Professor Adam Polkinghorne

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Professor Adam Polkinghorne


Research areas

  • molecular epidemology of chlamydial infections of humans and animals
  • comparative genomics of bacterial pathogens
  • measurement and understanding of marsupial immune responses


Professor Adam Polkinghorne is a molecular microbiologist and Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering at USC. His research focuses on the obligate intracellular bacterium, Chlamydia, and he is interested in understanding the origin, transmission and evolution of chlamydial infections in humans and a variety of animals including livestock, native Australian marsupials and fish, amongst others. He co-leads USC’s Chlamydia research team (i) evaluating the use of vaccination to control chlamydial infections in koalas and livestock; (ii) characterising the immune response of koalas to chlamydial infection; (iii) developing immunological reagents and genetic resources for threatened and endangered native Australian marsupials; and (iv) comparing the genomes of chlamydial species infecting a diverse range of animal hosts.

Following the completion of his undergraduate studies at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Professor Polkinghorne completed his doctoral studies between QUT and the Institute of Veterinary Pathology, University of Zurich, Switzerland. He subsequently remained in Switzerland as a postdoctoral fellow investigating the association of novel chlamydial organisms with diseases in animals. He returned to QUT to take up an appointment as an academic in the Faculty of Science and Technology and eventually the School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health, where he has retained an adjunct appointment. He also has adjunct appointments at the University of Sydney and University of Tasmania.

Professor Polkinghorne is Deputy Director of USC's Animal Research Centre.


  • 2017 Golden Leaf Award of Excellence for a Research Institution - 2nd National Koala Conference, Port Macquarie, June 2017
  • 2013 Australian Institute of Policy and Science Queensland Young Tall Poppy Award

Research grant

Year Researchers Grant Funding amount Project name
2017-2020 Adam Polkinghorne, Willa Huston (UTS), Scott Carver (UTas) ARC Linkage Project A$593,000 Development of new tools for surveillance of chlamydial infections in sheep
2016-2018 Peter Timms, Adam Polkinghorne, Scott Carver (UTas) ARC Linkage Project A$339,764

Developing a chlamydial vaccine for koalas

2015-2018 Peter Timms, Adam Polkinghorne, Greg Simmons (UQ) ARC Linkage Project A$488,235

Development of a vaccine to protect koalas against koala retrovirus (KoRV)

2014-2017 Adam
Polkinghorne, Peter Timms, Scott Carver (UTas)
Linkage Project

Improving the diagnosis, management and control of chlamydial infections in Australian livestock

2015-2017 Adam Polkinghorne, Katherine Belov (USyd), Peter Timms ARC Discovery A$458,000

Understanding the pathogenesis of debilitating chlamydial blindness in the koala

2014-2015 Adam

McGarvie Smith Institute Trust


Development and evaluation of a prototype Chlamydia pecorum vaccine to reduce economic losses associated with chlamydial polyarthritis and conjunctivitis in NSW Sheep

2013-2016 Adam
Polkinghorne, Peter Timms

Qld DEHP Koala Research Grant

A$207,000 Koala Chlamydia pecorum virulence profiling
2012–2015 Peter
Timms, Adam Polkinghorne

ARC Discovery Project


Understanding the origin, epidemiology and transmission threat of chlamydial infections between Australian native animals and livestock

2012-2015 Peter
Timms, Kenneth Beagley, Adam Polkinghorne
Linkage Project
A$750,000 Development of a safe and immunogenic
anti-chlamydia vaccine for the koala

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