Professor Paul Bernhardt


School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
Faculty of Science
+61 7 336 54266


After completing my undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Newcastle, I held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Basel (Switzerland) from 1990-2. I returned to Australia in 1993 to take up an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Australian National University (Canberra) from 1993-4. I joined The University of Queensland in 1994.

Research Interests

  • Protein Electrochemistry
    This research involves incorporating redox active enzymes with electrochemical systems such that the enzyme functions natively whilst in communication with an electrode (rather than with a natural electron transfer partner). We are currently investigating a number of systems, most from the molybdenum enzyme family that catalyse oxygen transfer reactions of both organic and inorganic substrates.
  • Copper Complexes at ATRP Catalysts
    Atom transfer radical polymerisation (ATRP) is one of the most widely used 'controlled' radical polymerisation techniques and has resulted in polymers with well defined molecular weights and architectures. Our work is focused on complexes that catalyse this process by generating organic radicals from the simple reaction between a Cu(I) complex and an alkyl halide initiator. We can probe this atom transfer reaction with cyclic voltammetry and we have gained new insight to this interesting and fundamentally important reaction (collaboration with Prof. M.J. Monteiro, Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, UQ).
  • Chelators for Fe Overload Disorders
    Fe overload is a potentially fatal condition that affects a significant proportion of the population and its incidence is particularly problematic in developing countries. Its treatment is expensive, often highly invasive and compliance is poor. We are working on developing orally active drugs to treat Fe overload (collaboration with Prof. D.R. Richardson, Uni. of Sydney, Australia). Also we are developing fluorescent Fe chelators that will identify the cellular compartments from which Fe is chelated (collaboration with Dr J.J. Davis, Oxford University UK).

Research Impacts

My research interests include all aspects of coordination chemistry; particularly its relevance to the areas of electrochemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, spectroscopy and catalysis.

In recent years some of the areas in which we have been, and continue to be, actively involved include:

  • Enzyme electrochemistry (collaborations with Dr Ulrike Kappler, Prof. A.G. McEwan and several international groups).
  • Invesitigation of copper complexes that are active in atom transfer radical polymerisation catalysis,
  • Design and synthesis of electrochromic devices (changing colour upon oxidation/reduction) based on molecular cyano-bridged di- and trimetallic mixed valence complexes (collaboration with Dr M. Martinez, Uni. of Barcelona).
  • Orally effective chelators for the treatment of iron overload diseases (collaboration with Prof. D.R. Richardson, University of Sydney).


  • BSc, University of Newcastle
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle


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View all Supervision


Book Chapter

  • Kalimuthu, Palraj and Bernhardt, Paul V. (2017). Electrochemistry of molybdenum and tungsten enzymes. In Russ Hille, Carola Schulzke and Martin L. Kirk (Ed.), Molybdenum and tungsten enzymes: spectroscopic and theoretical investigations (pp. 168-222) Cambridge, United Kingdom: Royal Society of Chemistry. doi:10.1039/9781782628842-00168

  • Bernhardt, Paul V. (2009). Communication with the mononuclear molybdoenzymes: Emerging opportunities and applications in redox enzyme biosensors. In Davis, J. (Ed.), Engineering the Bioelectronic Interface: Applications to Analyte Biosensing and Protein Detection 1st ed. (pp. 1-24) Cambridge, UK: The Royal Society of Chemistry.

  • Bernhardt, P. V. and Lawrance, G. (2004). Cobalt. In J. A. McCleverty and T. J. Meyer (Ed.), Comprehensive Coordination Chemistry II: From Biology to Nanotechnology 2nd ed. ed. (pp. 1-145) Oxford: Elsevier/Pergamon. doi:10.1016/B0-08-043748-6/05083-0

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision