David Fairlie

Title: Professor

First name: David

Surname: Fairlie

Web Site:


Professor David Fairlie is internationally known for his research contributions in the fields of medicinal chemistry, organic chemistry, biological chemistry, pharmacology, immunology, virology, neurobiology, biochemistry. He has had strong research programs in chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology and immunology continuously funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) since 1991 and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) since 1995. He was awarded prestigious fellowships from the ARC, in the form of an Australian Professorial Fellowship (2002-2006) and an Australian Federation Fellowship (2006-2011), and from the NHMRC, in the form of Senior Principal Research Fellowships (2012-2016; 2017-2021) and an Invesigator Fellowship Level 3 (2022-2026). He has held numerous research grants in chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, virology, immunology, parasitology, neurobiology and oncology; including over 20 multimillion dollar grants from industry and governments. He has served on academic and industry advisory panels, company boards, and research grant panels both in Australia and overseas. He collaborates with and consults to some of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies as well as startup companies in the USA.

Publications: Highly Cited Researcher. He has >450 publications; >40,000 citations; 105 articles with >100 citations (GS) and prior to COVID presented ≥5 invited plenary and keynote lectures around the world each year. He is also well known in the international pharmaceutical arena, having consulted to multiple big pharma on protease inhibitors, GPCR modulators, protein and peptide mimics, drug design and discovery, innate immunity and pharmacology. He has been involved in four startup companies in the USA and Australia.

Education: Professor Fairlie graduated from the University of Adelaide (South Australia) before undertaking postgraduate research in chemistry at the Australian National University (ANU, Canberra, Australia) and the University of New South Wales (Australia), and in pharmacology and pathology at the John Curtin School of Medicine (ANU, Canberra). He undertook postdoctoral research at Stanford University (California, USA) and at the University of Toronto (Ontario, Canada). Since then he has taught at the University of Western Australia, Griffith University, Bond University and University of Queensland. 

The Fairlie Research Group works at the interface of chemistry, biology and disease. Our researchers study chemistry, biology, or chemistry and biology, to better understand the detailed processes of life, ageing, disease and death.

Our chemistry researchers become experts in organic, medicinal, biological or computational chemistry in areas like solid and solution phase synthetic organic chemistry; structure determination using 2D NMR spectroscopy; computer-aided molecular or drug design; and interactions between small molecules, proteins, DNA and RNA. Outcomes are new chemical reactions/mechanisms/compounds/structures, enzyme inhibitors, protein agonists/antagonists, structural mimics of protein surfaces, and small molecule drug leads.

Our biology researchers use our new compounds as unique tools to interrogate human protein and cellular function and to elucidate mechanisms of protein activation, biological/physiological processes, disease development, and drug action in vivo. Researchers gain insights to processes pivotal to biochemistry, normal physiology or disease, and develop interdisciplinary skills in biochemistry, enzymology, cell biology and cell signaling, molecular pharmacology (cells) and experimental pharmacology (rodent models of human disease), immunology (especially innate immunity), oncology, parasitology, virology or neurobiology.

Former Group Members