Exploring the microbiome and epigenetic links in obesity development

Research Opportunity
Number of Honour Places Available
Medicine and Radiology
Austin Health
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Barbara Fam bcfam@unimelb.edu.au Personal web page

Project Details

The global obesity epidemic is worsening both here in Australia and in other Westernised countries and it is clear that current therapies, particularly those involving public health measures are ineffective in curbing this surge. There is much evidence in the literature to suggest that this epidemic is not solely due to individuals over-eating and not exercising adequately, but powerful biological factors existing that increase the chances of developing obesity when in an environment of plentiful and calorie rich foods. We have developed a mouse model of diet-induced obesity in which there is a clear divergence of the population into those that are prone to weight gain whilst on a high-energy dense (HED) diet and those that are resistant to this diet. We also have evidence that changes in nutrient specific gut receptor expression (involved in gut microbiota action) rather than central changes may be more closely linked to the differences in body weight gain responses. By using our unique mouse model of diet-induced obesity we specifically aim to: 1) Characterise in detail the gut microbiota and metabolite profile of the obesity-prone and obesity-resistant mouse populations 2) Characterise the epigenetic alterations of key gut specific nutrient receptors and determine gene/protein changes in the downstream satiety signals. Gaining these critical insights will generate important new knowledge about obesity development that are likely to lead to new approaches for future obesity management. Techniques: Energy balance studies (body weight, food intake, energy expenditure) in animals, feeding/dietary interventions in animals, gut hormone analysis, gene expression using Real Time PCR, Western Blotting for protein analysis, collaborations with epigenetic techniques.

School Research Themes


Research Opportunities

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.


Medicine and Radiology

Research Node

Austin Health

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