Dr. Phurpa Wangchuk is a Senior Research Fellow at James Cook University. He obtained his M.Sc. in Medicinal Chemistry (Research) and Ph.D. with an ‘Outstanding Thesis’ from the University of Wollongong (UOW), Australia. He completed his Post Graduate Diploma in Research Methodology (Clinical Research) from the DBL-Centre for Health Research and Development, Copenhagen University, Denmark, and his Bachelor of Bioscience (Chemistry, Botany and Zoology as majors) from the University of Delhi, India with an ‘Overall Academic Excellence Award’.

He was awarded the National Health and Medical Research (NHMRC) Early Career Peter Doherty - Australian Biomedical Fellowship (2015-2019), NHMRC Ideas Grant (2020-2023), Endeavour Postgraduate Australia Award (2010-2014), Danish DANIDA Research Fellowship (2006), and Royal Government of Bhutan Scholarship (2002-2004).

Both his M.Sc. and Ph.D. research projects resulted in the discovery of 5 novel molecules, 15 drug lead compounds, 1 patent on the novel antimalarial drug lead compound, 2 UOW seminar awards, 2 state-level (New South Wales) conference prizes, 2 international awards, and 16 research papers.

Prior to his appointment at JCU, he worked in Bhutan in various capacities as a Research Officer, Chemist, Product Manager, and Head of the Research and Development Section of the Manjong Sorig Pharmaceuticals. As a Head of the R&D, he led a team comprising ethnobotanist, pharmacognosist, traditional physician,s and external technical consultants from Europe, Japan, India, and Thailand. He implemented 4 World Health Organisation grants and was an executive team member involved in deciding and executing the million Euros European Union Medicinal Plants Project in Bhutan. He also taught first-year laboratory chemistry students at the University of Wollongong.

He has published two books, five book chapters, four conference proceedings, two plant monographs, and many journal articles in the areas of metabolomics and biodiscovery from natural products involving plants, parasites, zootherapy, and geopharmaceuticals. He is also an active member and reviewer of journal papers, book and grant proposals, and HDR thesis. He is the subject editor, guest editor, and editorial board member of the international journals. 

The lab's current research focuses on:

His drug discovery research at the Centre for Molecular Therapeutics involves the integration of novel approaches and techniques of natural products chemistry, metabolomics, drug development, ethnobotany, molecule biology, parasitology, and immunology. The focuses are on discovering novel anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, antimicrobial, and antimalarial drug leads from natural sources such as medicinal plants, climate-affected plants, insect fungi, parasitic helminths, and other FNQ tropical flora and fauna. He uses advanced analytical technologies including HPLC, MALDI-MS, GCMS, LCMS, and NMR for isolation, structure elucidation, and identification of novel compounds. His group also utilizes in vitro (PBMC), in vivo (a mouse model of colitis), and ex vivo (for parasites) experimental models.

Currently funded projects are:

1. Drug discovery (IBD) from Aboriginal medicinal plants funded by NHMRC

2. Ethnobotanical research funded by FNQ Hospital Foundation

3. Antimicrobial drug leads funded by FNQ Hospital Foundation

For MPhil and Ph.D. Enrolment/Scholarships see:

Potential candidates interested in undertaking a Ph.D. or Masters project/Honours should contact Phurpa to discuss potential projects. Funding is available through:




  • TV3002 Research Proposals - Veterinary Sciences Year 3.

  • NRS-MBBS 6 Research Activity Task- MBBS Year 6

  • DS40101 Research Task - Dentistry Year 4

  • Parasitology-worms and their anti-inflammatory compounds
  • Anti-inflammatory and anthelmintic alkaloids/flavonoids
  • Phytochemicals and pharmacology of medicinal and parasitic plants
  • Insect-fungi and their bioactive secondary metabolites
  • North Queensland Natural Products, their chemistry and therapeutic applications
  • Metabolomics and biomarkers of natural compounds and diseases
  • 2020 to 2022 - Topic Editor for the international journal "Plants", Journal publisher (Switzerland)
  • 2018 to 2022 - Guest Editor for the international journal 'Molecules', Journal publisher (Switzerland)
  • 2015 to 2018 - NHMRC ECR Fellow, James Cook University (Cairns)
  • 2014 - Research Officer, James Cook University (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2010 to 2014 - PhD Research Candidate, University of Wollongong (NSW, Australia)
  • 2008 to 2009 - Editor of Quarterly Morbidity and Activity Report, Ministry of Health (Bhutan)
  • 2008 to 2009 - Editor of Manjong Sorig Journal, Ministry of Health (Bhutan)
  • 2007 to 2009 - Product Manager, Manjong Sorig Pharmaceuticals, Kawajangsa, Thimphu District, Bhutan (Thimphu, Bhutan)
  • 2006 to 2009 - Head of R&D, Manjong Sorig Pharmaceuticals (Thmphu, Bhutan)
  • 2006 to 2009 - Executive Team (representing R&D section) of the European Union Project-II, Manjong Sorig Pharmaceuticals, Kawajangsa, Thimphu District, Bhutan (Thimphu, Bhutan)
  • 2006 to 2007 - Secretary of Research and Development of Bhutan, MSP/MoH (Bhutan)
  • 2006 - DANIDA Research Fellowship, DBL-Centre for Health Research and Development, University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • 2004 to 2006 - Chemist, Pharmaceutical and Research Unit (Thmphu, Bhutan)
  • 2002 to 2004 - M.Sc. Research Candidate, University of Wollongong (NSW, Australia)
  • 1999 to 2002 - Research Officer, Pharmaceutical and Research Unit (Thmphu, Bhutan)
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2022 - Invited Plenary Speaker for the International Conference on Medicinal Plants, Jember University, Indonesia.
  • 2022 - Invited Guest Lecture at Yangchenphug and Jigme Sherubling Higher Secondary Schools, Bhutan
  • 2022 - Invited Guest Speaker for MEd Biology and STEM Programme, Samtse College of Education, Royal University of Bhutan.
  • 2022 - Invited Talk at Queensland Pharmacy Students' Association Research Night
  • 2021 - Invited Guest Lecture - Mendrelgang Secondary School, Bhutan
  • 2021 - Invited Guest Speaker at Cairns Marlin Coast Probus.
  • 2020 - Invited Guest Lecture - Jember University, Indonesia
  • 2020 - Inaugural Talk - Drukrig Network of Bhutan Scholars.
  • 2019 - Invited speaker to The Second Annual Canadian Metabolomics Conference
  • 2018 - Invited Keynote Speaker -fully funded by the international conference on medicine and health sciences, Indonesia
  • 2018 - Special Address/Talk invitation -fully funded by the international conference on JIGNASA 2018 International conference, India
  • 2018 - Invited Speaker to the International conference in Beijing (fully funded by the conference organiser)
  • 2017 - Conference travel grant for organising and chairing a biodiscovery panel at ICTAM IX, Germany
  • 2017 - Invited speaker at International Conference on Medical and Health Sciences, Bhutan
  • 2017 - Full conference travel award as an 'Invited Speaker' at Harvard Conference on Health-Body-Mind
  • 2016 to 2017 - Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine Capacity Building Grant
  • 2016 - Best Poster Presentation Award - awarded in the International Conference on 'Molecular and Cellular Biology of Helminth Parasites X' held at Hydra (4-9 September 2016).
  • 2015 - "Invited speaker" Travel Award -International conference on 'Utilising Sub-Himalayan Biological Resources (fully funded by the conference organiser-Dibrugarh University, India)
  • 2014 - Examiners' special commendations for outstanding PhD thesis
  • 2009 to 2014 - Australian Endeavour Post Graduate Award
  • 2013 - KIOM-South Korea keynote speaker full funding award for the International Symposium on Value and Folk Remedy as Traditional Knowledge
  • 2013 - Bhutan Royal Civil Service Award for dedicated service (10 years) to the nation and the public
  • 2013 - ICTAM VIII Congress Award for attending the conference held every after 4 years
  • 2012 - Phytochemical Society of Europe's Best Congress Communication Award
  • 2012 - UOW Faculty of Science post graduate conference funding award
  • 2011 - Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) 2011 Best Oral Presentation Runner up Award
  • 2011 - UOW 2011 Highly Commended PhD Presentation Award
  • 2010 - BlueScope Steel Research Innovation Awards 2010
  • 2010 - Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) 2010 Best PhD Meritorious Poster Presentation Award
  • 2008 - RCSC meritorious promotion
  • 2007 - International Centre for Environmental Health and Toxicology Training Award, Thailand
  • 2000 - United Nations Industrial Development Organization Training Workshop Award
  • 1998 - Graduate Academic Excellence Award
  • 2015 to 2018 - National Health and Medical Research Council ECR Grant
  • 2010 to 2014 - Australian Endeavour Award-PhD
  • 2006 - DANIDA Fellowship for Post Graduate Diploma in Social/Clinical Research Methodology, Denmark.
  • 2002 to 2004 - Royal Government of Bhutan M.Sc. Scholarship
  • 2020 - Guest Editor for an international journal 'Molecules' (Impact Factor 3.2)
  • 2020 - 'Subject/Topic Editor' for an international journal 'Plants' (Impact Factor 2.8)
  • 2016 to 2020 - Australia & New Zealand Society for Magnetic Resonance (ANZMAG )
  • 2014 to 2020 - Editorial Board of the Journal of Biologically Active Products from Nature
  • 2013 to 2020 - Council Member of The International Association for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine (Germany)
  • 2012 to 2016 - Member of the Phytochemical Society of Europe
  • 2014 - The Australian Society for Parasitology
  • 2010 to 2014 - Chemical Society of University of Wollongong
  • 2008 to 2009 - Editorial Board of the Bhutan Ministry of Health Quarterly and Morbidity Activity Report
  • 2008 to 2009 - Member of the National Scientific Review Committee of Bhutan
  • 2008 to 2009 - Organiser and Editor of the Manjong Sorig Journal
  • 2005 to 2009 - Research Core Group and Quality Assurance Team of Manjong Sorig Pharmaceuticals
  • 2007 to 2008 - Non-Wood Forest Products Task Force
  • 2007 - Biodiversity Action Plan Development Technical Committee Member
  • 2007 - Ethnobotany
  • 2021 - Invited Reviewer for Food Reviews International
  • 2020 - Invited Reviewer for Metabolomics
  • 2020 - Invited Reviewer for Phytochemistry
  • 2020 - Invited Reviewer of Phytotherapy Research
  • 2020 - Invited Reviewer for Communication Biology (Nature GP)
  • 2019 - PhD thesis Examiner for Macquarie University
  • 2018 - Invited Reviewer for the BMC Infectious Diseases
  • 2018 - Invited Reviewer of the 'International Wound Journal'
  • 2018 - Invited reviewer -Acta Parasitologica
  • 2022 - Plenary speaker at the International Conference in Indonesia.
  • 2022 - Invited Plenary Speaker at the International Conference in Indonesia.
  • 2021 - Invited Reviewer for 'Cell Biology and Toxicology'
  • 2021 - Invited Reviewer for 'Horticulture Research'-Nature
  • 2021 - Invited Reviewer for 'Communications Biology': https://mts-spd.nature.com/apps/spd.plex?form_type=display_person_manuscripts&mod_p_id=73825&mod_j_id=153.
  • 2020 - M.Sc. Thesis Examiner for Macquarie University
  • 2016 to 2020 - Reviewed paper for Molecules
  • 2016 to 2020 - Invited Reviewer of the 'Journal of Ethnopharmacology' Elsevier Impact factor-3.11
  • 2019 - Invited Reviewer of the PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
  • 2019 - Invited Reviewer for the 'Bioorganic Chemistry'
  • 2016 to 2019 - Reviewed paper for Phytochemistry Letters
  • 2016 to 2019 - Reviewed paper for International Journal of Molecular Sciences
  • 2015 to 2019 - Invited Reviewer of the Pharmaceutical Biology
  • 2015 to 2019 - Invited reviewer for the Journal of Biologically Active Products from Nature
  • 2018 - Invited Reviewer of the 'Digestive Diseases and Sciences'
  • 2018 - Invited Reviewer of the Toxins
  • 2018 - Invited Reviewer of the 'Nutrients'
  • 2013 to 2017 - Reviewer for a journal paper-Natural Products Communication
  • 2016 - Reviewed paper for BMC Immunology
  • 2016 - Reviewed paper for International Journal of Parasitology
  • 2015 - Invited Reviewer of the paper submitted to the BMC Research Notes.
  • 2015 - Invited reviewer for Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
  • 2015 - Invited Reviewer of the 'Scientific Reports'-Nature Publishing Group.
  • 2015 - Invited Reviewer for Ethnobotany Research & Applications
  • 2015 - Invited Reviewer for the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis
  • 2015 - Invited Reviewer for the Natural Products Research
  • 2015 - Invited Reviewer of the 'BMC Ecology'
  • 2015 - Invited Reviewer of the BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • 2015 - Invited Reviewer of the 'BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine'
  • 2012 - Guest Reviewer of the Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica B

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters
  • Jamtsho T, Ugyen and Wangchuk P (2023) Datura stramonium (Thorn Apple or Devil’s Trumpet). In: Exploring Poisonous Plants: Medicinal Values, Toxicity Responses, and Therapeutic Uses. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, USA, pp. 219-240
  • Yeshi K and Wangchuk P (2023) Aconitum napellus (Monkshood). In: Exploring Poisonous Plants: Medicinal Values, Toxicity Responses, and Therapeutic Uses. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, USA, pp. 101-112

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 79+ research outputs authored by Dr Phurpa Wangchuk from 2007 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Biodiscovery from Wet Tropics' native plants

Indicative Funding
$5,000 over 2 years
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects 1 in 250 Australians including the people living in the FNQ region. It cost Australians a total of $3.18 billion per annum. Given that it has no cure and the disease prevalence and its associated cost are expected to increase sharply, there is an urgent need for new drugs. Inspired by the Wet Tropics' biodiversity of Far North Queensland (FNQ), the proposed project envisions discovering novel anti-inflammatory drug leads for IBD from selected climate-affected native plants using cutting-edge drug discovery techniques and technologies. The aims are : ? Determine the metabolomes of the anti-inflammatory extracts of five native mountaintop plants using mass spectrometry techniques. ? Isolate anti-inflammatory molecules from Uromyrtus metrosideros extract using chromatographic techniques.
Phurpa Wangchuk and Karma Yeshi (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Wet Tropics; Biodiscovery; Inflammatory Bowel Disease; Anti-inflammatory drug lead; Natural Products; Climate change

National Health & Medical Research Council - Ideas Grants

Discovering novel drug lead molecules for inflammatory bowel disease from Australian Aboriginal tropical medicinal plants

Indicative Funding
$1,209,524 over 4 years
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a debilitating disease, which has no cure. It costs the Australian Health System billions of dollars in hospitalisation, management and lost productivity, thereby precipitating the need for novel drugs. Building on my extensive preliminary data, we aim to discover novel drug leads from Aboriginal medicinal plants, which are currently used for treating inflammatory conditions by the Mbabaram community of the Atherton Tablelands.
Phurpa Wangchuk, Roland Ruscher, Joanne Jamie, Stephen Pyne, Darren Crayn and Gerald Turpin (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, Macquarie University, University of Wollongong, College of Science & Engineering and Australian Tropical Herbarium)
Aboriginal medicinal plants; Anti-inflammatory activities; Inflammatory Bowel Disease; Biologically active molecules; New drug leads; Metabolomics

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Documentation and evaluation of Aboriginal medicinal plants for anti-inflammatory agents

Indicative Funding
$5,000 over 1 year
Aboriginal people in Australia, especially in remote areas, have a vast knowledge of medicinal plants and bush food (Packer et al., 2012) that have supported their sustenance and protected them against different ailments for thousands of years. In Far North Queensland (FNQ), there are more than 18 Aboriginal communities and their customary food and medical knowledge differ from other parts of Australia. Their knowledge is shaped by their rich tropical forests that are home to range of medicinal plants and bush tucker. It is believed that these plants and bush food keep some remote Aboriginal people healthy especially protected against Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The prevalence of IBD in Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory is almost 8-37-times less than the non-indigenous population (Leach et al., 2014; Iyngkaran, 2015). Although genetic and other factors cannot be ruled out, diet, which plays a pivotal role in shaping the architecture and functionality of resident microbes in the gut (Zmora et al., 2019), may be responsible for this health outcome. Indeed, some Indigenous populations are known to possess unique microbiota compared to non-indigenous population (Iyngkaran, 2015) and we hypothesize that this could be due to inclusion of medicinal plants and bush food in their diet. Unfortunately, since younger generation are not interested to learn the Aboriginal medicinal plants and bush food knowledge, the rich customary knowledge is dying with the community elders. There is urgent need to document the surviving customary food and medical knowledge of some remote Indigenous communities before they are lost forever, which has both cultural and health ramifications in near future. Therefore, this study proposes to document and study the largely untapped pharmacopoeia of Mbabaram Aboriginal people in Atherton and discover viable medicinal plant candidates for anti-inflammatory screening.
Phurpa Wangchuk and Gerald Paul Turpin (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Aboriginal Medicine; Rainforest plants; Biodiscovery; Medicinal Plants; Inflammatory Bowel Disease; Traditional Knowledge

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Preclinical evaluation of phytocompounds as novel antimicrobial agents.

Indicative Funding
$5,000 over 2 years
Through previous work funded by a FNQ Hospital Foundation Grant (JCU-QLD-838341), we have discovered two novel phytocompounds from tropical medicinal plants that show broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties against drug resistant bacterial strains that affect FNQ. To progress the development of these compounds into potential antibiotics, further pre-clinical in vitro and in vivo testing is required.
Phurpa Wangchuk and Andreas Kupz in collaboration with Visai Muruganandah (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Biologically active molecules; Novel drug leads; Antimicrobial agents; Isolation of compounds; Tropical medicinal plants; Wet Tropics

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Antimicrobial Properties of Molecular Isolates from Tropical Flora and Fauna (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Biodiscovery of anti-inflammatory drug leads from parasites and medicinal plants of Australian wet tropics. (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Isolation of Novel Anti-inflammatory Drug lead Molecules from Australian Tropical Medicinal Plants (Masters , Primary Advisor)
  • Ethnobotany and drug discovery of Mbabaram Aboriginal medicinal plants (Masters , Primary Advisor)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit Research Data Australia.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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