Protecting the gut from the damaging consequences of obesity

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Rachel McQuade
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof John Furness

Summary The healthy gut communicates with the brain and lives in harmony with the many bacteria it contains. Disorders of gut health lead to diabetes and metabolic disease, inadequate nutrition, pain, nausea, poor digestion, liver disease, and digestive diseases. The digestive Physiology and Nutrition Laboratory is working to develop new approaches to treating bowel diseases through neuromodulation, an exciting new approach in which nerves are stimulated to treat disordered function, through drug development and by unravelling the basic mechanisms essential for digestive health. We are also working to understand the reasons why gastrointestinal functions become disordered when there are pathologies of the central nervous system, such as in Parkinson’s Disease.

Project Details

Obesity is considered to be a global epidemic, with prevalence increasing at an alarming rate in many parts of the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) over 2.1 billion adults were estimated to be obese or overweight in 2016, with worldwide prevalence of obesity doubling since 19801. In Australia, two-thirds of the adult population is obese or overweight.
Damage at the level of the gut in obesity or in response to obesogenic diets has been associated with increased intestinal permeability, often referred to as “leaky gut”6. Strong evidence points to gut leakiness, and consequent entry of endotoxins, as a contributing factor in the initiation of systemic low-grade chronic inflammation7 and organ damage.
In this project determine whether protection of enteric neurons and the intestinal barrier can improve gut symptoms and impede chronic low-grade inflammation associated with obesity using a clinically approved therapeutic compound.

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

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