Karen Heilbronn Lee, PhD



Karen has hands-on, high-level technical expertise in many aspects of the life sciences, more than a decade’s experience in private patent attorney practice and a strong commercial acumen honed by three years as an in-house attorney.


Karen’s practice predominately involves drafting and prosecuting biotechnology and pharmaceutical patent applications covering therapeutics, diagnostics, methods of human treatment or diagnosis, second medical uses, and methods of detecting, isolating or producing biological products or cells. She is well-versed in the notorious subject matter, support, enablement and inventiveness issues that these types of patent applications tend to attract in the major commercial jurisdictions around the world.

Karen has been extensively involved with the commercial side of IP, including advising on patentability and data requirements for new filings, freedom to operate, IP strategy, inventorship, ownership, collaborations, and assignments; and has assisted with numerous licencing deals. She has worked with a large range of clients, from start-ups to multi-national pharmaceutical companies; novice sole inventors to research institutes, hospitals, universities, tech transfer offices and corporates. She specialises in understanding her client’s needs and budget, and then tailoring patent strategies, specifications, claims and communications to meet the brief, providing upfront cost estimates and succinct, timely, commercially applicable and appropriately simplified advice.

Karen’s post-doctoral research at the University of Cambridge, UK, investigated Fc receptor signalling pathways within an autoimmunity laboratory and culminated in a Nature Medicine publication. Her PhD studies with CSIRO and the University of Melbourne investigated immunomodulation by immunotherapeutic peptides during vaccination with a live attenuated bacterial strain to an often fatal, acute inflammatory respiratory disease in pigs. These positions provided hands-on experience in a spectrum of research techniques applicable to vaccine development, microbiology, immunology, virology, biochemistry, cell biology, cell signalling, molecular biology, protein expression, microscopy including confocal microscopy, cytology and pathology.


  • Registered Patent & Trade Mark Attorney (Trans-Tasman), 2017
  • Registered Patent Attorney (Australia and New Zealand) 2010
  • Registered Trade Mark Attorney (Australia), 2009
  • Master of Industrial Property, University of Technology Sydney, Australia, 2010
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Immunology, Microbiology), The University of Melbourne, Australia, 2003
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Molecular Virology), The University of Adelaide, Australia, 1998
  • Bachelor of Science (Biochemistry, Immunology, Microbiology), The University of Adelaide, Australia, 1997


  • Fellow of the Institute of Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys of Australia (IPTA)
  • Intellectual Property Association of Australia and New Zealand (IPSANZ)
  • Australian Biotechnology Association (AusBiotech)