Bob Hancock became interested in a career in microbiology when editing an article on the discovery of penicillin for The Science Journal. Following studies at the University of Adelaide, in Germany and the United States, he became Professor of Microbiology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Now a world leader in microbiology, he has contributed widely to research and research administration as the founder of the Canadian Bacterial Diseases Network.
Building on his studies of how antibiotics interact with bacteria, he became interested in developing new ways of treating infections in the face of increased antibiotic resistance. Using small positively charged peptides that are produced by all organisms, ‘Nature’s antibiotics’, he has developed these as a new class of antibiotics which are just completing clinical trials. He has also exploited genomic methods to develop compounds that boost the natural innate immune system, increasing its effectiveness in fighting infections, as an entirely new method of treatment.
Bob Hancock has been honoured as an Officer of the Order of Canada (OC).