Professor Natkunam Ketheesan

Professor in Biomedical Science (Infection & Immunity) - School of Science and Technology

Natkunam Ketheesan

Phone: +61 6773 2991



Professor Ketheesan is an academic with interests in teaching, research and research training. He obtained his medical degree (MD Hons) at the Vinnitsa State Medical University and after working briefly as a junior clinician, went on to complete his MSc in Clinical Immunology and PhD at the University of Leeds under the tutelage of Professor Eileen Ingham. He held post-doctoral positions at the universities of Leeds, Western Australia and Queensland and in 2000 joined James Cook University. Within a decade, he was promoted from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor and in 2011 conferred the title of Professor with a Personal Chair in Infection and Immunity.

In 2018 Professor Ketheesan joined the University of New England and is currently a tenured Professor in Biomedical Science (Infection and Immunity). In Australia he concurrently holds Honorary Senior Research Fellowships with the New England Institute of Healthcare Research and the Menzies School of Health Research. He is also a Visiting Professor to the Universities of Jaffna and Colombo and the Principal Consultant for Australian Tropical Solutions. As a Visiting Fellow/Professor he has conducted research during sabbaticals at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Griffith University Institute of Glycomics.

Professor Ketheesan’s research has been focused on investigating the interactions between selected clinically relevant bacterial pathogens and the host, enabling the development of strategies to better identify and combat infections and their complications. His group has developed novel rodent models to determine host-pathogen interactions in rheumatic heart disease, melioidosis, tuberculosis and Q fever. His work has been funded by both international and national funding agencies including the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council. Professor Ketheesan has co-authored over 125 peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters, delivered over 175 conference presentations and invited seminars and has supervised to completion over 45 research theses.



PhD, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
MSc, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
MD (Hons), Vinnitsa Medical University, Ukraine


FFSc RCPA - Fellow of the Faculty of Science Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia
FACTM - Fellow of the Australasian College of Tropical Medicine

Teaching Credentials

Cert. Higher Education Pedagogy, Derek Bok Center for Teaching & Learning, Harvard University
Graduate Cert. Education, University of Queensland, Australia

Teaching Interests

Host-Pathogen Interaction
Infectious Diseases
Medical Biotechnology
Research Methods



Ten selected journal publications representative of research interest

Sikder S, Rush C, Govan BL, Alim MA, Ketheesan N (2020) Anti-streptococcal antibody and T-cell interactions with vascular endothelial cells initiate the development of rheumatic carditis. Journal of Leukocyte Biology 107(2):263-271

Sikder S, Williams NL, Sorenson AE,  Alim MA, Vidgen ME, Moreland NJ, Rush CM, Simpson RS,  Govan BL, Norton RE, Cunningham MW, McMillan DJ, Sriprakash KS, Ketheesan N (2018) Group G streptococcus induces an autoimmune IL-17A/IFN-γ mediated carditis in the Lewis rat model of Rheumatic Heart Disease. Journal of Infectious Diseases 218(2):324-335. Front Cover Illustration (Volume 218, Issue 2, 15 July 2018)

Morris JL, Bridson TL, Alim MA, Rush CM, Rudd DM, Govan BL, Ketheesan N (2016) Development of a diet-induced murine model of diabetes featuring cardinal metabolic and pathophysiological abnormalities of type 2 diabetes. Biology Open; 5(8):1149-62

Gorton D, Sikder S, Williams N, Chilton L, Rush CM, Govan BL, Cunningham MW, Ketheesan N (2016) Repeat exposure to group A streptococcal M protein exacerbates cardiac damage in a rat model of rheumatic heart disease. Autoimmunity 25; 1-8

Martinez N, Ketheesan N, West K, Vallerskog T, Kornfeld H (2016) Impaired Recognition of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by Alveolar Macrophages from Diabetic Mice. Journal of Infectious Diseases 214(11):1629-1637.

Batzloff MR, Fane A, Gorton D, Pandey M, Rivera-Hernandez T, Calcutt A, Yeung G, Hartas J, Johnson L, Rush CM, McCarthy J, Ketheesan N, Good MF (2016) Preclinical immunogenicity and safety of a Group A streptococcal M protein-based vaccine candidate. Human Vaccine Immunotherapy 12(12):3089-3096

Hodgson K, Morris J, Bridson T, Govan B, Rush C, Ketheesan N (2015) Immunological mechanisms contributing to the double burden of diabetes and intracellular bacterial infections. Immunology 144(2):171-185

Cooper A, Goullet M, Mitchell J, Ketheesan N, Govan B (2012) Serological evidence of Cloxiella burnetii exposure in native marsupials and introduced animals in Queensland, Australia. Epidemiology and Infection 140(7):1304-1308

Cann MP, Sive AA, Norton RE, McBride WJH, Ketheesan N (2010) Clinical presentation of rheumatic fever in an endemic area. Archives in Diseases of Childhood 95(6):455-457

Barnes JL, Ketheesan N (2005) Melioidosis: different routes of infection. Emerging Infections Diseases J 4: 638-639

Ketheesan N (2012) Editor-in-Chief of Melioidosis: a century of research and observation; Elsevier Press ISBN 0 444 522025 0


Faculty of Science, Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia
Australasian College of Tropical Medicine
Australian Society for Medical Research
Australasian Society for Immunology
British Society for Immunology

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