Vale Nigel Stepto

Nigel joined Victoria University in 2007, as a Lecturer in Exercise Physiology in the School of Sport and Exercise Science. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2012, Associate Professor in 2014 and was appointed in 2018 as Professor of Clinical Exercise Science, thus attaining full Professorship after only 11 years. Nigel was most recently co-Deputy Director – Research Training, of the Institute for Health and Sport, and a vital member of the VU Research Executive Group, since their inception in 2018. 

Nigel was a significant contributor to teaching in Exercise Physiology at VU over many years in the School of Sport and Exercise Science, later College of Sport and Exercise Science. Nigel was active in many leadership roles in the School/College including as the School’s Postgraduate Studies Coordinator, representative on the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee, College Director of Research Training, and on the College Leadership Team.  

Nigel’s great passion was research and his research career was outstanding, with global impact. His research traversed exercise physiology, muscle metabolism, insulin sensitivity and over the past decade, he increasingly focussed on women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). He was a member of an international consortium that published guidelines for the assessment and treatment of PCOS, including recommendations for exercise interventions. He published over 84 journal articles, with strong citations and was an invited speaker at Australian and international conferences. He was recently awarded almost $1M in NH&MRC funding as first investigator.  

Nigel’s research has been career-building and defining for many others, including three postdoctoral research fellows, 12 PhD graduates (6 as Principal Supervisor) and 16 Honours students as Principal supervisor. He was supervising two PhD students and one postdoctoral fellow. All have received exceptionally high quality training under Nigel’s guidance. This outstanding contribution to facilitating so many people’s careers was recognised in 2017 when Nigel was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence in Research and Research Training (Supervision). His passionate support of Higher Degree by Research students at VU throughout his career culminated in his most recent leadership role where he impacted the careers of literally hundreds of students in the Institute. Nigel was a great contributor to leading research in our Institutes, initially in the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living and recently in the Institute for Health and Sport, where he was Research Group Leader in Women’s Health and a vital member of the Institute Executive and Institute Leadership Team. Nigel was also a strong supporter of the national body, Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA), including as member for six years and most recently, Chair, of the ESSA Research Committee; he will be awarded (posthumously) an ESSA Fellowship at their upcoming National Conference. Nigel was also a Project Director and valued member of the Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science (AIMSS), our joint Institute with Western Health and University of Melbourne. 

Just 7 days before his death in 2020, over 50 staff and PhD students from the Institute for Health and Sport and VU Research were privileged to visit Nigel and pay respects to him and his family. There we announced the Institute’s Nigel Stepto Travel Award to support HDR student travel to international conferences, a Nigel Stepto PhD Student Scholarship, along with an Outstanding Service Award from the Institute for Health and Sport.  

Nigel left us too soon and he will be greatly missed by his many colleagues and friends at VU. He is survived by his wife Fiona and his daughters Matilda and Harriet.

Areas of expertise

  • Polycystic Ovary syndrome
  • Exercise is Medicine
  • Molecular Mechanisms of Insulin Resistance
  • Molecular and cellular mechanisms of adaptation to exercise
  • Women's health

Publications

Nigel has over 104 publications, with a selection listed here.

A more comprehensive list of Nigel's publications is available in the VU Research Repository.

Stepto, N. K., Moreno-Asso, A., McIlvenna, L. C., Walters, K. A., & Rodgers, R. J. (2019). Molecular Mechanisms of Insulin Resistance in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Unraveling the Conundrum in Skeletal Muscle?The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 104(11), (5372-5381).

Stepto, N. K., Patten, R. K., Tassone, E. C., Misso, M. L., Brennan, L., Boyle, J., Boyle, R. A., Harrison, C. L., Hirschberg, A. L., & Marsh, K. (2019). Exercise Recommendations for Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Is the Evidence Enough?Sports Medicine, 49(8), (1143-1157).

Hiam, D., Patten, R., Gibson-Helm, M., Moreno-Asso, A., McIlvenna, L., Levinger, I., Harrison, C., Moran, L. J., Joham, A., & Parker, A. (2019). The effectiveness of high intensity intermittent training on metabolic, reproductive and mental health in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: Study protocol for the iHIT- randomised controlled trialTrials, 20(1),

Rodgers, R. J., Avery, J. C., Moore, V. M., Davies, M. J., Azziz, R., Stener-Victorin, E., Moran, L. J., Robertson, S. A., Stepto, N. K., & Norman, R. J. (2019). Complex diseases and co-morbidities: Polycystic ovary syndrome and type 2 diabetes mellitusEndocrine Connections, 8(3), (R71-R75).

Teede, H. J., Misso, M. L., Costello, M. F., Dokras, A., Laven, J., Moran, L., Piltonen, T., Norman, R. J., Andersen, M., & Azziz, R. (2018). Recommendations from the international evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndromeClinical Endocrinology, 89(3), (251-268).

Costa, E. C., De, S., Stepto, N. K., Costa, I. BB., Farias-Junior, L. F., Moreira, S. DNT., Soares, E. MM., Lemos, T. MAM., Browne, R. AV., & Azevedo, G. D. (2018). Aerobic Training Improves Quality of Life in Women with Polycystic Ovary SyndromeMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 50(7), (1357-1366).

Shorakae, S., Abell, S. K., Hiam, D. S., Lambert, E. A., Eikelis, N., Jona, E., Sari, C. I., Stepto, N. K., Lambert, G. W., & de, Courten. (2018). High-molecular-weight adiponectin is inversely associated with sympathetic activity in polycystic ovary syndromeFertility and Sterility, 109(3), (532-539).

Teede, H. J., Misso, M. L., Costello, M. F., Dokras, A., Laven, J., Moran, L., Piltonen, T., Norman, R. J., Andersen, M., & Azziz, R. (2018). Recommendations from the international evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndromeHuman Reproduction, 33(9), (1602-1618).

Trewin, A. J., Levinger, I., Parker, L., Shaw, C. S., Serpiello, F. R., Anderson, M. J., McConell, G. K., Hare, D. L., & Stepto, N. K. (2017). Acute exercise alters skeletal muscle mitochondrial respiration and H2O2 emission in response to hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp in middle-aged obese menPLoS ONE, 12(11),

Scott, D., Harrison, C. L., Hutchison, S., De, Courten., & Stepto, N. K. (2017). Exploring factors related to changes in body composition, insulin sensitivity and aerobic capacity in response to a 12-week exercise intervention in overweight and obese women with and without polycystic ovary syndromePLoS ONE, 12(8).

Research funding for the past 5 years

Please note:

  • funding is ordered by the year the project commenced and may continue over several years
  • funding amounts for contact research are not disclosed to maintain commercial confidentiality
  • the order of investigators is not indicative of the role they played in the research project.

  • Does the epigenome determine the response to exercise in women with PCOS?
    From: NHMRC
    Investigators: Dr Alba Moreno-asso, Dr Sarah Voisin
    For period: 2019-2019
    Amount: $12,900
  • Tissue Fibrosis and Exercise in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Linking Mechanisms to Therapy
    From: NHMRC
    Investigators: Prof Andrew Mcainch
    For period: 2019-2022
    Amount: $990,937

  • Intense Exercise for survival among men with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (Interval - MCRPC)
    From: Movember Foundation
    Investigators: Prof Alan Hayes
    For period: 2018-2020
    Amount: Not disclosed
  • The role of skeletal muscle extracellular matrix remodelling in the development of insulin resistance in women with PCOS
    From: NHMRC
    Investigators: Dr Alba Moreno-asso
    For period: 2018-2019
    Amount: $12,000
  • Mechanism of insulin resistance in skeletal muscle of women with PCOS: The role of Transforming Growth factor (TFG) and issue fibrosis
    From: Diabetes Australia Research Trust
    Investigators: Prof Andrew Mcainch, Dr Alba Moreno-asso
    For period: 2018-2018
    Amount: $58,162

  • Efficacy of HIIT for Improving Mental Health in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: a Pilot study
    From: NHMRC - Centre for Research Excellence Award
    For period: 2017-2018
    Amount: $13,700
  • Mechanism of insulin resistance inskeletal muscle of women with PCOS: The role of Transforming Growth Factor (TGF) and tissue fibrosis
    From: NHMRC - Centre for Research Excellence Award
    Investigators: Dr Alba Moreno-asso
    For period: 2017-2018
    Amount: $15,000
  • Developing a tissue culture model of exercise training: Impacts of contraction on human myotube function and metabolism in health and disease.
    From: Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living
    For period: 2017-2018
    Amount: $6,994
  • Active AMP Endurance Exercise Trial
    From: Gencor Pacific
    Investigators: Dr Xu Yan, Prof Andrew Mcainch, Prof Michael Mathai
    For period: 2017-2018
    Amount: Not disclosed
  • iHIT-PCOS: A small randomized control trial investigating the impact of High-intensity intermittent training of metabolic, reproductive and psychological health in young women at high-risk of chronic
    From: NHMRC - Centre for Research Excellence Award
    For period: 2017-2018
    Amount: $6,000

  • Gene-specific methylation and its role in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
    From: NHMRC - Centre for Research Excellence Award
    For period: 2016-2017
    Amount: $12,500
  • Secondment Grant
    From: NHMRC - Centre for Research Excellence Award
    For period: 2016-2017
    Amount: $6,500

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: An Epigenetic Approach
    From: NHMRC - Centre for Research Excellence Award
    For period: 2015-2017
    Amount: $5,000
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: an epigenetic approach
    From: NHMRC (Non-Lead Org)
    For period: 2015-2016
    Amount: $5,000
  • Growing a healthy baby: Getting the balance right in pregnancy
    From: Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation (LMCF)
    Investigators: Prof Mary Carolan-olah
    For period: 2015-2017
    Amount: $49,849
  • 1/2 HDR Scholarship: Lifestyle interventions for improved Fertility Outcomes in PCOS
    From: NHMRC (Non-Lead Org)
    For period: 2015-2016
    Amount: $19,000

Supervising & teaching

Supervision of research students at VU

  • Principal supervisor, one Masters by Research student
  • Principal supervisor, two PhD students.

Completed supervision

  • Principal supervisor, six PhD students
  • Associate supervisor, one PhD student.

Other supervision of research students

Supervision of external students at Victoria University:

  • one UROP student (AIMSS and IHES)
  • one MDRP student (Melbourne University)
  • two international visiting students.

Monash University:

  • three PhD students (associate supervisor)
  • three honours students (principal supervisor)
  • three honours students (associate supervisor).

Teaching activities & experience

Undergraduate teaching

Postgraduate teaching

SCL6102 Exercise Assessments and Interventions for Metabolic and Respiratory Conditions

Career

Key academic roles

Dates

Role

Department / Organisation

Jan 2018 - Dec 2019

Co-Deputy Director - Research Training

Institute for Health and Sport (IHES), Victoria University

Jan 2017 - Dec 2017

Director Research Training

College of Sport and Exercise Science, Victoria University

Key industry, community & government roles

Dates

Role

Department/Organisation

Jan 2019 - Dec 2021

Chair of Research Advisory Committee

Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA)

Jan 2016 - Dec 2020

Committee/board member

Centre of Research Excellence for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Jan 2016 - Dec 2018

Committee Member – Position Statement and Research Committee

Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA)

Keynote & invited speeches

  • Lifestyle Recommendations and the Role of the Exercise (and the Exercise Physiologist) in the Treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
    Australian Traditional Medicine Society Workshop on PCOS, Sydney Australia, 16 September 2018
  • Exercise in PCOS - Evidence update.
    The 8th Exercise and Sports Science Australia Conference, Research to Practice, Brisbane Exhibition Centre, Queensland, Australia, 27–29 March 2018
  • Exercise and Insulin Action in PCOS
    Melbourne Muscle and Exercise Meeting, Melbourne University, 16 November 2017
  • Meet the Professor: Choosing the Exercise Program in Obese and Diabetic PCOS Patients
    15th Annual AE-PCOS society meeting, San Antonio Texas USA, 26–28 October 2017
  • Exercise and Physical Activity in PCOS: A Therapeutic Approach That Informs Aetiology
    14th Annual AE-PCOS society meeting, Lorne Australia, 10–12 November 2016

Professional memberships

  • AEP/AES and member, Exercise & Sports Science Australia
  • Member, Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society
  • Member, Australian Diabetes Society
  • Member, Androgen Excess and PCO Society

Appearances in the media