Dr Ben Lewis

Academic Status

College of Medicine and Public Health

place Flinders Medical Centre
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Dr Ben Lewis is a medical researcher at Flinders University whose interests are focused on developing innovative methods of drug therapy, including a gene directed prodrug therapy model for targeted cancer treatment. Ben has been an integral part of the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at Flinders University since 2002 with his research focussed on the molecular determinants of diversity in drug and chemical metabolism. Ben completed his PhD in 2011 under the supervision of Professor John Miners and was successively awarded a Flinders University Research Fellowship.

In 2012 he was granted a Flinders University Lectureship in Clinical Pharmacology and has lectured clinical and experimental pharmacology to students undertaking the Bachelor of Medical Science, Master of Optometry, Bachelor of Paramedic Science, and has previously been involved in the education of Nurse Practitioners with prescribing rights. He is currently the coordinator of two Topics: 'Human Pharmacology and Therapeutics' and 'Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics'.

Ben has been awarded a number of scientific prizes for his research including the 2007 Australian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists (ASCEPT) Oral Prize, the 2009 Faculty of Health Sciences Student Research Prize, the 2010 Adelaide Pharmacology Group (APG) Meeting Presentation Prize, and the 2010 ASCEPT Drug Disposition Special Interest Group Prize. Ben has published 25 peer-reviewed articles and is the lead supervisor of a new drug discovery laboratory within the Department of Clinical Pharmacology. The focus of this laboratory is the design and synthesis of drugs, using the dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase enzymes as molecular targets for mediating vascular endothelial growth factor-dependent and -independent angiogenesis pathways in cancer. There is increasing evidence that identifies a number of the drugs developed by Ben's group may have potential use as anitimicrobial agents and in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Disease.



  • Bachelor of Science(Biochemistry-Chemistry double major)
  • Flinders University, South Australia.


  • Bachelor of Science (Hons)
  • Department of Environmental Biology, University of Adelaide.
  • The Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, The Royal Adelaide Hospital.
  • The Ludwig Insititute for Cancer Research, Parkville, Melbourne Vic.
  • Supervisors: Professor Christopher Daniels, Dr Steven Stacker, Dr Mac Achen, Dr Rod Cooter, and Dr Sandra Orgeig.
  • Title: Isolation of Vascular Endothethial Growth Factor-C (VEGF-C) in regenerating tails of the common Australian gecko, Chirstinus marmoratus.


  • BSc. PhD Flinders University, South Australia
  • Flinders Medical Science and Technology Cluster, Department of Clinical Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Flinders University.
  • Supervisors: Professor John Miners and Professor Peter Mackenzie.
  • Title: Computational modeling and structure-activity relationships of cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1): An approach to CYP1A1 Gene Directed Enzyme Prodrug Therapy.
Honours, awards and grants
Scientific awards
  • 2007 Australian Society of Clinicaland Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists (ASCEPT) Oral Prize
  • 2007 ASCEPT Percy Prize finalist
  • 2009 Faculty of Health SciencesStudent Research Prize
  • 2010 Adelaide Pharmacology GroupMeeting Presentation Prize
  • 2010 ASCEPT Percy Prize finalist
  • 2010 ASCEPT Drug Disposition SpecialInterest Group Prize

Media Reviews:

  • New ScientistMagazine, a wonderous tail, January 11, 2003, p20.
  • Newswise Media News, Humanlymph disease could tail off thanks to gecko, Adelaide University, january 16,2003.
  • United Press International,Lizards may help patients with impaired lymphatic system, Copyright 2003 u.p.i,January 24, 2003.
  • Courier Mail (Queensland,Australia), Gecko key to probe, Copyright 2003 Nationwide News Pty Limited,January 15, 2003.
  • The Cairns Post/The CairnsSun (Australia), Lizards lend a limb, Copyright 2003 Nationwide News PtyLimited, January 16, 2003.
  • Herald Sun (Melbourne,Australia), Gecko offers lymph hope, Copyright 2003 Nationwide News PtyLimited, January 15, 2003.
  • National Nine News, Channel9 (Adelaide, Australia), An escape trick used by lizards could have significantmedical benefits for humans, summary: a00009297843, January 15, 2003
  • TheSunday Mail (Adelaide, Australia), Under close watch, January 26, 2003, p17

Key responsibilities

Ben lectures clinical and experimental pharmacology to students undertaking their Bachelor of Medical Science and Master of Optometry, and is a tutor to second year medical students undertaking the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery in the School of Medicine at Flinders University.

Ben's research is focused on the design and synthesis of new drug entities, and as such shows strong interest in the fields of structural biology, biochemistry, and molecular pharmacology.

Research expertise
Biochemistry and cell biology
Medical biochemistry and metabolomics
Medicinal and biomolecular chemistry
Oncology and carcinogenesis
Pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences
Research interests

Ben's current research is focusing on the development a cytochrome P450-based gene therapy model for cancer treatment. Ben aims to utilise the body’s own ability to metabolise drugs and chemicals in a way that will activate an ordinarily inactive chemotherapeutic drug. Ben aims to use a retrovirus to target synthesis of the drug activating enzyme (a human protein) specifically in tumor cells, or in a specific tissue type. Administration of the inactive chemotherapeutic drug would circulate through the blood stream to the tumour site where is it then activated into the desired cytotoxic agent. The targeted therapy proposed by Ben should increase exposure of the tumor to the active cytotoxic agent, thus reducing systemic toxicity to the remainder of the body. Treatment options for cancer, such as Ben’s, are desirable to reduce the adverse effects associated with conventional chemotherapy currently used in the clinic today. Ben’s work is funded by the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer and the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation.

In addition to this, Ben and Professor Arduino Mangoni (Head of Clinical Pharmacology) are currently establishing a new angiogenesis laboratory within the Department of Clinical Pharmacology. This laboratory will primarily focus on the role of dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase (DDAH) expression and post-translational modifications on vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-dependent and -independent angiogenesis pathways. The research conducted by Ben and Arduino aims to elucidate the modulating effects DDAH may have on VEGF initiated angiogenesis during tumor development. Since a significant number of patients do not respond to anti-VEGF therapy used singly or in combination with other agents, this research is critical for finding alternative molecular targets to treat cancer.

Teaching interests



Structural biology

Molecular Biology


Topic coordinator
MMED3936 Human Pharmacology and Therapeutics
MMED3940 Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Topic lecturer
MMED3936 Principles in Pharmacology and Toxicology (Vision Science)
MMED3940 Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Supervisory interests
Cancer biology
Cancer therapy
Clinical pharmacology
Cytochromes P450
Dimethyarginie dimethylaminohydrolase
Drug design
Drug metabolism
Ex vivo gene therapy
Gene therapy
Lentiviral gene therapy vectors
Medical biochemistry
Molecular biology
Molecular modelling
Protein chemistry
Protein docking
Protein expression
Protein purification
Protein structure
Protein-protein interaction
Recombinant protein expression
Structure-function of drug metabolising enzymes
Vascular endothelial growth factor -A and -C
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Drug discovery (1)
Associate supervisor: Molecular Pharmacology (1), Pharmacology (2)
Principal supervisor: Drug discovery (3)
Associate supervisor: Pharmacology (6)
Expert for media contact
DNA studies
Medical research
Molecular biology
DNA manipulation
Molecular Pharmacology
Protein structure and function
drug discovery
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expert
Media expertise
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Carcinogens
  • DNA studies
  • Drugs
  • Medical research
  • Melanomas
  • Molecular biology
  • Research
  • DNA manipulation
  • Molecular Pharmacology
  • Protein structure and function
  • drug discovery

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