Dr Kylie Agnew-Francis

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
Faculty of Science


I am a medicinal chemist and postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia, where I obtained my BSc (Hons) with a major in organic chemistry in 2011. Following this, I worked at the Institute for Future Environments and later the Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities at QUT, where I gained experience in analytical chemistry, as well as molecular biology and genetics. In 2015, I returned to UQ to begin my PhD in the design and synthesis of novel antifungals targeting invasive infection under the supervision of Prof. Craig Williams and Prof. Luke Guddat, which I completed in 2019. My combined experience in synthetic chemistry - particularly in the synthesis of heterocyclic small molecules - and molecular biology has since led to my current position at UQ under the supervision of Prof. Avril Robertson, where my focus is once again on the design and synthesis of novel antifungals. Broadly, my research interests lie in the pursuit of drug design and development campaigns addressing difficult or under-researched clinical concerns, and in particular, the use of novel bioisosteric approaches to improve drugability and drug efficacy.

More recently, I have developed an interest in Australian mushroom species. Very little recorded knowledge on our endemic mushrooms species exists. My research in this space seeks to characterise the genetic and molecular features of Australian wood rot mushrooms, which are critical players in maintaining and restoring the health of our unique forests ecosystems. With this information we aim to better understand our fungal biodiversity and the ecological roles they play, and to explore their potential uses in several industries. We are also investigating the biological activity of extracts and molecules derived from these mushrooms against models of human diseases, such as Alzheimer's, cancer, and drug-resistant microbial infections.

Research Interests

  • Antifungal drug design
    We focus on the design, synthesis and testing of novel anti fungal drugs, with a particular focus on Candida auris. We are also interested in studying the mode of action of some of these drugs and investigating their resistance profiles and impact on biofilms.
  • Australian native mushrooms
    Australia is home to over 10,000 species of mushroom, the majority of which are undescribed and unexplored in scientific literature. Our work aims to help fill this gap through characterisation of the unique molecular properties of several Australian native mushroom species using a combination of genomics, metabolomics, and proteomics. Through this, we hope to better understand their relationship to their natural environment and to other species found internationally, and to gain insights on their metabolic machinery and production of toxic and bioactive metabolites. We are also interested in investigating the nutritional properties and biological activity of extracts of these mushrooms, and identifying the bioactive molecules responsible for their activities. Elucidating these molecules will provide a means for novel drug discovery targeting human disease, and will provide key information on the health benefits of Australian native mushrooms.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland


  • Sun, Xue-Wen, Liu, Yixuan, Wang, Xiaofang, Li, Hao-Ran, Lin, Xin, Tang, Jin-Yin, Xu, Qing, Agnew-Francis, Kylie A., Fraser, James A., Sun, Zhi-Juan, Guddat, Luke W. and Wang, Jian-Guo (2023). Structure-activity relationships of bensulfuron methyl and its derivatives as novel agents against drug-resistant Candida auris. Chemical Biology & Drug Design, 103 (1) e14364, e14364. doi: 10.1111/cbdd.14364

  • Xue, Yongbo, Savchenko, Andrei I., Agnew-Francis, Kylie A., Miles, Jared A., Holt, Tina, Lu, Hieng, Chow, Sharon, Forster, Paul I., Boyle, Glen M., Ross, Benjamin P., Fischer, Katja, Kutateladze, Andrei G. and Williams, Craig M. (2023). seco-pregnane glycosides from Australian caustic vine (Cynanchum viminale subsp. australe). Journal of Natural Products, 86 (3), 490-497. doi: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.2c01037

  • Agnew-Francis, Kylie A., Tang, Yu Cheng, Lin, Xin, Low, Yu Shang, Wun, Shun Jie, Kuo, Andy, Elias, S. M. A. Sayeed Ibn, Lonhienne, Thierry G., Condon, Nicholas, Pimentel, Bruna Natalia Alves da Silva, Vergani, Carlos, Smith, Maree T., Fraser, James A., Williams, Craig M. and Guddat, Luke W (2020). Herbicides that target acetohydroxyacid synthase are potent inhibitors of the growth of drug resistant Candida auris. ACS infectious diseases, 6 (11) acsinfecdis.0c00229, 2901-2912. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.0c00229

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  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

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Journal Article

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Note for students: Dr Kylie Agnew-Francis is not currently available to take on new students.

Current Supervision