Researcher biography

Jeffrey Mak (PhD) is an organic chemist at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience. His publications cover a range of disciplines such as biological and medicinal chemistry, total synthesis, and physical organic chemistry. In 2017, Dr Mak was selected as a CAS SciFinder Future Leader by the Chemical Abstract Service (a division of the American Chemical Society).

Jeffrey Mak was awarded the Harriett Marks Bursary and a UQ University Medal before undertaking doctorate studies in natural product total synthesis with Prof. Craig Williams. This culminated in the first total synthesis of two caged diterpenes, (−)-neovibsanin G and (−)-14-epi-neovibsanin G. Next, he joined Prof. David Fairlie's group at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience. He is currently active in the fields of chemical biology and drug development. In recent years, his research has particularly focused on mucosal associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, which are a newly characterised subset of immune cells important in antibacterial defence. In 2014, he was part of an Australian team that discovered the identity of the ligands that activate MAIT cells, as published in Nature, playing a key role in the chemical synthesis and characterisation of the unstable and structurally unprecedented ligands (Nature Communications, 2017). In 2018, Dr Mak was chief investigator on a UQ Early Career Researcher Grant for developing new drug leads that target MAIT cells. Other recent awards include RSC Twitter Poster Conference (Chemical Biology) 1st Prize (2018), CASS Travel Award (2018), and Jo Underhill IMB Art Award (2019).

Dr Mak has lectured in the undergraduate course Advanced Organic Chemistry (CHEM3001) since 2017. He has also served as an ACS Wikipedia Fellow to systematically improve the chemistry and scientific content on Wikipedia (2018). Student research projects are available on a number of topics.