Emma has been a teaching and research academic at Victoria University since 2006 within the College of Health and Biomedicine. During this time, she has held core administrative roles including:

  • Course Leader of the Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (2006) and Biomedicine (2015) degrees
  • Selection Officer for the Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences and associated double degrees (2006-2012)
  • Category B member on the Victoria University Animal Ethics Committee (2014-present).

Emma is a skeletal muscle physiologist whose research focuses on the metabolic impairments associated with muscle wasting diseases such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Type II Diabetes and following treatment with anti-cancer chemotherapy.

She obtained her PhD from Victoria University in 2008, which importantly established that Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is linked to a mitochondrial Complex I deficiency.

She leads a young group of PhD, Honours and undergraduate research project students with a key focus on mitochondria-targeted therapeutics for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and the muscle wasting associated with anti-cancer chemotherapy treatment, at the Western Centre for Health, Research and Education (Sunshine Hospital). 


Refereed journal articles

Sorensen, J.C., Cheregi, B.D., impani, C.A., Nurgali, K, Hayes, A. & Rybalka, E. Mitochondria: Inadvertent targets in chemotherapy-induced skeletal muscle toxicity and wasting? Cancer Chemotherapy & Pharmacology

Rybalka, E., Timpani, C. A., Stathis, C. S., Hayes, A., & Cooke, M. B. (2015). Metabogenic and Nutriceutical Approaches to Address Energy Dysregulation and Skeletal Muscle Wasting in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Nutrients, 7(12), 9734-9767.

Timpani, C. A., Hayes, A., & Rybalka, E. (2015). Revisiting the dystrophin-ATP connection: How half a century of research still implicates mitochondrial dysfunction in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy aetiology. Medical Hypotheses, 13 pages.

Tuckett, E., Gosetti, T., Hayes, A., Rybalka, E., & Verghese, E. (2015). Increased calcium in neurons in the cerebral cortex and cerebellum is not associated with cell loss in the mdx mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Neuroreport.

Rybalka, E., Timpani, C. A., Cooke, M. B., Williams, A. D., & Hayes, A. (2014). Defects in mitochondrial ATP synthesis in dystrophin-deficient Mdx skeletal muscles may be caused by complex I insufficiency. PLoS ONE, 9(12). 

Conference presentations

Cheregi, B., Timpani, C., Nurgali, K., Hayes, A., & Rybalka, E. (2015). Chemotherapy-induced mitochondrial respiratory dysfunction, oxidant production and death in healthy skeletal muscle C2C12 myoblast and myotube models. In Neuromuscular Disorders Vol. 25 (pp. S202).

Timpani, C., Trewin, A., Betik, A., Stepto, N., Hayes, A., McConell, G., . . . Rybalka, E. (2015). Glucose uptake and mitochondrial function following 8 weeks of dietary nitrate supplementation in the dystrophin-deficient mdx mouse. In Neuromuscular Disorders Vol. 25 (pp. S294).

Timpani, C. A., Clark, J., Mier, J., Hayes, A., & Rybalka, E. (2015). Adenylosuccinic acid therapy attenuates skeletal muscle histopathology in the dystrophin-deficient mdx mouse. In Proceedings of the Australian Physiological Society. Hobart, Tasmania, Australia: Australian Physiological Society.

Hayes, A., Andreacchio, N., Timpani, C. A., Hanson, E. D., & Rybalka, E. (2015). Effects of vitamin D supplementation on dystrophic (mdx) muscles during damage and repair. In Proceedings of the Australian Physiological Society. Hobart, Tasmania, Australia: Australian Physiological Society.

Sorensen, J., Timpani, C. A., Campelj, D., Petersen, A., Hayes, A., & Rybalka, E. (2015). Idebenone protects against chemotherapy-induced skeletal muscle wasting and mitochondrial dysfunction in mice. In Proceedings of the Australian Physiological Society. Hobart, Tasmania, Australia: Australian Physiological Society.

Teaching responsibilities

Teaching responsibilities

  • Advanced Nerve and Muscle Physiology
  • Advanced Experimental Techniques
  • Research Methods
  • Growth and Early Development
  • Growth and Ageing
  • Project (Research).


  • Research Methods
  • Project (Research)
  • Growth and Early Development
  • Growth and Ageing.

Postgraduate research students and fellows 


6 Summer Research Internship students, 6 Honours students, 1 PhD student.

Current supervision

3 PhD students, 4 Honours students, 1 research project student.

Research grants

Dr Rybalka has been awarded internal research funding totalling $90k, and internal infrastructure funding totalling $200k.

Internal grants

2015-2016 CI: Rybalka; AIs: Petersen, Hayes, McConell, Nurgali, Goodman, Blazev, Sullivan-Gunn, Timpani, Hansen. Protective potential of BGP-15, Idebenone, and Nitrate against chemotherapy-induced skeletal muscle atrophy and dysfunction. Institute of Sport, Exercise & Active Living (ISEAL) Clinical Exercise Program Grant Scheme & Centre for Chronic Disease, College of Health and Biomedicine supplementary grant; $39,900

2014-2016 CI: Rybalka,CI; Nurgali, MI. The effect of chemotherapeutic agents on healthy skeletal muscle survival and metabolic function in myoblast and myotube cell culture models. Research Interruption Enhancement Grant – College of Health & Biomedicine; $20,000

2011-20142014 CI: Rybalka; MIs: Hayes & McConell. Is part of the metabolic dysfunction of dystrophin-deficient mdx mouse muscle due to concurrent reductions in neuronal nitric oxide synthase? Early Career Research Development Grant – Victoria University; $29,262

Infrastructure grants

2010 CIs: Rybalka, Hayes, Stathis)

Faculty Infrastructure Grant – Seahorse Extracellular Flux Analyser; $200,000.

Professional memberships

  • World Muscle Society
  • Australian Physiological Society
  • Australian Neuromuscular Network.

Industry experience

  • Scientific consultant Santhera Pharmaceuticals


Areas of expertise

  • Chemotherapy
  • Diabetes and obesity
  • Dietary supplementation
  • Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
  • Glucose metabolism
  • Metabolic therapy
  • Metabolism
  • MitochondriaMitochondrial therapy
  • Muscle atrophy and wasting
  • Muscle growth and hypertrophy
  • Muscle physiology
  • Muscle recovery

Contact details

+61 (3) 8395 8226