Primary research interest

Organic chemistry - synthesis and isolation of complex natural products, method development, medicinal and physical organic chemistry

Personal website

Craig Williams website

About me

After completing my BSc (Hons) and PhD (1997) at Flinders University of South Australia I was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen, Germany from 1997-1999 and an Australian National University Post-doctoral Fellow at the Research School of Chemistry (1999-2000), Canberra, Australia. Appointment to my first academic position was in 2000 at the University of Queensland and now I hold the position of Associate professor currently supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship.

Research focus and collaborations

Our research focus concentrates on three areas: 1) investigating strategies towards the total synthesis of very complex natural products (including, for example, the Vibsanin family, Diterpene Alkaloids, and tetranortriterpenes), and 2) designing and discovering novel biologically active molecules for use as medicines (design and synthesis of novel entities for the treatment of cancer, in collaboration with Prof. Peter Parsons Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Alzheimer’s in collaboration with A/Prof. Helen Cooper of (QBI) and A/Prof. Peter Dodd (SCMB), and Pain in collaboration with Prof. Maree Smith (UQ Pharmancy, TetraQ). Research area 1 is viewed as a medium to exercise and increase scholarly learning in that extremely complex targets are approached, which ultimately prepare the group for solving problems and producing successful outcomes for research area 2. In addition, we 1) design and develop new synthetic methods for new modes of constructing chemical bonds that are synthetically useful; 2) enjoy dabbling in physical organic and computational chemistry; and 3) have a strong industrial collaboration with EcoBiotics Ltd in the area of natural product isolation/elucidation.


  • Prof. Tim Clarke (Uni Erlangen, Germany) DFT Calculations
  • Prof. Marc Maudit ( ) Organometallic reagents
  • Prof. Huw Davies (Emory, US) Synthetic methods
  • Prof. Richard O'Hair (Uni Melbourne) Reaction mass spectrometry
  • Prof. Charles Zercher (Uni New Hampshire, US) Organometallic reagents
  • Prof. Stefan Bräse (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany) Synthetic methodology
  • Dr.s Paul Savage, John Tsanaktsidis, Oliver Hutt (CSIRO) Drug development and synthetic methodology
  • Dr.s Victoria Gordon and Paul Reddell (EcoBiotics Limited)
  • Dr. Elizabeth Krenske (SCMB) DFT Calculations

Projects and patents

Funded projects

  • ARC Discovery Project, Linking Chemical Synthesis with Protein Discovery to Reveal Key Biological Pathways, total value of grant: $420,000
  • ARC Future Fellowship, Introducing the Cubane Ring System as a Surrogate to the Benzene Ring: An Evolutionary Step in Pharmaceutical and Agrochemical design principles. Total value of grant: $817,000
  • ANR Discovery project (France), Sequential 1,6/1,4-Asymmetric Conjugate Addition and Tandem Enolate Trapping: Applications in Total Synthesis of Natural Products. Total value of grant: $432,000 (Euros)
  • ARC Discovery Project, Chemically re-engineering bioactive natural products using fragment-based drug design. Total value of grant: $400,000.00


  • Smith, M.T., Brown, L., Harvey, M.B.P. and Williams, C.M. (2003) ‘Methods and compositions including nitric oxide donors and opioid analgesics for pain relief’, PCT Int. Appl.

Teaching interests

  • Organic chemistry
  • Synthesis and retrosynthesis in organic chemistry
  • Advanced synthesis and retrosynthesis in organic chemistry

Achievements and awards 

  • Faculty OH&S Committee member
  • Recent past Chair School OH&S Committee member
  • Consulting to local biotechnology industry


  • Smith, M.T., Brown, L., Harvey, M.B.P. and Williams, C.M. (2003) ‘Methods and compositions including nitric oxide donors and opioid analgesics for pain relief’, PCT Int. Appl.

Featured publications

Researcher biography

A/Prof. Williams obtained a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D in synthetic organic chemistry from Flinders University (South Australia) under the supervision of Prof. Rolf Prager. He held an Alexander von Humboldt post-doctorial appointment at the University of Göttingen in Germany (Prof. Armin de Meijere) and an Australian National University post-doctorial fellowship in Canberra (Prof. Lewis N. Mander) before being appointed as a Lecturer in Organic Chemistry at the University of Queensland in 2000. Currently he holds the position of Associate Professor supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship.

A/Prof. Williams' is the Group Leader of the Natural Products Total Synthesis group in the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, Faculty of Science at the University of Queensland. He is an organic chemist with a research focus and expertise orientated around constructing and attempting to construct very complex biologically active natural products and drug like molecules. These projects have instilled highlevel chemical competency within his group, which allow the team to tackle both simple and complex problems in associated areas such as medicinal and physical chemistry. Targets and areas of expertise cover diterpenes, diterpene alkaloids, alkaloids/opioids, tetranortriterpenes, polyketides, polycyclic hydrocarbons, saturated and unsaturated nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur containing heterocycles. A/Prof. Williams also undertakes isolation and elucidation of natural products, although much of this work has not been published due to commercial in confidence research contracts with local BioTechnology companies.