Jeffrey Keelan

Professor, BSc Liv., MSc PhD Auck., FSRB

  • The University of Western Australia (M504), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Crawley


  • 5165 Citations
  • 38 h-Index
1994 …2021
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Personal profile


Jeff Keelan gained his PhD from the University of Auckland in 1994, moving from Auckland to Perth WA in 2007. Although his research was initially in the field of steroid biochemistry, where he specialised in assay development, his postdoctoral research has primarily focused on the study of the immunology, endocrinology and pharmacology of pregnancy.
He is Professor of Obstetrics and Head of Laboratories at the Division of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH), University of Western Australia. He is also Director of the Women and Newborn Health Research Network at KEMH and Deputy Director of WIRF (Women and Infants Research Foundation). He is Associated Editor of Reproduction, Fertility and Development and on the Editorial Board of three other Journals. He has supervised more than 43 postgraduate students and is the Graduate Research Coordinator of the School of Women's and Infants' Health.
His has published over 175 articles in the fields of immunology, pharmacology, obstetrics and endocrinology (>5800 citations; h-index 40) and received more than $14 M in competitive grant funding. His current research is centred on the pharmacological treatment of intra-amniotic infection/inflammation, nanoparticle-based drug delivery in pregnancy, the intrauterine microbial and endocrine environment, amniotic fluid metagenomics, lipidomics and toxicology.

Roles and responsibilities

Head of School of Biomedical Sciences, QEII Medical Centre, Nedlands, Perth
Winthrop Research Professor, Division of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University of Western Australia, Perth WA
Head, Women and Infants Health Research Laboratory (WIHRL), King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth, WA
Director, Women and Newborn Health Research Network (WNHRN), King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth, WA.
Deputy Director, Women and Infants Research Foundation (WIRF)
Honorary Research Associate, Telethon Kids Institute
Adjunct Professor, Curtin University
Board Member, Marshall Centre Advisory Board

Future research

Maternal immunity and its relationship to risk of preterm birth; amniotic fluid and placental microbiomes and pregnancy outcome; amniotic fluid miRNAs; bioactive lipid mediators from omega-3 fatty acid metabolism; innate immune system in fetal membranes; wnt signalling in early pregnancy/implantation; nanoparticulate drug delivery systems and placental transfer; intraamniotic therapies for preterm birth; antibiotics is pregnancy; endocrine disruptors in pregnancy.

Funding overview

Since 2010:
2010: Co-applicant (CIB) with J Newnham, I Nitsos, A Jobe, NHMRC: “Effective treatment of Ureaplasma to prevent preterm birth”, $676,732 (3 years).
2011: Co-applicant with J Newnham, Channel 7 Telethon Trust: “Intraamniotic infection and preterm birth [Project 1]”, $352,000 (3 years). Total (Project 1 and 2), $500,000.
2011: Primary applicant (CIA), NHMRC, Equipment Grant: RotorGene-Q HRM Real-time PCR platform”, $63,000 (1 year).
2011: Primary applicant, Channel 7 Telethon Trust: “Placental pharmacokinetics of a novel macrolide antibiotic”, $85,000 (1 year).
2012: Primary applicant (CIA) with J Newnham, M Kemp and AC Charles, NHMRC: “Intraamniotic therapies for preterm birth”, $548,675 (3 years).
2012: Co-applicant with S Stock and MW Kemp, WIRF Starter Grant: “Production and function of amniotic fluid cationic host defense peptides”, $15,000, 1 year.
2012: Co-applicant with M Payne, MW Kemp, JP Newnham, WIRF Starter Grant: “Ureaplasma spp. in Australian women and association with increased risk of pre-term birth”, $15,000, 1 year.
2013: Co-applicant with MW Kemp, JP Newnham, J Rodgers and A Jobe: NHMRC Project Grant: “Second trimester intra-amniotic treatment for early preterm birth”, $378,877, 3 years.
2013: Principal applicant, Channel 7 Telethon Trust: “Nanosized Fetal Therapeutics”, $96,000, 1 year.
2013: Co-applicant with DJ Ireland, WIRF Starter Grant: “Characterisation of a new TAK1 inhibitor for the prevention of inflammation-induced preterm birth”, $15,000, 1 year.
2013: Co-applicant with M Walls, R Hart, WIRF Starter Grant: “Predictive markers of oocyte maturation and their relationship to oocyte quality and embryonic development ”, $15,000, 1 year.
2014: Principal applicant with Dr DJ Ireland, Channel 7 Telethon Trust: “Predicting Pregnancy Problems: The Amniotic Fluid miRNome Project”, 1 year.
2014: Co-applicant with Dr M Payne and Prof J Newnham, WIRF Capacity Building Grant: “Prevention of infection-driven preterm birth through development of a universal diagnostic test to identify high-risk pregnancies”, $105,000, 3 years.
2014: Co-applicant with Dr DJ Ireland, WIRF starter grant: “Predicting infection related risk of preterm birth – towards a healthier start to life”, $20,000, 1 year.
2014: Co-applicant (CIB) with JP Newnham, M Payne, D Doherty and R Allcock, NHMRC project grant: “Vaginal microbial biomarkers for the prevention of preterm birth”, $563,493, 3 years.
2015: Co-application with Prof Andrew Whitehouse: ARC Discovery grant, “The role of early testosterone and brain laterality in language development”, $415,000, 5 years.
2015: Co-applicant (CIB) with Susan Prescott and others: NHMRC Project grant, "Dietary modulation of maternal gut flora with oligosaccharides in pregnancy as a novel allergy prevention strategy", $1.68M, 5 years.
2015: Chief applicant, Channel 7 Telethon Trust grant “Western Australian pregnancy Biobank for High Risk Women 2016”, 1 year.
2016: Co-applicant (CIE) with F O’Gara, M Bunce, M Everard, S Prescott, P Richmond: “Establishing the West Australian Human Microbiome Collaborating Centre [WAHMCC]”, Telethon Perth Children’s Hospital Research Fund (TPCHRF, Strategic Research Initiative), 3 years $474,000 (2016-2018).
2016: Principle applicant, Channel 7 Telethon Trust grant, 1 year: "WA Pregnancy Biobank".
2016: Co-applicant (CIC) with CE Pennell and W Ang: “Targeting treatment success to prevent preterm birth”, Telethon Perth Children’s Hospital Research Fund (TPCHRF), 2 years $217,980 (2016-2017).
2017: Principle applicant, Channel 7 Telethon Trust grant, 1 year: "WA Pregnancy Biobank".

Previous positions

1985 – 94: Hospital Scientific Officer, Dept. Clinical Biochemistry, National Women’s Hospital, Auckland, NZ
1994 – 2001: Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Lecturer, University of Auckland, Dept Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology, Auckland, NZ
2001 – 2007: Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland, Auckland, NZ
2006 – 2007: Head, Pregnancy Research Group, Liggins Institute, University of Auckland

Current projects

Contact Jeff Keelan for details (project availability is constantly changing).
See also list on ResearchGate

Industrial relevance

Commercialization of a test to predict risk of infection-driven preterm birth

Teaching overview

Uni Auckland: MEDSCI201 (Introduction to Pharmacology and Toxicology): Lecturer and course coordinator.
Uni Auckland: MEDSCI720 (Biomedical research techniques) lecturer and course coordinator.
Uni Western Australia: ANHB3316, lecturer.
Other lecturing: Molecular Pharmacology; Reproductive biology; Placental pharmacology; Pharmacology in pregnancy.

Uni Western Australia:
IMED1108; ANHB2216; APHB5501;
MD Course (Foundations)


See this link for an online profile of Jeff's research:

Current research interests:
Inflammation- and infection-associated preterm labour.
Anti-inflammatory/anti-microbial modalities to prevent preterm labour.
Fetal membrane apoptosis and premature rupture
Placental drug transport.
Lipid-derived mediators in placental growth and function in pregnancy.
Nanoparticle transport and drug delivery in the placenta.
Endocrine disrupters in amniotic fluid and pregnancy.
The role and significance of the microbiome in pregnancy and fetal development.



External positions

Adjunct Professor, Curtin University of Technology

2017 → …

Honorary Research Associate, Telethon Kids Institute

Feb 2015 → …


  • Placental inflammation
  • Lipid-derived mediators in pregnancy
  • Preterm birth (prevention of)
  • Placental growth, development and apoptosis
  • Placental drug transporters
  • Placental nanoparticle transport
  • Pregnancy: obesity and inflammation
  • Antibiotic pharmacokinetics in pregnancy

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

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Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2008 2021

Research Output 1994 2018

Open Access
Vaginal Diseases
Maternal Age

Comparison of Meconium DNA extraction methods for use in microbiome studies

Stinson, L. F., Keelan, J. A. & Payne, M. S. 20 Feb 2018 In : Frontiers in Microbiology. 9, FEB, 270

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Bacterial DNA
Polymerase Chain Reaction
1 Citations
2 Citations

The impact of antenatal Bisphenol A exposure on male reproductive function at 20–22 years of age

Hart, R. J., Doherty, D. A., Keelan, J. A., Minaee, N. S., Thorstensen, E. B., Dickinson, J. E., Pennell, C. E., Newnham, J. P., McLachlan, R., Norman, R. J. & Handelsman, D. J. 1 Mar 2018 In : Reproductive BioMedicine Online. 36, 3, p. 340-347 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

bisphenol A

The possible impact of antenatal exposure to ubiquitous phthalates upon male reproductive function at 20 years of age

Hart, R. J., Frederiksen, H., Doherty, D. A., Keelan, J. A., Skakkebaek, N., Minaee, N., McLachlan, R., Newnham, J. P., Dickinson, J. E., Pennell, C. E., Norman, R. & Main, K. 4 Jun 2018 In : Frontiers in Endocrinology. 9, p. 1-11 288

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
phthalic acid


Sex steroid values, composites and cognitive follow-up Raine Cohort Data

Jamnadass, E. S. (Creator), Keelan, J. (Creator), Russell-Smith, S. N. (Creator), Hickey, M. (Creator), Maybery, M. (Creator), Whitehouse, A. (Creator), Dryad Digital Repository, 29 Mar 2017


Data from: Prenatal testosterone exposure is related to sexually dimorphic facial morphology in adulthood

Whitehouse, A. (Creator), Gilani, S. (Creator), Shafait, F. (Creator), Mian, A. (Creator), Tan, W. (Creator), Maybery, M. (Creator), Keelan, J. (Creator), Hart, R. (Creator), Handelsman, D. J. (Creator), Goonawardene, M. (Creator), Eastwood, P. (Creator), Dryad Digital Repository, 8 Sep 2015