Keith Stubbs

Dr, BSc PhD (UWA)

  • The University of Western Australia (M310), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Dr Keith Stubbs completed his undergraduate and PhD studies at UWA, followed by post-doctoral studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He is now a principal investigator of a research laboratory in the School of Molecular Sciences at UWA. He has held various prestigious research fellowships over his career and he is currently an Associate Professor and Chemistry Curriculum Coordinator. His research interests are in the areas of developing chemical tools to study enzymes relevant to human disease, bacterial pathogenesis and biodiscovery.

Roles and responsibilities

2017-Present - Member of School of Molecular Sciences Research Committee

2021-present - Member of the UWA Academic Board
2022-Present - Chemistry Curriculum Coordinator, School of Molecular Sciences

2022-present - Member of the UWA Board of Studies (Mathematical and Physical Sciences)

Funding overview

ARC Future Fellowship
ARC Discovery Grants

ARC Linkage Grants
National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grants
Cancer Council WA
WA Medical and Health and Research Infrastructure Funds
Bayer CropScience

DMTC Pty Ltd.

Woodside Pty. Ltd

Demagtech Pty. Ltd.

Current projects

PhD & Honours Research Opportunities:

Prof. David Vocadlo, Simon Fraser University
Prof. Gideon Davies, University of York
Dr. Brian Mark, University of Manitoba
Dr. Alisdair Boraston, University of Victoria

Prof. Takane Katayama, Kyoto University
Dr. Joshua Mylne, Curtin University
Prof. Colin Raston, Flinders University
Dr Sean Sweeney, University of York
Prof. Barry Marshall, University of Western Australia
Dr. Mitali-Sarker-Tyson, University of Western Australia
Prof. Alice Vrielink, Univeristy of Western Australia
A/Prof. Charlene Kahler, University of Western Australia

Prof. Jonathan Baell, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Prof. Carl Fitzpatrick, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Teaching overview

Chemistry Curriculum Coordinator
CHEM1002 Chemistry-Structure and Reactivity
CHEM3004 Synthetic Applications


Carbohydrates are present in every living system from prokaryotes to eukaryotes and traditionally, have been known for their role in the structural integrity of plants and as energy sources. Recently, however, carbohydrates have been shown to be involved in a variety of fundamental biological processes such as protein folding and trafficking, as well as cellular signaling and recognition. As we gain greater understanding into the roles that carbohydrates play at the cellular level, scientists are faced with new challenges. On the chemistry side, unique carbohydrate-based tools need to be developed and in turn used to investigate the specific roles that a single mono- or polysaccharide plays in the dynamics of the cell in order to keep up with the biochemical discovery of new glycan structures and the enzymes that regulate them. My research aims are to address the development of such tools which involves synthetic, medicinal and biochemical approaches.

Very brief overviews of current research areas are outlined below.

Developing tools to study carbohydrate-processing enzymes in human health and disease: Various human diseases are caused by improper function of a specific carbohydrate-processing enzyme. We aim to develop tools to study these enzymes and then use the information gathered to produce therapeutics. This is done through the use of synthetic and medicinal chemistry approaches. We have numerous collaborators in Canada and the UK working with us on these projects.

Investigations into human milk oligosaccharides: One class of carbohydrates is those found in human breast milk and are termed human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). These compounds are critical for infant health as they provide nutrition for bifidobacteria (found in the human intestinal tract) which provide great benefits to infants such as nutrients, prevention of pathogenic bacterial growth and suppression of inflammatory and allergic responses. To date though, limited chemical tools have been generated to study these fundamentally important molecules. We have several collaborators in Japan working with us on this project.

Antimicrobial resistance: As the threat of antibiotic resistance grows with each passing year new therapeutic targets are required. We have numerous targets and approaches to developing new therapeutics. This is done through the use of synthetic and medicinal chemistry approaches. We have numerous collaborators in Australia and Canada working with us on these projects.

Investigations into the mechanism and biochemistry of carbohydrate-processing enzymes involved in plant cell wall degradation: Of increasing interest is how bacteria utilise plant-based materials and their direct importance to humans, as we are only able to utilise these carbohydrates for metabolism due to the action of unique enzymes produced by the bacteria living in our gastrointestinal tract. We have numerous collaborators in Canada and the UK working with us on these projects.

Herbicide resistance: The development and use of herbicides in agriculture has improved crop yields worldwide, but like antimicrobial resistance, herbicide resistance is also highly prevalent and is threatening food production. In collaboration with Professor Joshua Mylne (UWA) we have discovered new compounds with herbicidal potency and methods to assess the ability of these compounds to act as herbicides in the field. This project offers exciting opportunities in synthetic organic and medicinal chemistry.

Microfluidics: The development of new methodology in organic chemistry is always required to improve reaction yields and discover new reactions. In collaboration with Professor Colin Raston we have a microfluidic platform that can be utilized to explore new chemical reactions and also develop methodology to improve on existing methodologies. This project offers exciting opportunities in general synthetic organic chemistry.

The laboratory is always very welcoming for people interested in chemistry and/or biochemistry. If you have any interests in these areas please feel free to contact me by email and I am happy to discuss the exciting opportunities available.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Research expertise keywords

  • Carbohydrates
  • Organic chemistry
  • Biological chemistry
  • Antibiotics
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemical biology
  • Enzymology
  • Synthesis
  • Carbohydrate biochemistry and chemical glycobiology
  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Herbicide Discovery


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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