Research Network for Metals in Medicine



Associate Professor Tim StPierre

Position: Associate Professor, Physics

Affiliation: University of Western Australia, School of Physics

Postal Address:
School of Physics
The University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley WA 6009

Phone: +61 (08) 6488 2747

Research Profile

Associate Professor St Pierre is a biophysicist. From 1991-93 he was the recipient of a Cooley’s Anemia Foundation (New York) Fellowship. From 1993 to 1995 he was appointed as Senior Research Fellow (ARC funded) in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at Murdoch University. From 1995 to the present he has been employed as a member of faculty in the School of Physics at The University of Western Australia. His research career has centred on investigating the structure and magnetic properties of biogenic iron minerals and their interactions with external magnetic fields. These studies have had particular relevance to understanding the toxicity, chelatability and non-invasive detection and quantification of pathological iron deposits such as hemosiderin in iron overload diseases including thalassaemia and hereditary haemochromatosis. His studies have resulted in 81 refereed publications in international journals, 3 invited book chapters, 6 book chapters (conference proceedings), 2 articles in national professional journals, and an international patent. The international patent has resulted in the formation of a spin-off company, Inner Vision Biometrics Pty Ltd and the formation of an ASX listed company Resonance Health Ltd. A/Prof St Pierre has been invited to speak at several international conferences (keynote speaker at three international conferences) and was invited to participate in the NIH Workshop on Non-invasive Iron Measurement held in Washington DC in 2001. He has won 23 research grants since 1991 (as chief or co-chief investigator) totalling over $2.4 million. He also has consultancy contracts with the Swiss-based pharmaceutical company, Novartis Pharma.

A/Prof St Pierre works in the field of the structure and magnetism of nanoscale iron oxides, particularly those found in biological systems. His most significant contributions lie in his multidisciplinary approach to the subject. By bringing together a physical approach and chemical approach to the problem several new insights into the structure-magnetism relationship have been gained. For example, he and his team have developed methods of building iron oxide particles within ferritin cages with both controlled numbers of iron atoms and controlled degrees of crystallinity. In addition, the use of polysaccharide templates has enabled the synthesis of rod-like iron oxide nanoparticles. This has enabled an unprecedented systematic investigation into the relationships between structure and magnetic properties of oxide nanoparticles. Much of A/Prof St. Pierre's recent research has been aimed at the application of results from this research field to biomedical problems. In particular, his investigations have led to a greater understanding of the structure of pathogenic iron deposits in iron overload disorders such as thalassaemia and haemochromatosis. Research into exploiting the magnetic properties of iron in magnetic resonance imaging has resulted in an international patent and the establishment of a start-up company to commercialise novel methodologies.

Selected Publications

  1. Chua-anusorn, W., Mun, H.-R., Webb, J., Gorham, N.T., St. Pierre, T.G. (2002) Effect of precipitation temperature and number of iron atoms per molecule on structure of hydrated iron(III) oxyhydroxide ferritin cores synthesised in vitro. Hyperfine Interactions, 144/145, 279-288.
  2. Sipos, P., Berkesi, O., Tombacz, E., St. Pierre, T.G., and Webb, J. (2003) Formation of spherical iron(III) oxyhydroxide nanoparticles sterically stabilized by chitosan in aqueous solutions. J. Inorg. Biochem., 95, 55-63.
  3. Pardoe, H., Chua-anusorn, W., St. Pierre, T.G., Dobson, J. (2003) Detection limits for ferrimagnetic particle concentrations using magnetic resonance imaging based proton transverse relaxation rate measurements. Phys. Med. Biol. 48, N89-N95.
  4. Clark, P.R., Chua-anusorn, W., and St. Pierre, T.G. (2003) Bi-exponential proton transverse relaxation rate (R2) image analysis using RF field intensity-weighted spin density projection: potential for R2 measurement of iron-loaded liver. Mag. Reson. Imaging 21, 519-530.
  5. Clark, P.R., Chua-anusorn, W., and St. Pierre, T.G. (2003) Proton transverse relaxation rate (R2) images of liver tissue: mapping local tissue iron concentrations with MRI. Mag. Reson. Med. 49, 572-575.
  6. Pardoe, H., Clark, P., St. Pierre, T.G., Moroz, P., and Jones, S.K. (2003) A magnetic resonance imaging based method for measurement of tissue iron concentration in liver arterially embolized with ferrimagnetic particles designed for magnetic hyperthermia treatment of tumours. Magnetic Resonance Imaging 21, 483-488.
  7. Harris, L.A., Goff, J. D., Carmichael, A. Y., Riffle, J. S., Harburn, J. J., St. Pierre, T.G., and Saunders, M. (2003) Magnetite Nanoparticle Dispersions Stabilized with Triblock Copolymers. Chem. Mater. 15, 1367-1377.
  8. Hart, R.D., St. Pierre, T.G., Gilkes, R.J., McKinley, A.J., Siradz, S., Singh, B. (2002) Iron in soil kaolins from Indonesia and Western Australia. Clay Minerals 37, 671-685.
  9. M. Loan, T.G. St. Pierre, G.M. Parkinson, O.G.M. Newman, and J.B. Farrow (2002) Identifying nanoscale ferrihydrite in hydrometallurgical residues, JOM - J. Miner. Met. Mater. Soc., 54 (12), 40-43


  • High Sensitivity Magnetic Properties Measurement System For non-destructive investigations of iron compounds in biological systems
  • In-vivo imaging of liver iron concentrations using MRI For tracking both pathological iron deposits as well as magnetic metal-based pharmaceuticals on length scales greater than one millimetre
  • Mössbauer spectroscopy (samples temperatures from 3K to room temperature) For investigating the chemical speciation of iron in biological systems
  • Elemental and isotopic imaging using electron microscopes (in collaboration with Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis) For tracking metals in biological systems at the 100 nm scale and above.

International Linkages

Prof Judy Riffle, Virginia Tech, USA – collaboration on design and synthesis of magnetic nanoparticles for use in biomedical applications.