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Making medicine work better

Dr Nicky Thomas is a Senior Research Fellow who develops innovative medicines to treat infectious diseases that no longer respond to antimicrobial therapy.

Bacteria that are highly resistant to almost all known antibiotics (often called “superbugs”) are a major threat for global communities, particularly for patients undergoing surgery and patients with an impaired immune system. Supported by The Hospital Research Foundation Nicky studies the use of nanomedicines (medicine that is smaller than 1/1000 of the width of a human hair). At this scale the medicine can sense the presence of bacteria and directly target the infection while reducing side effects typically seen with conventional antibiotic therapy.

As a trained pharmacist Nicky works alongside clinicians at the coalface of biomedical research for meaningful outcomes for the community.

Nicky obtained his PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Otago, New Zealand. During his PhD project he improved the efficacy of anti-malaria medicine while reducing the side effects of the drug.After a year as a Research Assistant at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, he joined the University of South Australia in 2013. Nicky’s research focuses on the development of novel anti-bacterial strategies to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria and chronic bacterial infections.

He is the founder and Head of the Adelaide Biofilm Test Facility, located at the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences at the University of South Australia.

Nicky’s main research focuses on the interaction of nanomedicine with bacteria for the development of improved medicine against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

His second research interest is concerned with the question how nanomedicines can be used to improve the efficacy and safety of drugs with pharmaceutically challenging properties (e.g. poor water solubility, permeabilty, high toxicity such as cancer drugs).


  • BSc(Pharm)
  • PGCert(Pharm)
  • PhD

Professional Associations

  • American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS)
  • American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
  • Controlled Release Society (CRS)
  • Australasian Pharmaceutical Science Association (APSA)
  • Australian Nanotechnology Network (ANN)
  • Deutsche Pharmazeutische Gesellschaft (German Pharmaceutical Society, DPhG)

Positions held in last 10 years

  • Community and hospital pharmacist in Germany and Switzerland (2002-2009)
  • PhD student, School of Pharmacy, University of Otago (2009-2012)
  • Research Assistant, School of Pharmacy, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (2012-2013)
  • Research Associate, Ian Wark Research Institute, University of South Australia (2013- 2015)
  • NHMRC ECR Fellow, School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia (UniSA, 2015- 2018)
  • Head Adelaide Biofilm Test Facility, UniSA (2017-present)
  • The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF) Mid Career Fellow (2019-present)

Nicky participates in the following Community Engagement activities:

  • National Science Week, including Science Alive!
  • Pint of Science Festival, Adelaide
  • University of Third Age talks
  • Radio, TV and print media appearances