Keith is Molecular Virologist and group leader with a dual appointment within the Australian Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Institute and the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

His research is focused on vaccine development and the understanding of medically and environmentally significant viruses. Keith is one of the inventors of UQ’s molecular clamp platform and the second-generation molecular clamp that resolved HIV-1 the issue of diagnostic interference, which prevented progression of UQ’s COVID-19 vaccine into late-stage clinical trials in 2020.
Keith is the Chief Investigator on two major research programs built upon the second-generation molecular clamp. Keith leads UQ’s Rapid Response Vaccine Pipeline, which is funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which aims to safeguard against future pandemics through the production of safe and effective vaccines within highly accelerated timelines. Keith also leads a program of contract research conducted for UQ spinout, Vicebio Ltd. This work focuses on the early preclinical development improved of vaccines for respiratory viruses for which there is existing medical need.
Keith completed his PhD at the University of Queensland in 2007 on the structure and function of flavivirus NS3 protease. Subsequently, he spent three years (2007-2010) as a post-doctoral researcher at one of Spain’s most respected research institutes, Instituto Salud Carlos III, where he conducted research on the fusion protein of Respiratory Syncytial virus as a target for conformationally specific neutralizing antibodies. Keith returned to UQ in 2011 and his research has focused on understanding of many medically and environmentally important viruses and bacteria, particularly focussing on Influenza, Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), SARS-CoV-2, Koala Retrovirus and Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Collaborations and Industry Engagement

Keith is the Lead Scientific Advisor for Vicebio. The Molecular clamp technology has been exclusively licensed to Vicebio by UniQuest, the commercialisation company of UQ.
Vicebio is progressing its RSV vaccine candidate (VXB-211) through preclinical and development activities with the objective to start a Phase 1 proof-of-concept clinical study during the second half of 2023. The ambition is to deliver an RSV vaccine with best-in-class efficacy as a ready-to-use fully liquid formulation. In the future, Vicebio will apply the Molecular Clamp technology to develop multivalent formulations targeting several respiratory viruses into ready-to-use single shot vaccines.

Key publications

All publications are listed here.
Chappell, Keith J., Mordant, Francesca L., Li, Zheyi, Wijesundara, Danushka K., Ellenberg, Paula, Lackenby, Julia A., Cheung, Stacey T. M., Modhiran, Naphak, Avumegah, Michael S., Henderson, Christina L., Hoger, Kym, Griffin, Paul, Bennet, Jillian, Hensen, Luca, Zhang, Wuji, Nguyen, Thi H. O., Marrero-Hernandez, Sara, Selva, Kevin J., Chung, Amy W., Tran, Mai H., Tapley, Peter, Barnes, James, Reading, Patrick C., Nicholson, Suellen, Corby, Stavroula, Holgate, Thomas, Wines, Bruce D., Hogarth, P Mark, Kedzierska, Katherine ... Munro, Trent P. (2021). Safety and immunogenicity of an MF59-adjuvanted spike glycoprotein-clamp vaccine for SARS-CoV-2: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 1 trial. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 21 (10), 1383-1394. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(21)00200-0
Magro, Margarita, Mas, Vicente, Chappell, Keith, Vázquez, Mónica, Cano, Olga, Luque, Daniel, Terrón, María C., Melero, José A. and Palomo, Concepción (2012). Neutralizing antibodies against the preactive form of respiratory syncytial virus fusion protein offer unique possibilities for clinical intervention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, 109 (8), 3089-3094. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1115941109
O’Donnell, Jake S., Isaacs, Ariel, Jakob, Virginie, Lebas, Celia, Barnes, James B., Reading, Patrick C., Young, Paul R., Watterson, Daniel, Dubois, Patrice M., Collin, Nicolas and Chappell, Keith J. (2022). Characterization and comparison of novel adjuvants for a prefusion clamped MERS vaccine. Frontiers in Immunology, 13 976968. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.976968
Blyton, Michaela D. J., Pyne, Michael, Young, Paul and Chappell, Keith (2022). Koala retrovirus load and non-A subtypes are associated with secondary disease among wild northern koalas. PLoS Pathogens, 18 (5) e1010513, 1-20. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1010513
Yu, Tianxiong, Koppetsch, Birgit S, Pagliarani, Sara, Johnston, Stephen, Silverstein, Noah J, Luban, Jeremy, Chappell, Keith, Weng, Zhiping and Theurkauf, William E (2019). The piRNA response to retroviral invasion of the koala genome. Cell, 179 (3), 632-643.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.09.002


Keith is the co-creator of the molecular clamp platform technology, which has potential to produce vaccines for many medically significant viral pathogens. This technology has received a total of over $30 million in investment from Australian competitive grant schemes, international funders, and philanthropic organisations, and Keith now leads a team of 12 researchers.
Individual grant funds are listed here.
Featured projects Duration
Preclinical Development of a vaccine for HTLV-1
Rapid Response Vaccine Pipeline