functional foods and cosmeceuticals
  • Biofuels and renewable energy

Marine Biotechnology

  • Bioactives from seaweed, sponge  and sea cucumbers
  • Prebiotic evaluation of seaweed and seaweed components
  • Value addition to fish processing co-products
  • Sponge-bacterial interactions

External Research Collaborations

  • Chris Dunlap (USDA- NRRL) on NGS of wheat growing ecosystems
  • Anil Sharma, Pantnagar, and Gupta Vadakattu, CSIRO, Adelaide . Australia india Strategic Research Fund on wheat microbiome to counter drought stress.
  • Yonghua Zhu, Hunan University. GM Rice -environmental impact
  • Steve Barnett, Ross Ballard (SARDI) and Lambert Brau (Murdoch Univ). GRDC Beneficial Microbes Programs 1 and 2.
  • Qingdao Great Gather Ocean Group, Qingdao, on new products from Sea weed.
  • Ross Ballard & Dr Liz Drew (SARDI), Interactions of Beneficial Microbes
  • Calum Wilson & Robert Teeg (Univ. Tasmania). HAL: Application of Actinobacterial endophytes for potato cultivation and disease control.
  • Eileen Scott & Amanda Able (Univ Adelaide) on Control of Phytophtora. Co-supervision of PhD candidate.
  • Gupta Vadakattu, CSIRO Ecosystems, Adelaide, Co-supervision of Research Higher degree students
  • Ern Lacey, MST Sydney, on Screening and production of new actinoband molecular acterial metabolites.
  • Margaret Roper, CSIRO Plant Industries, Perth, on Plant-associated microorganisms for improved grain yield. Co-Investigator on GRDC grant.
  • Rose Loria, Dept Plant Pathology, Cornell University, on Molecular interactions of actinomycete endophytes.
  • CRC for Seafood, with Simplot Australia and Tasmanian Seafoods on Seafood co-product utilisation and sea cuucmber

Supervised Students Successes

  • Aug 2013 Qi Yang - People's choice award -3MT competition

Completed Supervisions

Principal Supervisions:
  • Actinobacterial endophyte function and ecology (10)
  • Optimising Plant Cell culture (6)
  • Actinobacterial discovery, taxonomy and application (5)
  • Bioprocessing (4)
  • Discovery of novel compounds from sea cucumber viscera — Principal (1)

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Flux Analysis of Baker's Yeast, University of Strathclyde

8 Sept 197630 Oct 1979

Award Date: 30 Jun 1980

Master of Science, Single Cell Protein production using Straw waste , Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

8 Sept 197530 Sept 1976

Award Date: 1 Oct 1976

Bachelor (Honours), Bachelor degree in Microbiology with Chemistry, St. Xavier's College, University of Bombay

4 Jul 197115 May 1975

Award Date: 15 Jul 1975


  • Registered

Research Areas

  • Medical biosciences

Supervisory Interests

  • Molecular plant cell-based bioprocessing
  • Actinobacterial discovery
  • Actinobacterial endophytes
  • Pharmaceutical biotechnology and natural product drug discovery
  • Bioprocess technology
  • Industrial microorganisms
  • Biocontrol agents
  • Bioactive natural products
  • Microbial diversity


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