Several themes run as threads through our research domains offering a means of tying together the entire research network within the Charles Perkins Centre. These include:

These themes also assist in linking research projects across the University's research centres and institutes, including cancer and immunity research through the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse at RPA and Centenary Institute, infectious disease at Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, mental health at Brain and Mind Research Institute, sleep at The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, the food production system and environmental sustainability.


Solutions to many of the world’s most pressing problems lie at the interface between conventional academic disciplines. The richly inter-disciplinary 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.

Theme leader: Professor David Raubenheimer

Physical activity, exercise and energy expenditure

The 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.

The PhysicaL Activity NETwork (PLANET) brings together key researchers from eight University of Sydney faculties to develop a knowledge hub, as well as collaborative research and teaching around physical activity. Join the PLANET network.

Theme leader: Professor Adrian Bauman


Sleep, diet and exercise are widely considered the three pillars of physical wellbeing. The sleep field is particularly well suited to the interdisciplinary and translational strategies in the Charles Perkins Centre.

The Sleep theme aims to reduce the societal burden of sleep disorders through a coordinated multidisciplinary program, with a focus on the links with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. It will achieve this initially by interacting with existing research nodes and subsequently by promoting the establishment of new nodes in the areas of sleep-disordered breathing and obesity, cardiometabolic health, and technological solutions for chronic disease management.

Theme leader: Professor Peter Cistuli

Complex systems and modelling

This is a unique research theme within the Charles Perkins Centre that aims to develop integrative systems and modelling approaches to unravel the complex network of influences on nutrition and health in relation to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

From systems biology to social networks, mathematical methods and computational tools are used, alongside experimental data, to reveal the interconnections of the critical factors underpinning chronic disease. This integrative systems approach is the key to identifiying innovative solutions to the growing global health problems associated with diet and lifestyle.

Theme leader: Professor Zdenka Kuncic

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

This area is a primary focus for the University and of Australia as a whole, and is therefore a priority theme. The theme will engage all domains of the Charles Perkins Centre, and will work in partnership with indigenous communities to deliver improved health outcomes.

Theme leader: Dr Josephine Gwynn (acting)

Politics, governance and ethics

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.

Theme leader: Professor Paul Griffiths (acting)