Genes & Performance

Victoria University has consolidated its research activity.

From 2018 research of the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living is located within the Institute for Sport, Health & Active Living.

The Genes & Performance research group differentiates the genetic and mechanical characteristics that affect training adaptability, peak performance and sporting injuries in professional and amateur athletes.

Research further explores how evidence may be leveraged to boost skill level and accomplishment, as well as diminishing the risk of injury.

Research focus

This world-standard research concentrates on the influence of genetic factors, physiology and the adaptation of individuals, with particular focus on:

  • role of genetics in the performance of elite athletes
  • genetics and training adaptation, especially in health and disease
  • exercise and muscle physiology, emphasising mitochondrial biogenesis
  • exercise adaptation and specific molecular and cellular responses
  • genetics and the molecular biology of sporting injuries.

Research approach

The group has already demonstrated research capability through an innovative body of work.

Team member publications are available in a range of prestigious journals, spanning genetics, applied physiology, and sport science. Researchers are frequently invited to peer review the work of others and routinely cited by the international research community.

The Genes & Performance group attracts prominent collaborators from Australian and global research institutes, sporting organisations and centres of learning.

The group has recently secured external funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) for a project to evaluate how common gene variants shape the metabolism of muscles and sporting performance.

Genes & Performance is led by Dr Nir Eynon.

Major projects

Major programs of research currently in progress include:

  • The SpeedGene study
    A way to identify genetic markers that influence adaptation to exercise training and health-related phenotypes.
    David Bishop, Nir Eynon, Xu Yan
  • The ‘PowerGene’ consortium
    Nir Eynon, Kathryn North (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute), Peter Houweling (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute), David Bishop, Xu Yan, Alejandro Lucia (Universidad Europe de Madrid, Spain), Pawel Cieszczyk (University of Szczecin, Poland), Yannis Pitsiladis (Brighton University, UK)
  • The effect of common gene variant (alpha-actinin-3 deficiency) on muscle metabolism and adaptation to exercise training in humans
    David Bishop, Nir Eynon, Xu Yan, Kathryn North (Murdoch Childrens Research Institute), Kate Quinlan (University of Sydney, Australia)
  • Predicting Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries using genetic markers
    Nir Eynon, Pawel Cieszczyk (Gadensk University, Poland), Phong Tram (Head of Orthopaedic Department Western Health Hospital, Victoria), Julian Feller (The Epworth Hospital, Victoria)

View related Honours projects.


Academic and research papers published by members of this research group include:

Eynon N, Hanson ED, Lucia A, Houweling PJ, Garton F, North KN, Bishop DJ. "Genes for elite power and sprint performance: ACTN3 leads the way". Sports Medicine. 43: 803-817, 2013 (IF=5.15)

Bishop DJ, Granata C, Eynon N. "Can we optimise the exercise training prescription to maximise improvements mitochondria function and content?" Invited Review. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) 1840: 1266-1275, 2014. (IF=3.9). (Part of a Special Issue entitled Frontiers of Mitochondrial Research)

Voisin S, Cieszczyk P, Pushkarev VP, Dyatlov DA, Vashlyayev BF, Shumaylov VA, Maciejewska-Karlowska A, Sawczuk M, Skuza L, Jastrzebski Z, Bishop DJ, Eynon N. "EPAS1 gene variants are associated with sprint/power athletic performance in two cohorts of European athletes". BMC Genomics (Accepted April 2014 - Impact Factor 4.4)

Ficek K, Cięszczyk P, Kaczmarczyk M, Maciejewska-Karłowska A, Sawczuk M, Cholewiński J, Leońska-Duniec A, Stępień-Słodkowska M, Zarębska A, Stepto NK, Bishop DJ, Eynon N. "Gene variants within the COL1A1 gene are associated with reduced Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury in professional soccer players". Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 16: 396-400, 2013 (IF=2.9). Highlighted paper

Pitsalidis YP, Wang G, Wolfarth B, Scott R, Fuku N, He Z, Fiuza-Luces, Eynon N, Lucia A. "Genomics of Elite Sporting Performance: What little we know and necessary advances". Invited Review. British Journal of Sports Medicine 47:550-555, 2013. (Impact Factor=4.1).


Staff and students participating in the Genes & Performance research group include: