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Obesity and Metabolism Group

Obesity rates are rising in Australia and globally, which means that a large portion of the population is facing increased risks for many chronic diseases.

The Obesity and Metabolism Group wants to understand the molecular and physiological basis of obesity and its co-morbidities and, in particular, the role insulin resistance plays in these conditions.

Our work lies at the interface between basic and clinical science. Our focus is to better understand the mechanisms of insulin resistance in skeletal muscle and in adipose tissue by studying various environmental perturbations—for example, overfeeding, calorie restriction, exercise, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. With a greater understanding of nutrition and metabolism in muscle and adipose tissue, we may be able to realise a reduction of chronic disease risk and insulin resistance.

We are also interested in the role that nutrition plays in healthy ageing and the mechanism of insulin resistance in children born through in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The number of children conceived by IVF is increasing—now totalling more than five million across the world. Accumulated evidence suggests that children born via IVF have altered health profiles compared to their non-IVF peers. Through our research work, we are providing new data regarding the long-term health consequences of over-nutrition and obesity in human health and, specifically, the long-term health consequences of IVF offspring.

Lead researcher: Associate Professor Leonie Heilbronn

Research team


Interested in undertaking a postgraduate research degree with us?

We offer exciting opportunities for researchers at the honours, masters and PhD levels. Our research degrees are open to students from a broad range of backgrounds, and range from basic sciences to clinical research. If you are interested in human health, consider furthering your research career with us.