Metabolic, Musculoskeletal and Other Co-morbid Disorders

Our Molecular Medicine team seeks to understand and improve the treatment of many of the most common chronic diseases impacting populations across all ages.

Our team, led by Theme Leader Professor Sean McGee and Deputy Theme Leader Dr Kathryn Aston-Mourney, includes prominent clinicians and scientists.

Our approach focusses on studying and understanding the basic biology of a condition and leveraging this new knowledge to develop novel treatment approaches. We use cutting-edge pre-clinical models and large-scale clinical cohort studies to gain new insights into the molecular mechanisms of disease. Our research focusses on the following areas:

Early life origins of immune disorders

Working through the Barwon Infant Study, we explore the intricate relationship between the modern environment, diet, the microbiome and its metabolites. The development of immune dysregulation, allergic disease and asthma are also being investigated.

Metabolism and metabolic diseases

This research includes the investigation of the mechanisms of metabolic dysregulation in tissues such as the heart, skeletal muscle, liver, gut and pancreas that lead to diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. We also explore the mechanisms underlying comorbid conditions of metabolic diseases, including chronic kidney disease, ocular conditions and cardiovascular disease.

Musculoskeletal health

We explore the molecular pathophysiology of shoulder conditions and investigate new surgical approaches, joint replacement outcomes and the mechanisms and predisposition for sports injuries.

We collaborate with researchers from prominent national and international institutions to expand the impact of our research. Our clinician-researchers are also actively engaged in research translation to patient and stakeholder groups.

This work not only generates new knowledge but is actively translated into real-world outcomes to benefit the broader community. Our research findings have led to novel drug discovery, drug repurposing, treatment and prevention paradigms, and process changes in care delivery.

The translational possibilities of our work are also evident in the spinout of the biotechnology companies Prevetex, Imitex and Ambetex. These companies commercialise several novel therapies for food allergies and asthma, muscle and metabolic diseases, and heart disease in obesity, respectively. Members of our research team hold key scientific appointments within these companies and their innovative research and development occur in at the laboratories at Deakin University and Barwon Health.

Team profiles:

Dr Kathryn Aston-Mourney Deputy Theme Leader
Professor James Armitage Group Leader - Developmental and Adult Determinants of Ocular and Systemic Health
Dr Leni Rivera Group Leader - Gut health and digestive diseases
Professor Peter Vuillermin Group Leader - Child Health Research Unit, Barwon Health (CHERUB)
Professor Richard Page Group Leader - B-CORE (Barwon Centre for Orthopaedic Research and Education)