Research Network for Metals in Medicine



Professor F Richard Keene

BSc, PhD, DSc(Adelaide), CChem, FRSC, FRACI

Position: Nevitt Professor of Chemistry

Affiliation: School of Pharmacy and Molecular Sciences James Cook University

Postal Address:
School of Pharmacy and Molecular Sciences
James Cook University
Douglas Campus
Townsville, Queensland 4811

Phone: +61 (07) 4781 4433
Fax: +61 (07) 4781 4078

Research Profile

Research interests involve synthetic transition metal chemistry and ligand synthesis; aspects of the stereochemistry of polymetallic supramolecular assemblies; reactivity of coordinated ligands, including kinetic and mechanistic studies of proton exchange processes, electron transfer reactions, intermolecular and intramolecular ligand hydrolyses, oxygen transfer reactions, oxidative dehydrogenation of ligands; electrochemistry and the modification of electrode surfaces; photochemistry; catalysis of carbon dioxide reactivity by transition metal centres; bonding, structural and stability studies in metal complexes.

The most significant research contribution in recent years has been the enunciation of the stereochemical problem arising from the use of the tris(bidentate) motifs as building blocks for polymetallic molecular assemblies - and the development of stereoretentive synthetic methods and a general chromatographic procedure (based on cation-exchange chromatography) which have allowed the isolation of individual stereoisomers of a range of mono- and oligo-nuclear species. This has led to investigation of intramolecular electron transfer processes in polymetallic species, and studies of the factors affecting the interaction of polymetallic species with biological molecules such as DNA.

Research Achievements:

  • 1979 Rennie Medallist of Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI);
  • Fulbright Award in 1983-84 for a 12 month visit to the U.S.A.;
  • Elected as a Fellow of the RACI, 1986;
  • Appointed as an Honorary Research Fellow of the University of Central Queensland (Rockhampton) for the period 1993-1998, and a Professorial Fellow from 1998-2001;
  • Appointed as a Professeur Invité at the Université Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg (France), 1994 and 2000;
  • JCU Prestige Research Award in 1996;
  • Awarded a Personal Chair by JCU in 1997; appointed to Nevitt Chair of Chemistry, JCU, 2001;
  • Commonwealth Fellow under the auspices of the Bede Morris Scheme of the Australian Academy of Science for period May-June 1998 which was undertaken in Strasbourg (France);
  • Awarded a DSc by the University of Adelaide in 1998;
  • Erskine Visiting Research Fellow, University of Canterbury (Christchurch, NZ), 2000;
  • Appointed to Editorial Board, Supramolecular Chemistry, 2001-present;
  • National Secretary, Division of Inorganic Chemistry, RACI, 1996-2000;
  • Elected Chairman, Division of Inorganic Chemistry, RACI, 2001- present;
  • Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (U.K.), 2001;
  • Vice-Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award, JCU, 2002;
  • Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research Supervision, JCU, 2002

Selected Publications

  1. “Total Enantioselectivity in the DNA Binding of the Dinuclear Ruthenium(II) Complex [{Ru(Me2bpy)2}2(m-bpm)]4+ {bpm = 2,2'-bipyrimidine; Me2bpy = 4,4'-dimethyl-2,2'-bipyridine}”, J. A. Smith, J. G. Collins, B. T. Patterson and F. R. Keene, submitted for publication.
  2. “Synthetic and Stereochemical Studies of Dinuclear Ruthenium(II) with Mixed Terminal Ligands”, B.T. Patterson, F. M. Foley, D. Richards, and F. R. Keene, Dalton Transactions, 709-714 (2003).
  3. "Dinuclear Ruthenium(II) Complexes as Probes for DNA Bulge Sites ", J.G. Collins, F.M. Foley and F.R. Keene, J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans., 4343-4350 (2002). "Stereoselective Interaction and Photo-Electron Transfer between Mononucleotides or DNA and the Stereoisomers of a Dinuclear Ru(II) HAT Complex", A. Broadkorb, A. Kirsch- De Mesmaeker, T.J. Rutherford, and F.R. Keene, Eur. J. Inorg. Chem., 2151-2160 (2001).
  4. "The DNA Binding of the Dm-, DL- and LL-Stereoisomers of [{Ru(Me2bpy)2}2(m-bpm)]4+", F.M. Foley, F.R. Keene and J.G. Collins, J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans., 2968-2974 (2001).
  5. "Isolation of Enantiomers of a Range of Tris(bidentate)ruthenium(II) Species using Chromatographic Resolution and Stereoretentive Synthetic Methods", T.J. Rutherford, P.A. Pellegrini, J. Aldrich-Wright, P.C. Junk, and F.R. Keene, Eur. J. Inorg. Chem., 1677-1688 (1998).
  6. "Isolation and Characterisation of Stereoisomers in Di- and Tri-nuclear Complexes", F.R. Keene, Chem. Soc. Rev., 27, 185-193 (1998).
  7. "Stereoisomers of Mono-, Di- and Tri-ruthenium(II) Complexes Containing the Bridging Ligand 1,4,5,8,9,12-Hexaazatriphenylene (HAT), and Studies of their Photophysical and Redox Properties", T.J. Rutherford, O. Van Gijte, A. Kirsch - De Mesmaeker, and F.R. Keene, Inorg. Chem., 36, 4465-4474 (1997).
  8. "Dinuclear Ruthenium Complexes as Sequence- and Structure-Selective Binding Agents for DNA", J.G. Collins, F.M. Foley, F.R. Keene, B.T. Patterson, and D. Richards, IC'03, National Conference of Inorganic Chemistry Division, Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Melbourne, February 2003.


  • Circular Dichroism
  • Fluorescence spectroscopy
  • Electrophoresis and other biochemistry techniques through collaboration with staff of Discipline of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at JCU
  • Electrospray-mass spectrometry

International Linkages

Assoc.-Prof. Yitzhak Tor (University of California at San Diego, U.S.A.)
Professor Andrée Kirsch-de Mesmaeker (Universitee Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium)