Nutrition Metabolism Research

Nutrition Metabolism is a research theme from the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food

Our research into metabolism generates understanding of how foods and nutrients can influence molecular and physiological mechanisms to improve health and reduce disease.  Our research spans from understanding how to prevent gut injury during endurance exercise to improving cardiovascular health among shift workers.  Diseases and conditions are highly complex, and nutrition is integral to good health and disease prevention and recovery.

Our researchers studying metabolism are working to achieve:

  • better weight management strategies for teenagers and adults
  • better metabolic health across the lifespan
  • novel dietary strategies to improve biomarkers of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • better gut health for ultra-endurance athletes through optimal nutrition and hydration
  • reduction in inflammation through better food choices
  • improved fertility and pregnancy outcomes
  • novel bioinformatic analysis techniques to understand complex nutrient-metabolism interactions
  • maximisation of brain health and mitigation of age-associated cognitive decline.

Research studies

  • Exploring the link between dietary components (especially polyphenols) and carbohydrate / energy metabolism.
  • SWIFT study (investigating a novel weight loss regime in overweight shift workers).
  • Modifying timing of meal intake improve cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Investigating the association between selenium and chronic conditions such as dementia, depression and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Exploring the effects of nuts intake in health and diseases.


Professor Gary Williamson and his team are discovering how dietary bioactive compounds such as polyphenols can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, including both cellular mechanistic studies and human interventions. He has made major advances in understanding polyphenol bioavailability, and more recently has shown that certain polyphenols influence cellular energy metabolism and the appearance of glucose in the blood after a meal—important risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

A/Prof Maxine Bonham is a research academic and Registered Nutritionist. Her expertise is in the design and running of nutrition intervention trials that improve metabolic health with a focus on meal timing and circadian rhythmicity.

A/Prof Ricardo Costa is a sports dietitian and exercise physiologist researcher, practitioner, and educator with international recognition in the fields of exercise gastroenterology and extremes physiology. He has contributed to exploratory, methodological, and intervention research with translational relevance in the prevention and management of exercise-induced gastrointestinal syndrome and associated gastrointestinal symptoms, with special focus in ultra-endurance sport and exercise nutrition.

Dr Aimee Dordevic is a Registered Nutritionist using molecular biology techniques to study how nutrients, lifestyle and chronic disease states are linked through nutrigenomic interactions. She has a particular interest in the role of diet in metabolic stress and inflammation, with specific expertise in human postprandial trials.

Dr Nicole Kellow is an NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow, Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian (AdvAPD) and Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE) who investigates how dietary and lifestyle factors influence diabetes, metabolic disorders and fertility. She has a particular interest in clinical research involving dietary advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), pro and prebiotics and the gut microbiota.

Dr Tracy McCaffrey is a Registered Nutritionist whose research has evolved from dietary assessment and consumer understanding of portion size to health communication on social media. She has led the adaptation of Intake24 for Australia and provides specialist advice and analysis on suitable methods to assess dietary intake in research studies, including the CVD stream of the Hazelwood Health Study and shift workers.

Dr Barbara Cardoso’s research investigates the association between the nutrient selenium and different health outcomes, particularly dementia. This project involves the assessment of national-wide datasets and small cohorts, as well as intervention studies. Over the last few years, Dr Cardoso has played a leading role globally in the body of research describing the impact of selenium deficiency and treatment in Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, the research focuses on the effects of the consumption of nuts in metabolic outcomes, aiming to find a simple dietary strategy for health promotion.

Dr Elizabeth Barber is a Registered Nutritionist, using advanced molecular nutrition and food science research to explore the mechanisms by which functional foods improve metabolic dysfunction and inflammation. She has expertise in cell culture, analytical chemistry, molecular and serological assays, and food and recipe modifications for clinical studies.

Dr Kay Nguo is a lecturer and research dietitian with interest in nutrition strategies for the management of chronic diseases. She has particular interests in body composition, appetite and assessment of energy expenditure using gold standard techniques, with specific expertise in human clinical trials and postprandial studies.