Bob Mead  from Murdoch University in Perth Australia.

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    Associate Professor Bob Mead
    BSc (Hons) PhD (West Aust)

    Associate Professor in Biochemistry

    About me

    I am a biochemist and molecular toxicologist who joined Murdoch University in 1981 after 10 years in the Faculty of Medicine at UWA and at Fremantle Hospital. My teaching focuses on the application of biochemistry and toxicology to medicine and forensics within a problems-based learning framework. I am a passionate teacher and have drawn upon my experience in the hospital system and my regular preparation of expert testimony and its delivery in Court to generate two case-oriented textbooks, one on clinical acid-base balance and another on forensic toxicology. In 2004 I established the Forensic Biology and Toxicology degree and teach and co-ordinate several of its core units including Bodies of Evidence, Forensic Toxicology, Biochemistry I and Biochemistry II. To assist with the development of work-ready graduates I have established a Clinical Honours program which places about 15 students annually into the hospital system to undertake patient-centred medical research largely in the area of oncobiology. Apart from this involvement, my major research thrust is associated with the metabolism and toxicology of drugs and pesticides, particularly compound 1080, about which I have published 16 peer-reviewed journal articles. Over the past 30 years I have supervised or co-supervised 155 Honours and 5 PhD students. My main administrative responsibilities revolve around my role as Head of the Molecular and Biomedical Sciences Academic Organisational Unit in the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences; as Academic Chair of the Forensic Biology and Toxicology and Molecular Biology majors; my membership of  the University’s Academic Promotions and Probationary Review Committee and my role as a National Assessor for the Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) Teaching Grants and Teaching Excellence Awards. From November 29th 2013, I am moving to an Emeritus Professorship but will be continuing with many of the same duties.

    Teaching area

    My teaching and co-ordination responsibilities revolve around the units BIO270 Biochemistry I, BIO371 Biochemistry II and the core units of the Forensic Biology and Toxicology majors, most particularly BIO315 Bodies of Evidence, BI0388 Case Studies in Forensic Biology and BIO314 Forensic Toxicology. These units adopt a problem-solving, case-oriented approach which focuses on real life scenarios to help prepare students for  medical research; for entry into Graduate Medicine programs or to facilitate their employment as Forensic Biologists or Crime Scene Investigators with local and federal authorities. I have also been responsible for teaching medical students for over 30 years in specialist areas such as clinical acid-base balance, relevant to the maintenance of patients in intensive care units. Through my Hospital links I place many students into Honours, ISC and work experience projects in clinical environments.

    Research areas

    Metabolism and toxicology of drugs and fluorinated pesticides, particularly Gliftor (1,3-difluoro-2-propanol) and 1080 (fluoroacetate)

    Blood pattern analysis at crime scenes

    Co-evolution of native animals and poisonous plants and the development of counter-adaptive metabolic strategies by animals to detoxify secondary compounds in the diet

    Clinical biochemistry and molecular biology, particularly in relation to the molecular basis of oncogenesis

    Current projects


    1. Mass Spectral Analysis of Fingerprints (with Dr David Berryman)

    Traditionally, after enhancement of a latent fingerprint, the minutiae are measured. These are the characteristics of the ridges in the print and they vary from person to person. But the use of new technology such as the MALDI-TOF analyser at Murdoch University could herald a revolution in the use of fingerprinting to identify perpetrators of crime. The equipment scans a surface on which a fingerprint has been deposited and analyses the fingerprint for minute amounts of specific compounds that have been secreted from the skin. The detection of substances such as fatty acids in the fingerprint allows the machine to develop a coloured image of the fingerprint ridges. But more importantly the operator can key in a search for a range of secreted substances such as drugs or hormones such that a whole profile of compounds can be identified. By analysing for male and female hormones, it could allow a latent fingerprint to be identified as having been deposited by a man or by a woman. The presence of illicit drugs in the print could indicate that the person was  consuming or had been handling substances such as amphetamines or heroin. Furthermore the profile of substances secreted from the skin varies with age and with the physiological state of the individual. Consequently information could be obtained about the health status of the person who deposited the print and whether they were young or old. There is a lot of research to be done in this new area of fingerprint technology, but the potential is enormous. The application of the technology extends beyond fingerprinting. By scanning for ink dyes, changes to legal documents can be detected, and because of the sensitivity of the technique, text invisible to the naked eye can not only be seen, but can be read as well. Projects are suited to both Honours and PhD students.

    2. Blood Pattern Analysis in Association with WA Police

    The analysis of blood spatter at crime scenes is important in helping to reconstruct the crime  and to determine where at the scene the victim was positioned when attacked (region of origin). Projects are being conducted to investigate whether the viscosity of the victim’s blood affects the type of pattern produced and if this impacts upon the accuracy of the region of origin calculations. 0ther projects are focused on determining the age of blood stains at crime scenes using reflectance spectroscopy. Determination of the age of a blood stain can be important in fixing the time of the crime in relation to the known or claimed movements of a suspect.

    3. Clinical Projects in Major Hospitals (RPH, PMH, QEII, Fremantle Hospital) and in Medical Research Institutes (TICHR and LIWA)

    - molecular biology of prostate, breast and colorectal cancer

    - adoptive cell therapy for the treatment of metastatic melanoma

    - hereditary haemochromatosis

    - asthma and allergy in children

    - biomarkers for earlier detection of malignant mesothelioma

    - diseases of calcium metabolism

    - leukaemia in children

    - osteoporosis in older women

    - immunology of anaphylaxis

    - brain tumours

    Projects are available at Honours and PhD level


    1. Problem Solving in Biochemistry: Forensic and Medical Perspectives

    A new textbook, due for completion in 2013

    2. Forensic Toxicology: Villains, Victims and Scientists

    A revised and expanded version of my current text, Introduction to Forensic Toxicology, due for completion in early 2014



    Awards and grants


    2012: Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award (General Teaching Excellence in the Discipline)

    2009: Australian Learning and Teaching Council National Award for Teaching Excellence (Biological Sciences, Health and Related Studies)

    2007:  Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning

    2007:  Vice Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence in Enhancing Learning

    2006: Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award (General Teaching Excellence in the Discipline)

    1994:  Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award (General Teaching Excellence in the Discipline)

    1970: CSIRO Postgraduate Scholarship

    1968: Swan Brewery Prize in Biochemistry

    1967: Lady James Prize in Natural Science

    1967: BJ Grieve Prize in Botany

    1966: Science Union Prize in Botany

    Grants and Other Sources of Funding

    1995-2012: Teaching Awards $46,000

    2007 UDF: $70,000

    2004 Special Research Allocation Fund: $130,000

    2004: Dept of Conservationa and Land Management: $105,000

    2003 Board of Research: $40,000

    1997 International Links Program: $3,000

    1981-1987: Special Research grant (Category A): $39,400

    1981-1987: Agriculture Protection Board; $115,000





    Professional and community service

    Member of the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society

    OLT Assessor for National Teaching Grants and National Teaching Excellence Awards

    Regular preparation of expert testimony and its delivery in Criminal and Civil Courts via the DPP and private legal firms

    Dissemination of science to the general community via radio (ABC) and television (SBS and GWN networks). I have scripted and presented: The Science Show; Biota; Medicus; Science in Action and Ockham’s Razor (with Robyn Williams) over many years

    Consultant for the ABC’s national television series, “Atoms Alive”, aimed at year 12 Biological Science students

    Consultant for the wildlife film “Deadly Protectors” (Catspaw Pictures) which describes our 1080 research, from which the Department of Environment and Conservation’s Western Shield Program has been derived

    Development and delivery of outreach programs for secondary school students, particularly via the Murdoch University Science Summer School




    Doctoral and masters supervisions

    PhD Candidates

    Laurie E. Twigg: Evolutionary Significance of Monofluoroacetic Acid in Relation to Plant Animal Interaction in Australia: Awarded 1986

    Simon R. Langton: Clinical Significance of Phospholipase A2: Awarded 1994

    Eleanor A Woodward: Suppression of Inflammatory Cytokine Production in Activated Human Monocytes (with Dr Prue Hart, Telethon Institute of Child Health Research): Awarded 2012

    Mark G Feldwick: Metabolism and Toxicology of the Pesticide, Gliftor: Completed with 4 peer-reviewed Journal articles; thesis not submitted

    Lisa M Holmes: Investigation of a link between recurrent miscarriage and the presence of FRX auto antibodies (with Dr Quintin Hughes, Royal Perth Hospital): Current; commenced 2010




    • Nolan, A., Mead, R., Maker, G., Speers, S., (2019), A review of the biochemical products produced during mammalian decomposition with the purpose of determining the post-mortem interval, Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, , , pages 1 - 12.
    • Aplin, S., Mark, R., Mead, R., Speers, S., (2019), The Influence of Hematocrit Value on Area of Origin Estimations for Blood Source in Bloodstain Pattern Analysis, Journal of Forensic Identification, 69, 2, pages 163 -.
    • Nolan, A., Mead, R., Maker, G., Bringans, S., Chapman, B., Speers, S., (2019), Examination of the temporal variation of peptide content indecomposition fluid under controlled conditions using pigs as human substitutes, Forensic Science International: Genetics, 298, , pages 161 - 168.
    • Nolan, A., Maker, G., Mead, R., Bringans, S., Speers, S., (2019), The impact of environmental factors on the production of peptides in mammalian decomposition fluid in relation to the estimation of post-mortem interval: A summer/winter comparison in Western Australia (PLS UPLOAD PDF OF PUBLISHED ARTICLE), Forensic Science International, 303, 2019 Oct, pages -.
    • Jones, M., Wilson, S., Mullin, B., Mead, R., Dudbridge, F., Watts, G., Stuckey, B., (2008), Polymorphism in postinsulin receptor signaling pathway is not associated with polycystic ovary syndrome, Fertility and Sterility, 90, 6, pages 2298 - 2303.
    • Mead, R., Jones, M., Mullin, B., Stuckey, B., Watts, G., Wilson, S., (2007), Polymorphism of the follistatin gene in polycystic ovary syndrome, Molecular Human Reproduction, 13, 4, pages 237 - 241.
    • Jones, M., Italiano, L., Wilson, S., Mullin, B., Mead, R., Dudbridge, F., Watts, G., Stuckey, B., (2006), Polymorphism in HSD17B6 is associated with key features of polycystic ovary syndrome., Fertility and Sterility, 86, 5, pages 1438 - 1446.

    Mead, RJ and Segal, W (1971), Chemotaxonomy and Biosynthetic Relationships of Boletineae Pigments. Biochemical Journal 121(1), 26-27 

    Mead, RJ and Segal, W (1972), Fluoroacetic acid Biosynthesis: a Proposed Mechanism. Australian Journal of Biological Sciences 25(2), 327 – 334

    Mead, RJ and Segal, W (1973), Formation of Cyanoalanine and Pyruvate by Acacia georginae. Phytochemistry 12(8), 1977-1981  

    Oliver, AJ, King, DR and Mead, RJ (1977), The Evolution of Resistance to Fluoroacetate Intoxication in Mammals. Search (Syd) 8, 130-132

    King, DR, Oliver, AJ and Mead, RJ (1978), The Adaptation of Some Western Australian Mammals to Food Plants Containing Fluoroacetate. Australian Journal of Zoology 26(4) 699-712

    Oliver, AJ, King, DR and Mead, RJ (1979) Fluoroacetate Tolerance, a Genetic Marker in Some Australian Mammals. Australian Journal of Zoology 27(3) 363-372

    Mead, RJ, Oliver, AJ and King, DR (1979) Metabolism and Defluorination of Fluoroacetate in the Brush-Tailed Possum (Trichosurus Vulpecula). Australian Journal of Biological Sciences 32(1) 15-26

    King, DR, Oliver, AJ and Mead, RJ (1981), Bettongia and Fluoroacetate: a Role for 1080 in Fauna Management. Australian Wildlife Research 8(3) 529-536

    Mead, RJ, Oliver, AJ, King, DR and Hubach, PH (1985), The Co-Evolutionary Role of Fluoroacetate in Plant-Animal Interactions in Australia Oikos 44, 55-60

    Mead, RJ, Twigg, LE and King, DR (1985), The Tolerance to Fluoroacetate of Geographically Separated Populations of the Quokka (Setonix brachyurus). Australian Zoologist 21, (6-7) 503-512

    Mead, RJ, Moulden, DL and Twigg, LE (1985), Significance of Sulfhydryl Compounds in the Manifestation of Fluoroacetate Toxicity to the Rat, Brush-tailed Possum, Woylie and Western Grey Kangaroo. Australian Journal of Biological Sciences 38(1) 139-150

    Twigg, LE, Mead, RJ and King, DR (1986), Metabolism of Fluoroacetate in the Skink (Tiliqua rugosa) and the Rat (Rattus norvegicus). Australian Journal of Biological Sciences 39(1) 1-16

    Twigg, LE, King, DR, Davis, HM, Saunders, DA and Mead, RJ (1988), Tolerance to, and Metabolism of, Fluoroacetate in the Emu.  Australian Wildlife Research 15(3) 239-247

    Twigg, LE and Mead, RJ (1989), Comparative Metabolism of, and Sensitivity to, Fluoroacetate in Geographically Separated Populations of Tiliqua-Rugosa (Gray) (Scincidae).  Aust J Zool 37(6) 617-626

    Twigg, LE, King, DR, and Mead, RJ (1990), Tolerance to Fluoroacetate of Populations of Isoodon and Macrotis and its Implications for Fauna Management.  In “Bandicoots and Bilbies” (Ed. J. Seebeck)

    Mead, RJ, Feldwick, MG and Bunn, JT (1991), 1,3-Difluoro-2-Propanol: a Potential Replacement for 1080 in Fauna Management Programs in Australia. Wildlife Research 18(1) 27-37

    Feldwick, MG, Noakes, PS, Prause, U, Mead, RJ and Kostyniak, PJ (1998), The Biochemical Toxicology of 1,3-Difluoro-2-Propanol, the Major Ingredient of the Pesticide Gliftor: The Potential of 4-Methylpyrazole as an Antidote. Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology, 12 (1), 41-52

    Menon, KI, Feldwick, MG, Noakes, PS and Mead, RJ (2001), The Mode of Toxic Action of the Pesticide Gliftor: The Metabolism of 1,3-Difluoroacetone to (−)-erythro-Fluorocitrate. Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology, 15 (1) 47-54

    Deanasen A, Mullin BH, Hart DJ, Dudbridge F, Mead RJ, Spector TD, Wilson SG (2008) The effect of variation in the GNL3 gene on bone mineral density in two populations of Caucasian women. Proceedings of the 18th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian & New Zealand Bone & Mineral Society; 28-30

    Mead, RJ (2007). Accused and Convicted. Proc. Royal Soc. of West Aust. (July 2007)

    Mead, RJ and Cake, MH. (1987). Problem Solving in Biochemistry.  Proc. Aust. Biochem. Soc 19 S80.


    Mead, RJ (1985) Acid Base Balance, An Integrated Approach, JE Pilpel and Co. 220 pages

    Popular Articles

    Mead, RJ. (1985). The Biological Arms Race. Aust. Science Mag. 14, 60-66. This magazine is directed at year 12 students to stimulate their interest in science.

    Mead, RJ. (1986). Nature’s Chemical Warfare in “The Best of Ockham’s Razor”.  Published by the ABC, the series is designed to educate the public in the application of science.