Andrew Abell

Professor Andrew Abell


School of Physical Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD, but is currently at capacity - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Andrew graduated from the University of Adelaide with BSc(Hon) and PhD and then undertook a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge. He held a professorship at the University of Canterbury before returning to the University of Adelaide in 2007, where he is currently Professor of Chemistry and node director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale Biophotonics. His research interests are concerned with understanding the fundamental link between the chemical structure and shape of key biological molecules and their biological function. While his work is very much driven by fundamental science, he has always had a keen interest in pursuing associated commercial opportunities. The seed for this was sown with a sabbatical leave working as a visiting scientist, consultant and senior Fulbright Fellow with SmithKline Beecham (now GSK) in Philadelphia. In Adelaide he co-founded an Adelaide-based company (Calpain Therapeutics) to develop macrocyclic protease inhibitors as a potential treatment for cataract and other conditions. Past member of ARC College of Experts and Head of School of Chemistry and Physics at the University of Adelaide and also recent recipient of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute Adrien Albert Prize and the Alexander R. Matzuk Prize and Lecture in Drug Discovery (Baylor College of Medicine, Houston).

The focus of our extended group is concerned with the design, synthesis, and exploitation of small molecule enzyme inhibitors and mimics of key biological compounds. These compounds provide a basis of new therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and other diseases, as well as probes to study key metabolic processes such as electron transfer. They can also be attached to surfaces to provide functional materials and biosensors.

Please see our Group webpage:

Please also see the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP):

Please also see Calpain Therapeutics:

Do you want to join our research group?

PhD Scholarships

University scholarships for Australian students are known as Australian Postgraduate Awards (APA). These scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and in designated areas of research strength within the University. If a student does not secure an APA, then the School of Physical Sciences considers the option of divisional scholarships (based on academic merit and budget limits). The University also offers a range of Scholarships for international students.

Application involves filling in the "application form for admission/scholarship".

When applying for domestic scholarships please remember to tick both the APA and Divisional box.  After the closing date, the Graduate Centre will forward your application to the School to consider. If an APA is not awarded then the school will consider offering a divisional scholarship.  Further details can be found at the scholarship websites

Further information on international PhD scholarships can be found at:

Postdoctoral Positions

Postdoctoral positions arise from time to time, so if you're interested please get in touch and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Major recent research grants and funding

  • 1993-1997:  PGSF funding, Synthetic and Natural Products as a Source of Pharmaceuticals ($910,000).
  • 1996-1998:  Three year funding in the inaugural round of the NZ Marsden fund ($59,000).
  • 1998:  The Agriculture and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) funding (PhD fellowship).
  • 1998:  Two year FORST postdoctoral funding ($140,000).
  • 1998:  Royal Society of Chemistry International Authors Travel Grant.
  • 1999-2002:  Chief Investigator A, Royal Society of NZ Marsden award.  Molecular Switches and the Modulation of Chemical Reactivity and Enzyme Action ($323,000).
  • 1999: University of Canterbury Research Grant, The Design and Synthesis of HIV Protease Inhibitors ($28,020).
  • 2001-2003: Chief Investigator A, Royal Society of NZ Marsden award. Design and Synthesis of Shikimate Pathway Inhibitors ($475,000).
  • 2002-2007: Chief Investigator A, FiRST grant. A medical treatment for Cataracts ($2 million over 5 years)
  • 2003-2005: Chief Investigator A, Royal Society of NZ Marsden award. Conformationally constrained and immobilised bioactives ($600,000).
  • 2004-2006: Chief Investigator B, Royal Society of NZ Marsden award. Behaviour, attachment and detachment of algal propagules in turbulent conditions ($700,000).
  • 2006 –2008: Chief Investigator A, Royal Society of NZ Marsden award. ‘To beta or not to beta that is the question’ ($850,000)

Relocated to the University of Adelaide (April 2007)

  • 2007 – 2009: Chief Investigator A, ARC Discovery grant DP077190. Mimicking peptide structure - towards an aqueous environment (A$300,000).
  • 2008 - 2009: Chief Investigator A, ARC International Fellowship grant LX0881950. Conformationally constrained and immobilized beta-peptides (A$119,000).
  • 2008 - 2010: Chief Investigator A, ARC Linkage International grant LX0881949. The synthesis and applications of aqueous metathesis. (A$38,000 over 3 years).
  • 2009: Chief Investigator, ARC Lief grant LE0989336. South Australian Facility for Small and Large Molecule X-ray Diffraction Structure Determination (A$560,000)
  • 2008 - 2009: Chief Investigator, Commercial Accelerator Scheme funding (A$250,000)
  • 2009 - 2010: Chief Investigator NHMRC development grant. Proof of concept studies on a novel antibiotic. (A$195,000).
  • 2009 – 2012: Chief Investigator A, ARC Discovery grant DP0985176. Electron transfer in proteins, a study of mechanism and function. (A$350,000).
  • 2010: Chief Investigator, Cancer Council SA.  Restoration of p53 activity in tumours: A new approach involving the p53 coactivator. (A$90,000).
  • 2010: Chief Investigator, Cancer Council SA. Antagonists of Gankyrin as anti-cancer agents. (A$84,000)
  • 2010: A lead academic for Australian Government HEEF funding to establish a centre for Photonics and Surface Science University of Adelaide (A$28.8 million).
  • 2010-2011: Chief Investigator, International Science Linkages (ISL). Finding new medicines for important infectious diseases. (A$198,581)
  • 2010-2013: Chief Investigator, ARC Super Science fellowship FS100100039. Disruptive approaches to biological sensing. (A$834,000)
  • 2011: Chief Investigator, ARC Lief LE110100169. UV-VIS-IR Spectroscopic Ellipsometers for Advanced Material and Device Characterisation. (A$300,000)
  • 2011: University of Queensland Business School Enterprize award to Calpain Therapeutics ($100,000)
  • 2011-2014: Chief Investigator, Cancer CRC PhD top up scholarship. Proteasomal inhibitors as anti-cancer agents. (A$30,000).
  • 2011-2014: Chief Investigator A. NHMRC Project grant APP1011806. Inhibitors of biotin protein ligase: A new class of antibiotic targetting Staphylococcus aureus. (A$585,000)
  • 2011-2015: Chief Investigator, ARC Linkage LP110200736. Nanosampling sensors for real‑time embryo monitoring (A$420,000)
  • 2012-2016: Chief Investigator A, ARC DP. Defining peptide structure and function: The shape of things to come (A$355,000).
  • 2013-2017: Chief Investigator A, ARC DP130101827. Advancing New Pharmaceuticals (A$360,000)
  • 2013: Chief Investigator A, ARC Lief LE130100168. Adelaide NMR Centre (A$1.250 million)
  • 2014-2017 Chief Investigator A. NHMRC Project grant APP106885. A new class of antibiotic (A$725,000)
  • 2014-2017 Chief Investigator. NHMRC Project grant APP106885. The mechanism of cataract and its prevention. (A$688,000)
  • 2014-2021: Chief Investigator, ARC CE140100003. ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics. (A$40,000,000)
  • 2016: University of Adelaide Beacon Research equipment grant ($100,000)
  • Position: Professor
  • Phone: 83135652
  • Email:
  • Fax: 8313 4380
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Badger, floor G
  • Room: G 19
  • Org Unit: Chemistry

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