President - Brian Oldfield

Brian has been an NHMRC Research Fellow since 1985 and a Principal Research Fellow, 2001-2018. He has held a professorial appointment in the Department of Physiology, MonashUniversitysince2005and is an adjunct Senior Principal Research Fellow at the Charles Perkins Centre, Sydney. He has long standing interests that extend beyond his scientific focus and involve attempts to better inform other researchers and the general community about the biology of overweight and weight loss and, as such, has hoped to help to reduce the stigma that is often directed toward those with obesity.

 

Brian heads a research group that has wide ranging interests that centre around the way the brain controls food intake and energy expenditure to determine body weight. There are currently 3 major themes to his research 1) the role, in body weight control, of a specialized form of “fat” called Brown Adipose Tissue that is unique in that it burns energy instead of storing it 2) the mechanisms underlying the efficacy of bariatric surgery as elucidated using rodent models and 3) the neurobiology of anorexia nervosa, again studied through the use of a rodent model, that allows interrogation of the brain pathways involved.

 

These projects are not isolated and have many areas of overlap. Brown Adipose Tissue is turned on by either cold or diet where, in the first instance, the burning of energy produces heat to warm the body and in the second, which is more important in body weight control, burns excess calories after a meal in an attempt to prevent weight gain. Bariatric surgery, contrary to outdated views of restriction and malabsorption that were thought to be the basis of their success, are now known to involve complex brain interactions. His team has contributed to these understandings, most recently highlighting a role for Brown Adipose Tissue which facilitates the weight lost post-surgery.  Their recent work on the rodent equivalent of anorexia nervosa has shown the importance of reward pathways in the brain and ways to potentially reverse the trend toward dramatic weight loss.  

 

Brian’s group has been successful in securing peer reviewed funding from the NHMRC and ARC and has been continuously funded by the NHMRC since his initial appointment in 1985. He has received 8 category 1 grants in the last 5 years