Peter Zalewski

Dr Peter Zalewski

Senior Lecturer - Level C

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

My main interest currently is the role of labile zinc in cardiovascular physiology and disease. I co-discovered labile zinc and its role in cell signalling in the 1990s. The zinc fluorophore our group developed in 1990s is used around the world by researchers. I have more than 90 publications on zinc. I have been involved on a wide range of committees at the University of Adelaide and Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research. I have extensive experience as a post graduate coordinator in Medicine and am currently an Honours Coordinator for Medicine in the Adelaide Medical School.

Dr Peter Zalewski has had a major interest in the cellular biology of Zn and particularly, the development of techniques to visualize and quantify the more dynamic, labile pools of Zn and their role in the regulation of apoptosis. In 1996, he was awarded an NHMRC grant to develop zinc fluorophores that would enable measurement of labile Zn in normal and diseased cells and tissue. His group have now developed a panel of Zn fluorophores with different Zn affinities, excitation/emission wavelengths and fluorescence intensities, of which the prototype Zinquin is being used by scientists around the world to study cellular biology of Zn. His group was also the first to identify the link between labile cellular zinc and suppression of apoptosis (1993), the release of Zn from metalloproteins in apoptotic cells (1994), featuring on the cover of the journal, and the rapid activation of procaspase-3 in Zn-deficient cells (1999). These findings have since been confirmed in numerous international laboratories and the work featured in an episode of the National Science show Quantum in 1997. Dr Zalewski has written 9 reviews on Zn and apoptosis in the last few years. This particular area of his work was acknowledged in 1998 and 1999, by being a special invited speaker at closed workshops on Zn and other nutrients at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Rockville, respectively. These workshops established priorities for zinc research and health related aspects and led to the NIH Metals in Medicine Program Announcement in 2000. In 1997, he was a keynote speaker at the International Symposium of Metals in Yokahama and in 2000, co-organized a national conference QEHSM 2000: New Directions in zinc and asthma research at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He chaired the session Zinc and control of cell death for the 1st and 3rd International Conferences on Zn Signalling held in Grand Cayman 2002 and Aarhus, Denmark in 2004. In 2004 and 2008, he was awarded NHMRC project grants to study Zn in the airway epithelium and techniques to monitor it in asthmatic patients. He has also developed a rapid and sensitive fluorescence-based field assay that allows measurement of labile and total plasma Zn using Zinquin and a newly developed Zn fluorophore, respectively. This test is being adapted to measure zinc in sputum and exhaled breath condensate. In February 2007, Dr Zalewski was invited to a workshop in Bangladesh under the auspices of Harvest Plus (New York) to participate in the planning of a trial of Zn fortified rice to be given to young children with the aim of reducing morbidity due to diarrhea.

Date Project/ No. Role Funding Body Amount
2018-2020 Role for zinc and ZIP2 in the action of nitric oxide and in vascular protection against cigarette smoke and  cardiovascular disease (1138917) CIA NHMRC $685,940.60
2016-2018 Exploiting increased autophagy in bronchial epithelial cells: a new therapeutic approach for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). (1099040)


CIB NHMRC $2,172,483

Alveolar macrophage zinc and zinc transporters and their role in phagocytosis. (627223)

CIA NHMRC $278,750

 Airway epithelial IAPs and their interaction with Zn ions. (519206)

CIA NHMRC $250,500

 Novel markers for zinc transport in airway inflammation and transplanted pancreatic islets, and for susceptibility genes in stroke. (361655).

CIA NHMRC $41,500

 Role of zinc in the respiratory epithelium and asthma. (299005)

CIA NHMRC $220,500

 The visualization and measurement of zinc in living cells using fluorescent probes. (951092)

CID NHMRC $189,734

 Auranofin as tool for investigation of B lymphocyte activation.

CIB NHMRC $82,904

Prematuration modulation in studies of phorbol ester action and maturation arrest.

CIB NHMRC $89,991

Honours Program Coordinator (Medicine) at The Adelaide Medical School

  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2011 - 2015 Co-Supervisor Investigations into the Role of Zinc and Zinc Transporters in the Pathogenesis of Type 2 Diabetes in db/db Mice Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Mariea Dencey Bosco
    2008 - 2012 Co-Supervisor Zinc and Genomic Stability Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Razinah Sharif
    2007 - 2014 Principal Supervisor Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins as Regulatory Factors in the Normal and Inflamed Airway Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Eugene Roscioli
    2003 - 2010 Co-Supervisor Airway Inflammation, Diagnosis, Perception of Asthma and Sputum Zinc Levels in a Community Cohort Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Lata Jayaram
    1999 - 2002 Principal Supervisor INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE ROLE OF ZINC IN NORMAL AND ALLERGIC RESPIRATORY EPITHELIAL CELLS AND TISSUES Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Ai Quynh Truong-Tran
    1999 - 2003 Principal Supervisor LABILE ZINC AND ITS ROLE IN REGULATION OF PRO-CASPASE-3 AND NF-kB ACTIVATION IN MAST CELLS Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Lien Ho
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2000 - ongoing Member International Society for Zinc Biology
    2000 - ongoing Member NMRC grant applications program Singapore
  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2000 - ongoing Associate Editor Genes and Nutrition
  • Offices Held

    Date Office Name Institution Country
    2018 - ongoing Honours Coordinator for Medicine and Specialities University of Adelaide Australia
  • Position: Senior Lecturer - Level C
  • Phone: 82227344
  • Email:
  • Fax: 8222 6042
  • Campus: The Queen Elizabeth Hospital
  • Building: QEH - Basil Hetzel Institute, floor 2
  • Org Unit: Medicine

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