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Featured academics

Meet some members of our team

Our researchers are at the forefront of exciting fields. Read about their latest projects and the people who inspire them every day.


Dr Josephine Gwynn

Dr Jo Gwynn

Themes and nodes:

What is your area of expertise?

My work aims to ease the burden of diabetes-related ill health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by understanding and addressing nutrition and physical activity risk factors, environmental contributors and workforce capacity.

The Charles Perkins Centre provides a rich environment of opportunity -- a talented and diverse collection of inspiring academics ready to work together and to challenge status quo.

What is the vision of your research in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nutrition and physical activity?

To understand the substantial changes to the dietary intake and physical activity participation of Australia’s first peoples since colonisation, and to develop community-driven programs (research and education) to address these changes.


Associate Professor Robyn Alders

Associate Professor Robyn Alders

Project node:

Healthy food systems

Tell us about the real-world impact of the research that Healthy food systems is doing.

We provide data and informed advice based on research regarding good nutrition, its production and delivery and the interrelationships between male and female farmers, gatherers, traders, agricultural, environmental and public health regulators, consumers and policy-makers in Australia and other countries to support policies for ecologically sustainable food systems that deliver, safe, ethical, feasible and healthy diets.  Our research has contributed to improved evidence-based interdisciplinary research, policy environments and better practices and actions in line with our vision.

What projects are you working on with your colleagues at the moment?

  • Secure, safe, sustainable food systems: safe today, optimal for the future
  • Strengthening food and nutrition security through family poultry and crop integration in Tanzania and Zambia
  • Developing a model for understanding and promoting dietary diversity in Zambia
  • Safe Pork: Market-based approaches to improving the safety of pork in Vietnam

What unexpected collaborations have you had as a result of working within the Charles Perkins Centre?

  • Working with dietetians to investigate options for improving the diets of Australian women and the elderly.
  • Being part of a successful bid to establish a Human Healthy and Social Impacts node at the University of Sydney funded by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

Professor David James

Professor David James

Research group:

David James Lab

What is the vision of the David James Lab?

Our vision is to develop novel strategies to understand how multiple parameters like genes, the environment and early life exposure influence long-term health in a combinatorial and individualistic manner. From this will emerge a brand new way of delivering health care to populations that not only transform health, but also all of the relevant industries, such as food technology, data science and security.

What are the highlights and challenges of your role?

The highlights of my job are the challenges. These are varied and numerous: working with really bright and motivated individuals; recruiting new groups to the CPC to fulfill its mission; launching brand new initiatives that facilitate interdisciplinary projects; working with the wider university community.

Which three items would you take to a desert island?

Taking a leaf out of Noah’s book I would take 3 of everything. 


Dr Melkam Kebede

Dr Melkam Kebede

Research group:

Islet Biology and Metabolism Research Group

What is the Kebede Lab's area of expertise and research?

Our group’s major research interest is to understand the molecular mechanisms that are relevant to the formation, storage and secretion of insulin secretory granules in pancreatic beta-cells and the mechanisms of islet β-cell failure in these processes in the pathogenesis of obesity-associated type 2 diabetes. Our area of expertise include cell biology, animal physiology, mouse genetics, immunofluorescence microscopy, metabolic studies in mice, isolation of islets from the mouse and in vitro analysis of insulin secretion.

The highlight of my role is the simple fact that I LOVE what I do.

Who inspires you?

The several diabetic patients who I met through some of my community works inspire me. Their occasional emails and/or calls with questions and encouragements are my constant source of inspiration to continue waging war on diabetes. They remind me of the real-world impact of what we do in the lab and here at CPC.


Professor Paul Griffiths

Professor Paul Griffiths

Project node:

Theory and methods in bioscience node

What is the vision of Theory and methods in bioscience?

Our group applies the philosophy of science to contemporary biological and biomedical research. We add value by removing conceptual and methodological roadblocks to the advancement of science and by using high-level biological theory, particularly an evolutionary perspective, to promote a more integrative approach to research questions.

What are the highlights and challenges of your role?

The highlight is the chance to work with brilliant young researchers, and the main challenge is keeping those brilliant minds supported so that they can continue to develop into tomorrow’s research leaders.

Tell us about the research or projects that you and your colleagues are working on at the moment.

Among the issues I currently work on are: how to measure the relative importance of genetic, epigenetic and environmental causes; to what extent the traditional concept of an organism, and therefore of health, needs to be revised; and how laypersons’ ideas about genetic causation affect the reception of genetic research.