Associate Professor Kathryn Steadman

Associate Professor

School of Pharmacy
Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences

Affiliated Associate Professor

Centre for Plant Science
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
+61 7 334 61886


I completed my Bachelor of Pharmacy at Kings College London, followed by pre-registration and subsequent employment as a pharmacist with Boots the Chemists in Central London. I then did my PhD in plant biochemistry with Royal Holloway College, University of London, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, followed by postdoctoral research positions at Cornell University, USA and The University of Western Australia.

At the end of 2006 I moved to the School of Pharmacy at The University of Queensland as a Senior Lecturer and was promoted in 2011 to Associate Professor. I was the Chair of Teaching and Learning for the School between 2009 and 2011. I am an affiliate of the Centre for Plant Science and the Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences within the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI).

After two periods of maternity leave during 2012-2014 I am currently working on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays while my children are young.

Research Interests

  • Pharmacologically active components of plants
    Plants contain a wide range of secondary compounds that may be useful as a medicinal product in the purified form, or as a nutraceutical or herbal remedy if used in a less refined form. Previous work has included isolation and identification of novel galactosyl-inositols from buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) seeds that may have a role in treatment or prevention of type II diabetes, identifying the stimulant methylxanthine components of guarana, which is prepared from Paullinia cupana seeds, and investigating Queensland macrofungi for antimicrobial activity. Current research: • Pituri, which is prepared from Australian species of Nicotiana (tobacco) mixed with wood ash, is chewed as a source of nicotine by Australian Aboriginal people. We are investigating the chemical components of Australian Nicotiana, pituri use in pregnancy and impact on neonatal health, and identification of plants in museum pituri collections.
  • Medicine delivery
    Plant secondary compounds, e.g. gums and mucilages, can be used as pharmaceutical excipients in drug delivery. Current research: • Sorghum, an economically important summer crop in Australia, is being investigated as a drug delivery agent in itself or as a source of components that may be extracted for use in slow release or controlled release formulations. • Plant gums and starches are used as thickeners to help dysphagic patients to safely swallow liquids. We are considering the effect of crushing and splitting tablets or capsules on drug stability, delivery and bioavailability, particularly where the crushed medications are mixed with thickened liquids with the potential to significantly delay drug dissolution. • Improving the treatment of xerostomia is being approached through design of novel technologies for saliva replacement, and through investigating options for buccal delivery of pilocarpine.
  • Complementary medicines
    Complementary Medicines are large category of products sold within pharmacies that include herbal medicines, nutritional supplements, vitamins & minerals, homeopathy and aromatherapy. Evidence supporting their efficacy for claimed indications is variable, with some being strong while others are exceptionally weak or non-existent. Current research: • People who have been diagnosed with cancer, and are being treated with curative intent (i.e. have a good chance of being cured), often choose to also use complementary medicines. We are investigating drivers behind these choices and the complementary medicines that they choose to use. • We are considering teething pain treatment for young children in terms of the options available to parents and choices made, and evidence for efficacy of complementary medicines for teething.
  • Plant biology
    • Seed longevity describes the ability to withstand extremely dry conditions for many years, retaining viability in order to germinate when eventually provided with water. This enables germplasm storage for future use, conserving the biodiversity that may one day provide important lead compounds in drug discovery. Research has included investigating the link between carbohydrate composition and seed longevity, the role of maternal environment, harvest and storage conditions on seed longevity, and the relationship between seed ageing in the soil vs. controlled storage. • Seed germination is an essential step in the production of a plant, whether for nutritional, pharmaceutical or ecological purposes. Research is directed towards understanding, controlling and predicting seed germination. This has included an ARC Discovery project investigating a novel blue light-regulated dormancy mechanism in Lolium rigidum, an ARC Linkage project directed at controlling and predicting seed germination of Australian plants required for minesite revegetation, and an ARC Linkage project investigating germination ecology of Australian alpine species with respect to climate change. Current research is investigating complex dormancy issues in Tasmanian species in collaboration with the Seed Conservation Centre at the Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens.


  • PhD, University of London
  • Bachelor Pharmacy Honours, University of London


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PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision