Jeffrey Keelan

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

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

    6009 Perth


  • The University of Western Australia (M550), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


  • Source: Scopus
  • Calculated using citation counts from Scopus for publications in the UWA Profiles and Research Repository
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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, and Head of School of Biomedical Sciences (QEII Medical Centre). He is also Director of the Women and Newborn Health Research Network at KEMH and a Deputy Director of WIRF (Women and Infants Research Foundation). He has supervised more than 50 postgraduate students.
His has published almost 200 articles in the fields of immunology, pharmacology, obstetrics and endocrinology (>9000 citations; h-index 51) and received more than $18 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

I am interested in exploring the prognostic value of assessing maternal inflammation in pregnancy, and the use of drugs, probiotics and dietary supplements to mitigate the effects of inflammation in pregnancy.

Funding overview

Since 2014:

2014:  Principal applicant, 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 M Linden and others, NHMRC equipment grant: “BD FACS Canto II flow cytometer”, $50,000, 1 year.

2014: Chief applicant with CE Pennell and DA Doherty, Channel 7 Telethon Trust grant “Western Australian pregnancy Biobank for High Risk Women, 2 years

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-applicant (CIF) with A Whitehouse, M Maybery, D Bishop, C Franks, S Fisher, A/Prof P Jacoby, A Murphy. ARC Discovery grant DP160101174: “The role of early testosterone and brain laterality in language development (the TALK study)”, $415,000, 5 years (2016-2020).

2015:  Co-applicant (CIB) with S Prescott, K Simmer, D Palmer & R Allcock. NHMRC Project grant APP1099480: “Dietary modulation of maternal gut flora with oligosaccharides in pregnancy as a novel allergy prevention strategy”, 5 years $1,649,000 (2016-2020)

2015: Chief applicant, Channel 7 Telethon Trust grant “Western Australian Pregnancy Biobank for High Risk Women 2016”.

2015: Co-applicant (CIB) with Y Huang, Zhenyu Wu, Bo Pang, Weiwei Sun, Ruihua Liu. National Natural Science Fund of China project grant: Study on the mechanism of gold nanoparticles transporting across the placental barrier. ¥800000 [approx. $160,000] (2015-2018).

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:  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).

2016: Co-applicant (CIB) with C Gomez (principal investigator) and S Prescott (CIC): “Longer outside, better inside: outdoor exposure and its impact on the gut microbiome and development of asthma and allergy”, Asthma Foundation of WA New Investigator Grant, 2 years $26,690 (2016-18).

2016: Chief applicant, Channel 7 Telethon Trust grant “Western Australian Pregnancy Biobank for High Risk Women: Phase II Funding”, 1.5 years.

2017:  Chief applicant (CIB) with John Newnham, Dorota Doherty, Matthew Payne. NHMRC project grant APP1111111: “A prospective, open-label, single-centre/multi-site, randomized clinical trial of a novel maternal microbiological “screen & treat” program compared with normal care for the prevention of preterm birth”. 4 years (2018-2021) $1,733,000

2017   Chief applicant (CIA) with David Olson, Sarah Robertson, Matthew Kemp and Hayley Dickinson. NHMRC project grant AP1145295: “Preclinical evaluation of a novel allosteric IL-1R inhibitor (rytvela) for the prevention of perinatal inflammation-induced fetal injury”, 4 years (2018-2021), $1,370,000.

2017   Chief applicant (CIB) with Sarah Robertson and Mark Hutchins. NHMRC project grant APP1140916: “Preclinical development of TLR signalling inhibitors for prevention of preterm labour and fetal inflammatory injury”, 3 years (2018-2020), $690,821.

2017   Co-applicant with Jiake Xu and others, NHMRC Equipment Grant: “iCelligence System”, $33,500

2017   Co-applicant with J Newnham and others, NHMRC Equipment Grant: “Kingfisher 96-Plex Purification System”, $50,000.

2018   Chief applicant, Channel 7 Telethon Trust Grant: “Multi-omic analysis of cervicovaginal fluids for predicting preterm birth”

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

Lecturing: Molecular Pharmacology; Reproductive biology; Placental pharmacology; Pharmacology in pregnancy.

Uni Western Australia: Lecturer for ANHB2216; APHB5501; ANHB3316; IMED 1108, IMED 2208; IMED 3308

Uni Auckland: MEDSCI201 (Introduction to Pharmacology and Toxicology): Lecturer and course coordinator.
Uni Auckland: MEDSCI720 (Biomedical research techniques) lecturer and course coordinator.


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.



Education/Academic qualification

Obstetrics, PhD, The University of Auckland

Award Date: 1 Jul 1994

Biochemistry, MSc, The University of Auckland

Award Date: 1 Dec 1986

Applied Biology, BSc (Hons), Liverpool John Moores University

Award Date: 1 Sep 1979

External positions

Adjunct Professor, Curtin University of Technology

2017 → …

Honorary Research Associate, Telethon Kids Institute

Feb 2015 → …

Research expertise keywords

  • 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
  • Microbiome

Industry keywords

  • Medicine and Pharma
  • Clinical Trials
  • Diagnostics


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