BSc (Hons) (St Andrews) Biochemistry, PhD (Nottingham) Biochemistry
Director of Postgraduate Coursework in Molecular Biology
+61 7 336 54626

I started my research career as Science and Engineering Research Council (now Science and Engineering Research Board)-funded Ph.D. scholar in the Biochemistry Department at the Queen’s Medical Centre at the University of Nottingham, UK, working on the purification of the D2-dopamine receptor from bovine brain.  I then moved to Australia and found a position as a Research officer at the Department of Biochemistry at The University of Queensland working on acetaldehyde modification of proteins in alcohol abuse.

The role of protein modification in the toxicity of ethanol and other compounds such as clinical drugs, together with associated immune phenomena, has been my major research focus since that time.  In 1992, I received a Postdoctoral Research fellowship from The University of Queensland to continue my work in the Department of Biochemistry. Later, in 1994 I received an NHMRC grant to continue my work on ethanol toxicity.  In 1996 I was appointed as an Associate Lecturer in Biochemistry; in 1999 I was promoted to Lecturer, and in 2010 to Senior Lecturer.  I was also appointed Director of Molecular Biology postgraduate Coursework programs in 2007.  Part of my role as director of Postgraduate Coursework in Molecular Biology is to place and mentor up to 20 students each semester in research projects in various laboratories throughout the university, including my own. I have also successfully graduated 10 honours students and 6 doctoral students.

Brief Research Description: 
Mechanisms of drug-induced liver damage
Research Focus and Collaborations: 

Mechanisms of Drug-Induced Tissue Injury:  

Liver, muscle, heart and brain injury have long been associated with the abuse and clinical use of drugs.

My predominant research interest focuses on ethanol, the most commonly abused drug in Western societies.  Ethanol is widely tolerated but induces a wide variety of tissue injury in a small number of individuals. Thus, my main research focus is the investigation of immunological and genetic phenomena associated with this alcohol-induced tissue injury.

My main areas of research are focussed on providing the answers to the following questions:

1)    Does ethanol alter hepatic gene expression to cause liver damage?
2)    Does ethanol alter hepatocyte sensitivity to cytokines leading to cell death?
3)    Is protein modification by ethanol metabolites involved in the aetiology of:

a)    alcoholic liver disease? (with Dean Tuma and Geoffrey Thiele, USA)
b)    alcoholic skeletal and cardiac myopathy? (with Victor Preedy, UK, and Onni Niemela, Finland)
c)    alcoholic brain injury? (with Peter Dodd, UQ)
d)    foetal alcohol syndrome? (with Vincent Sapin, France)

4)    Are there alcohol metabolism-related molecular markers for the severity of alcoholic cerebellar degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease? (with Peter Dodd, UQ)


My teaching is split into three main areas:

1.    Teaching to health professions students: BIOL1007 - Molecular & Cellular Biology for Physiotherapists;BIOC1011 – Molecular basis of life (Vet Sci); DENT2054 - Foundation Biological Sciences for Dentistry;MEDI1000 - Foundations of Medical Practice.
2.    Teaching to science students:  BIOL3230 - Endocrinology & Metabolism.
3.    Teaching to postgraduate coursework students:  BIOC6014 - Literature Review in Molecular Biology A;BIOC7000 - Major Research Project & Seminar; BIOC7003 - Major Research Project & Seminar; BIOC7009 - Research Proposal; BIOC7010 - Research Project A; BIOC7011 - Research Project B; BIOC7014 - Literature Review in Molecular Biology B; BIOC7021 - Advanced Research Project & Seminar; BIOC7022 - Advanced Research Project & Seminar; BIOC7023 - Advanced Research Project & Seminar; BIOC8000 - Advanced Genomics & Bioinformatics.  

Significant Professional Activities and Awards: 

1992-1993: University of Queensland Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
1997- present:  Visiting Professor at Omaha Veterans’ Administration Hospital Research Division, the University of Nebraska (Omaha).
200-2005: Editorial Board of Journal of Studies on Alcohol

Selected Publications: