Video was shot while Dr Piper was based at UCL.

Organisms are faced with the complex problem of matching their changing nutrient requirements to a variable nutrient supply. To combat this problem, animals have acquired numerous foraging behaviours, food sensing mechanisms and nutrient feed backs. Monash is  interested in what they are, how they work and how imbalanced diets affect reproduction and health, especially late in life.

Interestingly, many of the molecular pathways for nutrient signalling are conserved between flies, mice and humans. By studying fruit flies in the lab, we aim to understand more about nutrient related behaviours and health in humans.

Food quantity and nutrient quality affect the behaviour, health and lifespan of all organisms and as apart of the research use the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to investigate the molecular mechanisms that mediate these effects, with the goal of understanding these processes in humans.

Due to recent discoveries, the research focuses on the role of dietary protein in shaping appetite, continuing health and length of life. A major focus of our work is on dietary restriction (DR or calorie restriction), which is an evolutionarily conserved intervention that extends healthy lifespan. Research has been conducted on how the relative proportion of protein in an organism’s diet modifies the effect of dietary restriction. Knowledge of these interactions will aid our understanding of the role of nutrient balance in adult health, appetite and longevity.

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Dr Matt Piper