BPharm(Hons), MPharm, PhD
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Stuart McLean is a graduate (BPharmHons and PhD) of the University of Sydney and has worked at several other universities in Australia, Europe and North America. His teaching areas have been in pharmacology and toxicology, and the quality of his teaching was acknowledged in 2007 with a Teaching Merit Award from the University of Tasmania. His research career has covered many areas of pharmacology including the metabolism of drugs and other chemicals; clinical pharmacology of selected drugs; drug analysis and harm minimisation strategies for alcohol and other social drugs.
Stuart has had considerable administrative experience as a past Head of Pharmacy and board member of several professional societies, and as organising secretary for three national meetings held in Hobart. He has been involved in the ethical assessment of human research through membership of committees of the University of Tasmania and the Royal Hobart Hospital.
He is now Emeritus Professor with principal research interests in chemical ecology. In 2006 he was elected a Life Member of the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Toxicology.
Pharmacology, the study of drugs, started with plant chemicals and many of these continue to be useful therapeutically. From an ecological perspective, plants produce such chemicals for their own benefit, for example to act as toxic defences against herbivores. Research using the methods and perspective of pharmacology has given fresh insights into the role of plant toxins in the interactions between plants and the animals which eat them. The work in this area demonstrated the productive relationships to be had between pharmacology, ecology and chemistry.
Current research in chemical ecology is investigating chemical communication between animals. The first study has characterized a large number of scent chemicals of the brushtail possum. Future studies will search for scent chemicals produces during the breeding season, and will investigate any sex differences and associated behavioural effects. The findings will extend our understanding of the social organization of an important Australian marsupial. They are also expected to lead to improved methods of possum population control to protect agriculture and plantation forests and, in New Zealand, to protect native forest ecosystems from destruction by the introduced possum. The methods developed in the possum project have now begun be used to investigate the scent chemicals of the red fox.
As part of a long-term interest in minimizing the harm caused by social drug use, studies have found that effective use of syringe filters can remove the particles and bacteria from illicit drug injections. Application of these procedures has the potential to greatly reduce the medical complications suffered by injecting drug users, and consequently to also decrease costs to the public health system.
A full report of Stuart's research at the University of Tasmania is available under The Web Access Research Portal.
Authorised by the Associate Head, Pharmacy
31 January, 2014