Endocrinology Research

Research Overview

Professor Zajac's research focuses on these key themes:

Molecular endocrinology of the androgen receptor (AR)

The molecular target of the male hormones, testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. Investigations over nearly 30 years have contributed to knowledge of:

  1. The structure of the AR
  2. Functional analysis of AR
  3. Diseases involving mutations in the AR (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, Kennedy’s disease spinal and muscular bulbar atrophy - a type of motor neurone disease)
  4. Triplet CAG repeats of the AR, Kennedy’s disease, prostate cancer
  5. The role of the AR in bone, fat, CNS and muscle
  6. The non genomic actions of the AR

Structure of the calcitonin receptor, the molecular target for calcitonin, a hormone regulating bone and calcium homeostasis

  1. The role of calcitonin in the regulation of bone formation and resorption.
  2. The role of calcitonin in protecting the skeleton in times of calcium stress
  3. Early studies during the discovery of PTHrP

Reproductive Steroids

  1. The effect of Androgen deprivation therapy ADT in patients with prostate cancer on muscle, fat, bone, cardiometabolic risk and symptoms. Evidence based therapy for the treatment of the side effects of ADT.
  2. The effects of testosterone treatment in men with lowered testosterone
  3. The effect of oestrogen deprivation in breast cancer patients on aromatase inhibitors.
    Evidence based therapy for the treatment of the side effects of oestrogen deprivation in
    breast cancer

Clinical Diabetes

Dr Ekinci and Prof Zajac established the Diabetes Discovery Initiative in 2013. This collaboration, using CERNER has led to rapid identification and management of sick inpatients with diabetes. As part of routine clinical care, a HbA1c test is ordered automatically in all inpatients over the age of 54 who are admitted to Austin Health. A daily automated HbA1c report is obtained by the diabetes registrar and patients whose HbA1c is greater than 8.3% are automatically reviewed by the diabetes registrar to optimise their diabetes management.

Clinical Quality Improvement - Projects with research outcomes

  1. Establishment of Men’s Health Clinic
  2. Establishment of Endocrine Breast Cancer clinic
  3. Diabetes Discovery Project: Identification of all inpatients 54 years and older with diabetes admitted to Austin Health.
  4. Fracture capture project: identifying all fragility fractures in inpatients and outpatients at Austin Health in order to facilitate treatment to prevent further fractures and improve outcomes

Collaborators

Genetically modified mice generated in the Zajac laboratories have been sent to multiple collaborators both national and international including:  

  • D Handelsman, Sydney, Australia
  • A English, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia USA
  • G Karsenty, Columbia University, New York, New York USA
  • Axel and Ajith Vasanthakumar, WEHI, Melbourne, Australia
    Jack Jhamandas, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Funding

  • Continuous uninterrupted NHMRC funding since 1988
  • Eva and Les Erdi Major Research Grants
  • Austin Medical Research Foundation
  • Sir Edward Dunlop Medical Research Foundation
  • Potter Foundation

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Projects




Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Professor Jeffrey Zajac

Department / Centre

Medicine and Radiology