Molecular Endocrinology and Musculoskeletal Research Group

Research Overview

Our research focusses on understanding the physiological actions of hormones to regulate the musculoskeletal system and fat metabolism with a particular focus on the sex steroids and calcitonin. Our research uses the combination of physiology and novel cutting-edge genetically modified pre-clinical models to provide insight into the cellular and molecular pathways through which hormones act with the goal to identify new pathways for the treatment of the highly prevalent musculoskeletal and metabolic diseases, osteoporosis and obesity respectively. In addition, we are investigating the effects of gender affirming hormone therapy administered during puberty and in adulthood on bone cell metabolism, structure and strength which has important implications for maintaining the bone health of transgender people.

Our laboratory uses a range of techniques including microcomputed tomography (microCT), bone histomorphometry, histology and immunohistochemistry, in addition to a wide range of biochemical and molecular analyses. Our laboratory is responsible for management of a state-of-the-art high resolution 1272 Bruker micro-CT scanner, which is available for use by Austin Health, The University of Melbourne and external users.

Current Projects:

  1. Determining the mechanism by which the male sex hormone, testosterone, acts to decrease fat mass.
  2. Investigating the effects of gender affirming hormone therapy administered during uberty and adulthood on bone metabolism, microstructure and strength.
  3. Determining the contribution of the aromatisation of testosterone to estradiol within bone for maintaining skeletal integrity and bone strength.
  4. Characterising the physiological role of the calcitonin receptor in bone and calcium homeostasis.

Read more about Rachel's work below:

  1. 'Hormones and Bones', A/Prof Rachel Davey discusses her research into metabolic bone diseases which has a focus on the physiological role of hormones to increase new bone growth.
  2. 'Hope for older men', A/Prof Rachel Davey presents her research into discovering a new pathway tor reduce weight gain in men with low testosterone levels.

Staff

Collaborators

  • Professor Jeffrey Zajac
  • Professor Mathis Grossmann
  • Associate Professor Kathryn Stok, Dept of Biomedical Engineering, University of Melbourne.
  • Professor David Handlesman and Dr Reena Desai, ANZAC Research Institute, NSW.
  • Professor David Findlay, Dept of Orthopaedics and Trauma, University of Adelaide, SA, Australia
  • Professor Dirk Vanderschueren, Leuven Catholic University, Belgium
  • Professor Jack Jhamandas, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Dr Svetlana Reilly, University of Oxford, UK
  • Professor Merry-Jo Oursler, Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, USA
  • Professor Kristine Wiren, Oregon Health and Sciences University, Oregon, USA
  • Dr Ajith Vasanthakumar and Dr Axel Kallies, Peter Doherty Institute, Vic, Australia

Funding

  • Ian Potter Foundation
  • Sir Edward Dunlop Medical Research Foundation
  • Austin Health Medical Research Foundation
  • The Les and Eva Erdi Humanitarian Charitable Foundation
  • H.T. Pamphilon Fund

Research Publications

Selected Publications