DR David Williams

DR David Williams


  • Antivenom design, development and production (snakes, antivenoms, envenoming, treatment, neglected tropical diseases)
  • Clinical toxinology of animal venoms (snakes, snake bite, antivenoms, epidemiology, clinical management, prevention, first aid, GIS mapping, training, education)
  • Clinical trials (snakebite, antivenoms, clinical trials)
  • First aid for snake bites (snakes, firstaid, pressure immobilisation, snakebite)
  • Health worker training and education (snakebite, envenoming, treatment, developing nations, training)
  • Venomous snake systematics and phylogeography (snakes, systematics, taxonomy, biogeography, phylogenetics)



  • Career summary: Dr David Williams is the Head, Australian Venom Research Unit, in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Melbourne, leading a team focused on preclinical and clinical toxinology research as well as venomous injury surveillance, medical and community education. He joined academia in 1999 as a mature-age undergraduate after having worked in zoos, public exhibits and venom production laboratories as a herpetologist specialising in venomous snakes for most of his adult life. While still an undergraduate at James Cook University (JCU) he pursued an interest in snake bite by undertaking an epidemiological study of snake bites in rural Papua New Guinea. This work lead to a Graduate Diploma (Research Methods) from JCU’s School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, and was followed by a prospective clinical study of snake bite envenoming at Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) from 2005-2009 as the inaugural University of Melbourne‐Nossal Institute for Global Health PhD scholar. Based at the School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS), University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) in Port Moresby, PNG, he has developed key collaborations with colleagues from PNG, Costa Rica, Spain, Brazil and the UK. In PNG he established a National Reference Collection of live venomous snakes at the University of PNG in collaboration with Prof. Teatulohi Matainaho, (Dean of Research). Supported by the University of Melbourne, this capacity‐building project has led to research projects for several M.Med, MSc and Honours students, stimulating interest in clinical toxinology and providing training in basic laboratory and public health research techniques. It has also led to a partnership between the University of Melbourne, UPNG, and the Instituto Clodomiro Picado at the Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica, resulting in successful development of a new Papuan taipan antivenom. Concurrently, Dr Williams has developed successful research collabora   


Member of

  • International Society on Toxinology. Member 2009 -


Selected publications


Investigator on


Education and training

  • PhD, University of Melbourne 2014
  • GDip, James Cook University of North Queensland 2005
  • BSc, James Cook University of North Queensland 2003

Awards and honors

  • Nossal Institute for Global Health/University of Melbourne, 2005



Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • Dr Williams' interests are focused on snakebite envenoming, with particular emphasis on the suffering it causes in the tropical developing world and the development and implementation of sustainable initiatives and programs that can reduce snakebite incidence, morbidity and mortality. His work encompasses both preclinical and clinical projects, as well as research on venomous snakes, their ecology, biogeography and taxonomy. He has expertise in the design and implementation of epidemiological and clinical studies of envenoming, as well as the development of antivenoms, clinical trials and prospective cohort studies. In the laboratory is interests include proteomic, genomic, transcriptomic and antivenomic studies of snake venoms, as well as clinically orientated studies of snake venom-induced coagulopathy. His laboratory uses immunoassays of specific venom toxins, and with his collaborators and colleagues in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Melbourne he is developing an interest in the pharmacological characterisation of snake venoms.