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Prestigious fellowship for genetics researcher

Dr Nir Eynon

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has recognised Dr Nir Eynon as one of Australia’s top early-to-mid-career researchers, awarding him a highly competitive Career Development Fellowship for his ground-breaking work on genes.

Dr Eynon, leader of VU’s Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)’s Genes and Exercise Biology Group, will receive $431,000 over four years to target or discover new genes related to muscle performance.

The Gene-SMART study

The first-of-its-kind research will see Dr Eynon and his team comprehensively assess the genes and molecular pathways that contribute to muscle health, in an international multi-centre study 'Genes and Skeletal Muscle Adaptive Response to Training (Gene-SMART)'.

The results could potentially be used to develop personalised exercise programs based on an individual’s genes. They could also help to prevent or manage chronic diseases associated with decreased muscle function, such as osteoporosis or diabetes.

This project builds on Dr Eynon’s existing work examining why people get different results from the same physical workout, based on their genetics. His study focused particularly on the ACTN3 gene – often referred to as the human speed gene.

Dr Eynon & his VU team

Dr Eynon, who came to VU as a post-doctoral researcher from Israel in 2011, is the first VU academic to receive the NHMRC Fellowship in addition to an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship (2014-16).  

He is an internationally recognised expert in the field of genetics and molecular biology of exercise, and currently co-leads a large international genes and exercise research group (The Athlome Consortium) collaborating with other expert researchers in the field.

His team includes an emerging postdoctoral fellow Dr Sarah Voisin, three PhD students, and one honours student.

Dr Eynon’s award-winning project is titled: Discovering and targeting genes regulating skeletal muscle function, metabolism, and adaptations to exercise interventions.

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