Our research is focused on expanding our knowledge on the role that lifestyle associated diseases play in limiting not only our lifespan but also our quality of life.
Our ability to age well and age productively is affected by a number of health issues, including:
- cardiovascular disease
- gastrointestinal issues (including irritable bowel, GIT diseases, and appetite regulation)
- musculoskeletal health (including physical functioning and sarcopenia)
To expand our knowledge, the Biomedical & Lifestyle Diseases (BioLED) Unit utilises laboratory based scientific inquiry as well as applied clinical and therapeutic interventions to promote health and prevent illness, restore health, and promote the wellbeing of individuals.
This area of research in the College has a number of focus areas particularly associated with lifestyle and their associated socio-economic impact.
Lifestyle associated diseases
Poor lifestyle is the overriding health problem that is linked to elevated risk of many chronic diseases (including, but not limited to, obesity, Type II Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), cardiovascular disease and cancer), with an array of health consequences. This imposes a tremendous financial and social toll on the overall health of the Australian population.
Socio and economic impact
The direct financial cost to the Australian economy of people suffering with obesity alone, was approximately $3.767 billion in 2005, with an additional $17.2 billion being attributed to loss of wellbeing. The impact of these lifestyle diseases on the health care system and on the economy will worsen with the rates of these diseases expected to continue to rise (1.7 million people in 2005 to 3.3 million by 2031, with diabetes alone Ausdiab 2006). Despite this huge impact (both social and economical), so little is known of the complex physiology that dictates the prevention, intervention and maintenance of many lifestyle diseases, and of how many of these diseases are inter-related.
Our laboratory based investigative approach uses intensive laboratory analysis of health related phenomena with the intent of future clinical application. This approach provides greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms of medical conditions, such as the development of obesity related illnesses.
The laboratory based approach comprises several laboratory based biomedical sciences disciplines, including several applied disciplines:
- molecular and nutritional physiology and pharmacology
- muscle and exercise metabolism
- immunology and cancer
- complementary medicine
- musculoskeletal health
- infection and disease.
This research unit aims to integrate the disciplines of nutrition, biomedical and physiological sciences and osteopathy, to provide a multifaceted approach to public health needs. The capacity of this research team can progress research at any point from pure scientific inquiry to applied physiological and experimental medicine, and further translate this into positive health outcomes in a society being crippled by our current lifestyle promoted preventable diseases. Basic biomedical research is applied to problems of modern diseases of abnormal adaptations, converting it into practical therapeutic and public health applications.
One of the key strengths of this research unit is the ability of its researchers to translate these laboratory based findings, which may involve in vitro or animal models, into human models of these disease states. This translation ultimately leads to the enhancement of clinical management and prevention, and as a consequence, improving the lifestyle and wellbeing of individuals.
The members of the Biomedical & Lifestyle Diseases Research Unit have a strong presence within the College of Health and Biomedicine, but also in:
- Western Centre for Health Research and Education (Western CHRE)
- Institute of Sports, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
These research facilities include access to:
- cell culture laboratories and PC2 facilities
- small animal housing and experimental facilities (eg. metabolic cages, rodent treadmills, small animal MRI, blood pressure analysis systems)
- biomedical facilities (eg. radiation, protein and gene analysis, microscopy, Bioplex analysis systems)
- cutting edge human metabolic testing facilities (eg. exercise physiology labs, altitude hotel, biomechanics labs, motor learning and skilled performance labs, sport and exercise biochemistry labs, motor control and biofeedback labs and exercise rehabilitation clinics)
- nutrition teaching clinics which enable large scale nutrition intervention research trials for investigation of weight loss/gain, meal responses, lifestyle interventions, nutraceuticals and pharmacotherapy.
View the Biomedical & Lifestyle Diseases capabilities statement for a brief overview of our research focus, expertise, facilities and resources, track record, profile and contact information.
Our research students
Research Supervisors guide and mentor students from commencement through to final submission of their thesis. Our postgraduate students are developing practical research skills and research networks to support their progress.
Members of the Biomedical & Lifestyle Diseases Unit continue to publish their work in a broad range of scholarly journals and in proceedings of international learned conferences. A list of our recent publications is available.
Professor Andrew McAinch
Unit Leader, Biomedical & Lifestyle Diseases Unit
Phone: +61 3 9919 2019
Dr Matthew Cooke
Deputy Leader, Biomedical & Lifestyle Diseases Unit
Phone: +61 3 9919 2566