Our leadership

Centre leadership

Academic Director

Professor Stephen Simpson

Professor Stephen Simpson
Professor Simpson is leading the development of the Charles Perkins Centre's research and education strategies. His research is richly multidisciplinary, spanning locusts to humans. His work in nutritional biology has revolutionised our understanding of the dietary causes of human obesity and ageing.

"Tackling complex problems such as obesity and metabolic diseases requires many disciplines to work together," he says. "The Charles Perkins Centre will provide an environment where new perspectives can yield paradigm shifts in understanding and provide novel solutions."

Associate Academic Director, Humanities and Social Sciences

Professor Paul Griffiths

Professor Paul Griffiths
Paul Griffiths is leading the centre's work on integrating biomedical research with research on the wider social and political arrangements that provide the context for the lives and health of individual people.

"This is what the centre is about and I believe it is a worthy flagship for the University of Sydney, given its breadth of research excellence."

A philosopher of science with a focus on biology and psychology, Professor Griffiths has conducted extensive research on how people inside and outside the biological sciences understand the role of genetics factors in development, including the development of disease. His current research includes an ARC-funded study of the role of evolutionary theory in understanding non-communicable disease.

Chief Operating Officer

Michael Milne
As the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Charles Perkins Centre, Michael Milne will lead the operation of the new research and education hub facility and the delivery of the centre’s strategic objectives for cross-disciplinary research and education.

Michael brings more than a decade’s experience in senior executive roles within the sector, including his most recent role as COO of the University’s Brain and Mind Research Institute.

“I'm proud to be a part of this this visionary research and learning centre, which fosters collaborations and partnerships
with industry, government and communities."

Research domain leaders

Populations: the phenomenology of disease

Domain leader to be announced.

The biology of disease

David James

Professor David E. James
Professor David James is the Leonard P. Ullman Chair of Metabolic Systems Biology at the Charles Perkins Centre and Professor in the School of Molecular Bioscience and the Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney. David undertook his PhD at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and his undergraduate degree and Honours at University of New South Wales.

David has made major contributions to our understanding of insulin action. In the late 1980s he published a series of journal articles in Nature describing the identification and characterization of the insulin responsive glucose transporter GLUT4. He then focused his efforts on unveiling the cellular and molecular control of insulin-stimulated glucose transport. He has also made contributions in the area of SNARE proteins, signal transduction and more recently in systems biology.

Biology in a societal and environmental context

Professor Paul Griffiths

Professor Paul Griffiths (acting)
Paul Griffiths, a philosopher of science with a focus on biology and psychology, is leading the centre's work on how to integrate biomedical research with research on the wider social, political, historical and environmental contexts that shape the lives and health of individual people.

This domain will place our knowledge about the biological bases of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease within wider contexts, such as human psychology, historical precedents, social and cultural norms, food production and the built environment.

Solution design, implementation, and efficacy

Professor Andrew Wilson

Professor Andrew Wilson
Andrew Wilson’s research concerns the application of epidemiology to informed decision-making in clinical medicine, public health, and health system policy and planning. Andrew is also Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy.

As leader of this domain, Andrew will work with clinicians and other health practitioners, experts from the humanities and social sciences, psychologists, and public health researchers to implement change, both at the individual and societal levels.

"Our aim is to link research translation and implementation to achieve better policy and practice in the prevention and management of chronic disease."

Research theme leaders


Professor David Raubenheimer

Professor David Raubenheimer
David Raubenheimer joined the University in April 2013 as the Leonard P Ullmann Chair in Nutritional Ecology. He is a leading expert in nutritional ecology: the discipline that studies how nutrition-related aspects of an animal’s environment interact with its biology to determine health and fitness outcomes. His approach is comparative, using ecological and evolutionary diversity to understand these interactions. His studies of insects, fish, birds and a variety of mammals have helped develop a new approach to human nutrition-related problems, such as the dietary causes of obesity.

“Solutions to many of the world’s most pressing problems lie at the interface between conventional academic disciplines. The richly interdisciplinary environment of the Charles Perkins Centre provides unprecedented opportunity for experts to overreach their subject and find solutions that have to date evaded our best efforts.”

Physical activity, exercise and energy expenditure

Professor Adrian Bauman

Professor Adrian Bauman
Adrian Bauman is internationally renowned for his work on the epidemiology of physical activity. In recent years he has shown how reducing sitting could help prevent the development of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. He is also Director of the Prevention Research Collaboration in the University’s School of Public Health.

“The Charles Perkins Centre has the exciting potential to bring researchers from different disciplines together to tackle the challenging public health problems of physical inactivity and obesity. This is urgent and important as we can’t solve these complex problems from the health sector alone."

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

Theme leader to be announced.
This is a priority theme, as the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is a primary focus for the University of Sydney and of Australia as a whole. The theme will engage all domains of the Charles Perkins Centre, and work will be conducted in partnership with Indigenous communities to deliver improved health outcomes.

Ethics, politics and governance of chronic disease

Professor Paul Griffiths

Professor Paul Griffiths (acting)
Paul Griffiths (Associate Academic Director, Humanities and Social Sciences) is leading this theme, which considers the ethical and political dimension of decisions made about the prevention and treatment of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"The theme encompasses all aspects of research required to construct a robust normative framework for the justification and criticism of policies for the alleviation of non-communicable diseases. This will include contributions from a wide range of disciplines including law, ethics, political theory, economics, and sociology."

Complex systems and modelling

Associate Professor Zdenka Kuncic

Associate Professor Zdenka Kuncic
Zdenka Kuncic is Associate Professor of Physics at the School of Physics, where she leads a highly interdisciplinary research program at the interface between the physical and life sciences. Her research interests include radiation biophysics, biomedical imaging, targeted molecular imaging and therapy, computational nanomedicine and complex systems modelling.

Within her team, physics-based methods (experimental as well as theoretical, mathematical and computational modelling approaches) and fundamental physical principles are applied to advance our understanding of complex living systems and human diseases.

She leads the Integrative Systems Lab and the Judith and David Coffey LifeLab at the Charles Perkins Centre.