Prof. Andrew B. Holmes

Andrew Holmes obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees at the University of Melbourne where he worked with Professor L.M. Jackman. His PhD (1971) on heteroannulenes with Franz Sondheimer at University College London was supported by a Shell (Australia) Science Scholarship. The transition to natural products synthesis was made as a result of a postdoctoral spell at the E.T.H. working on the final stages of the synthesis of vitamin B12 with Professor A. Eschenmoser. He was appointed to an assistant lectureship at Cambridge in 1972. In 1977 he gained tenure and was appointed to a lectureship until he took the position of Director of the Melville Laboratory for Polymer Synthesis in 1994. He was promoted to a personal Readership in 1995 and to a personal Professorship in 1998. In September 2004 he moved to become Professor of Organic and Polymer Chemistry at Imperial College and in October, 2004 was also appointed ARC Federation Fellow and inaugural VESKI Fellow at the Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne and at CSIRO Molecular and Health Technologies. In May 2010, he was appointed as Foreign Secretary of the Australian Academy of Science. He is currently the President of the Australian Academy of Science.


University of Melbourne

  • B.Sc. (1st Class Honours, 1964)
  • M.Sc. (1967)
  • Shell Overseas Science Scholarship (1967-1971)

University College London 

  • Ph.D. (1971) “Synthesis of Large Ring Conjugated Compounds” (Professor F. Sondheimer)

University of Cambridge

  • M.A. (1973)
  • Sc.D. (1997)

University of Oxford

  • M.A., D.Sc. (2011)

Research Interests

Professor Holmes’ research interests span a range of natural and non-natural synthetic targets. In the natural products area he has concentrated on biologically active piperidine and indolizidine alkaloids, marine cyclic ethers, medium ring unsaturated lactams, and the potential application of these materials to alkaloid synthesis and novel peptidomimetics. A recent interest has been the use of phosphoinositides to probe downstream intracellular signalling processes, where the use of phosphatidyl inositol polyphosphate affinity matrices in collaboration with the Babraham Institute (Cambridge) and the Ludwig Cancer Institute (Melbourne) has revealed many new proteins involved in intracellular signalling pathways.

Professor Holmes developed an interest in conjugated polymers as a result of an interdisciplinary collaboration with the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. This collaboration led to the discovery of the first polymeric light emitting diodes and the subsequent interest in organic and polymeric materials for optoelectronic applications. The current focus of activities is in the development of printed solar cells as large area and low cost sources of renewable energy.  The University of Melbourne is the lead partner in the Victorian Organic Solar Cells Consortium (see involving Melbourne and Monash universities and CSIRO Future Manufacturing Flagship with industrial partners BlueScope Steel, Securency International, Innovia Films Limited and Robert Bosch SEA.  Funding is provided by the Australian Solar Institute (ASI) and the Victorian State Government Departments of Business and Innovation (DBI) and Primary Industries (DPI).

Editorial Contributions

Chairman, Editorial Board of Chemical Communications (2000-2003)

Principal Editor, Journal of Materials Research (1994-2000)

Member, Board of Editors of Organic Syntheses, Inc., (1997-2001).

Associate Editor, Organic Letters (2005- )


Royal Society Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship, 1993-4

Alfred Bader Award, Royal Society of Chemistry, 1994

Materials Science Award, Royal Society of Chemistry, 1995

Novartis Lectureship, 1998

William G. Dauben Lecturer, University of California, Berkeley, 1999-2000

Elected FRS 11 May, 2000

Elected FinstP, July, 2000

Pfizer Global Research Lecture, University of Toronto, November 2001

Aggarwal Lecturer, Cornell University, May 2002

Wilsmore Visiting Professor, University of Melbourne

Tilden Award and Lecturer, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2003

EU Descartes Prize (co-recipient), 2003

Appointed Member of the Order of Australia (AM), 26 January 2004

Federation Fellowship, Australia 2004-2009

Macro Group UK Medal for Outstanding Achievement, Royal Soc Chem/Soc Chem Ind, 2003

Inaugural Victorian Endowment for Science Knowledge Innovation (VESKI) Fellow, 2004-2009; Continuing VESKI Fellow 2009-

Merck-Karl Pfister Visiting Professorship, MIT, January 2005

Elected Fellow, Australian Academy of Science, 23 March, 2006

Heinlen Hall Lecturer 2006, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, 5-9 June, 2006

Elected Fellow, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, November 2006

Royal Society of Chemistry Merck Research Lectureship, 2007 April-May, 2008

Appointed CSIRO Fellow, 19 September 2008

Merck Lecturer, University of Cambridge, May 2009

Hans Kupczyk Foundation Guest Professor, University of Ulm, November 2009

Robert Robinson Lecturer, University of Oxford, May 2010

Doctor Honoris Causa, Universiteit Hasselt, Belgium, 19th November, 2010

John B Goodenough Award of Royal Society of Chemistry (Materials Chemistry Division), 2011

Newton Abraham Visiting Professor, University of Oxford, 2011

Honorary Fellow, University College London, 5th September, 2012

Royal Medal for applied and interdisciplinary science, The Royal Society, 30th November 2012

Elected MRS Fellow, Materials Research Society, 2 April 2013

Elected Honorary Fellow, Chemical Research Society of India, 11 February, 2013

External Lectures

Nozoe Memorial Lecturer, 15th International Symposium on Novel Aromatic Compounds (ISNA-15), Taiwan, August 2013

The Chemical Record (TCR) Lecturer, Chemical Society of Japan Annual Meeting, March 2013

Newton Abraham Public Lecture, Natural History Museum, University of Oxford, 6 February 2012

John B Goodenough Award Lecture, Materials Chem Div, RSC, University of Birmingham, 14 February, 2012

Invited Lecture, Joint Chinese Chemical Society-RSC Symposium, Sichuan University Chengdu, 14 April 2012

Invited Lecture, IUPAC World Polymer Congress, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, 25 June 2012

Invited Lecture, ACS 244th National Meeting, Philadelphia, Div. Energy and Fuel Cells, 21 Aug 2012

Organic Chemistry Seminar, University of Ulm, 13th Sep 2012

Dillon Steele Lecture, University of Queensland, 27 Sep 2012

H Dudley Wright Foundation Colloquium Lecturer, University of Geneva, 11 – 16 November, 2012

Invited Lecturer, ICMS-RMIT Nanomaterials Workshop, Nehru Centre, Bangalore, 28-29 January, 2013