Prof Mark Febbraio

Division Head - Diabetes and Metabolism, Lab Head - Cellular and Molecular Metabolism

Prof Mark Febbraio is a Senior Principal Research Fellow of the NHMRC, is the Head of the Cellular and Molecular Metabolism Laboratory and Head of the Diabetes and Metabolism Division at the Garvan Institute for Medical Research. He is also the Chief Scientific Officer of N-Gene Research Laboratories Inc, a USA based Biotechnology Company.

His research is focused on understanding cellular and molecular mechanisms associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes, and his aim is to develop novel drugs to treat metabolic disease. He has authored over 200 peer reviewed papers in leading journals and has over 12,000 career citations.

Mark has won prizes at international, national and institutional levels, including the A K McIntyre Prize for significant contributions to Australian Physiological Science (1999), the Colin I Johnson Lectureship by the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia (2006) the ESA/ADS Joint Plenary Lecture (2009) and the Sandford Skinner Oration (2011).

He is on the Editorial Board of Diabetes, The American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology & Metabolism, and the Journal of Applied Physiology.  He has also been a Councillor and Treasurer of the Australian Diabetes Society.

Mark is also dedicated to health and fitness. He was a full time triathlete before embarking on his scientific career, and continues to compete in running races and multi-sport events.  Mark co-hosts the radio program “The Science of Sport” on the SEN radio network in Melbourne, Australia.

Research Interests

• Obesity and insulin resistance
• Cytokine signalling
• Inflammation
• Exercise Metabolism

Awards and Honours

2013 - Finalist, Eureka Prize for Scientific Excellence
2013 - Bosch Distinguished Lecture, University of Sydney
2012 - NHMRC “Ten of The Best” Research Grants
2011 - Faculty Member Leadership Victoria: Williamson Community Leadership Program
2011 - The Sandford Skinner Oration Lecture, University of Melbourne
2011 - Barbara Ell Lecturer, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute
2009 - Endocrine Society Australia/Australian Diabetes Society Joint Plenary Lecturer
2006 - Colin I Johnson Keynote Lecture, High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia
2000 - New Investigator Award, International Biochemistry of Exercise Conference, USA
1999 - A K McIntyre Medal, Australian Physiological Society


1994 - PhD, Victoria University of Technology, Victoria - Australia
1987 - BASc (Physical Education), Victoria University of Technology, Victoria - Australia

Selected Publications

Lee-Young RS, Hoffman N, Murphy KT, Henstridge DC, Iliades P, Zivanovic B, Hong YH, Colgan T, Kraakman MJ, Bruce CR, Gregorevic P, Kingwell BA, McConell GK, Wadley GD, Lynch GS, Drummond GR, Febbraio MA. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase activity contributes to the regulation of glucose uptake in skeletal muscle. Mol Metab. 5: 1083-1091, 2016.

Whitham M, Febbraio MA. The ever expanding myokinome: discovery challenges and therapeutic implications. Nature Rev. Drug Discov. 15: 719-729, 2016.

Lancaster GI, Kammoun KL, Kraakman MJ, Kowalski GM, Bruce CR, Febbraio MA. PKR is not obligatory for high fat diet-induced obesity and its associated metabolic and inflammatory complications. Nature Comm. DOI: 7: 10626  doi:10.1038/ncomms10626, 2016.  Accompanied by Research Highlight: Greenhill C. PKR is not involved in metabolic diseases. Nature Rev Endo doi:10.1038/mrendo. 2016.

Murphy AJ, Kraakman MJ, Lawlor KE, Wentworth JM, Vasanthakumar A, Gerlic M, DiRago L, Cengia L, Metcalf D, Roberts AW, Vince JE, Harrison LC, Kallies A, Kile BT, Croker BA, Febbraio MA, Masters SL. IL-18 production from the NLRP1 inflammasome prevents obesity and metabolic syndrome. Cell Metab. 23: 155-164, 2016 Accompanied by Research Highlight: Netea MG, Joosten LAB. The NLRP1-IL-18 Connection: A stab in the back of obesity-induced inflammation. Cell Metab. 23: 6-7, 2016.

Selathurai A, Burch ML, Kowalski GM, Sepulveda P, Risis S, Lee-Young RS, Meikle PJ, Genders AJ, McGee SL, Watt MJ, Russell AP, Frank M, Jackowski S, Febbraio MA, Bruce CR.  Elimination of the CDP-ethanolamine pathway in skeletal muscle has pronounced effects on lipid homeostasis and mitochondrial oxidative capacity without altering insulin sensitivity.  Cell Metab. 21: 718-730, 2015.

Børsting Jordy A, Kraakman MJ, Gardner T, Estevez E, Kammoun HL, Weir JM, Kiens B, Meikle PJ, Febbraio MA, Henstridge DC.  Analysis of the liver lipidome reveals insights into the protective effect of exercise on high fat diet induced hepatosteatosis in mice.  Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 308: E778-E791, 2015.

Kraakman MJ, Kammoun HL, Allen TL, Deswaerte V, Henstridge DC, Estevez E, Matthews VB, Neill B, White DA, Murphy AJ, Peijs L, Yang C, Rises S, Bruce CR, Du X-J, Bobik A, Lee-Young RS, Kingwell BA, Vasanthakumar A, Shi W, Kallies A, Lancaster GI, Rose-John S, & Febbraio MA. Blocking IL-6 trans-signaling prevents high fat diet-induced adipose tissue macrophage recruitment but does not improve insulin resistance. Cell Metab. 21:403-416, 2015.

Sapra G, Tham YK, Cemerlang N, Matsumoto A, Kiriazis H, Bernardo BC, Henstridge DC, Ooi JYY, Pretorius L, Boey EJH, Lim L, Sadoshima J, Meikle PJ, Mellet NA, Woodcock EA, Marasco S, Ueyama T, Dy X-J, Febbraio MA*, & McMullen JR*. The small molecule, BGP-15, protects against heart failure and atrial fibrillation in mice. Nature Comm. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6705, 2014 . *MAF and JRM are joint corresponding authors. Accompanied by Research Highlight: Crunkthorn S. Insulin sensitizer protects the heart. Nature Rev Drug Disc. 14 (2): 93, 2014.

Henstridge DC, Bruce CR, Tory K, Kolonics A, Drew BG, Chung J, Watson N, Estevez E, Gardner T, Lee-Young RS, Connor T, Watt MJ, Hargreaves M, McGee SL, Hevener AL, & Febbraio MA. Activating HSP72 in rodent skeletal muscle increases mitochondrial number and oxidative capacity and decreases insulin resistance. Diabetes 63: 1881-1894, 2014.

Mauer J, Chaurasia B, Goldau J, Vogt MC, Schmitz J, Ruud J, Nguyen KD, Theuric S, Hausen C, Bronneke HS, Estevez, E, Allen TL, Febbraio MA, Chawla A, Wunderlich FT, & Breuning JC. IL-6 signaling in myeloid cells promotes alternative macrophage activation to limit obesity-associated insulin resistance. Nature Immunol. 15: 423-430, 2014. Accompanied by Research Highlights: Reilly SM, Saltiel AR. Countering inflammatory signals in obesity. Nature Immunol. 15: 410-411, 2014; Covarrabias AJ, Horng T. IL-6 strikes a balance in metabolic inflammation. Cell Metab. 19: 898-899, 2014;  Bordon Y. Immunometabolism: IL-6 the resistance fighter. Nature Rev Immunol. 14: 282-283, 2014.

Lindegaard B, Matthews VB, Brandt C, Hojman P, Allen TL, Estevez E, Watt MJ, Bruce CR, Mortensen O, Syberg S, Rudnicka C, Abildgaard J, Pilegaard H, Hidalgo J, Ditlevsen S, Algreen T, Madsen AN, Pedersen BK, & Febbraio MA. Interleukin-18 activates skeletal muscle AMPK and reduces weight gain and insulin resistance in mice. Diabetes 62: 3064-3074, 2013.

Bruce CR, Risis S, Babb JR, Yang C, Kowalski GM, Selathurai A, Lee-Young RS, Wier JM, Yoshioka K, Takuwa Y, Meikle PJ, Pitson SM, & Febbraio MA. Overexpression of sphingosine kinase 1 prevents ceramide accumulation and ameliorates muscle insulin resistance in high fat fed mice. Diabetes 61: 3148-3155, 2012. Accompanied by Research Highlight: Gorski J. Ceramide and insulin resistance: how should the issue be approached? Diabetes 61: 3081-3083, 2012.

Pedersen BK, & Febbraio MA. Muscle, exercise and obesity: skeletal muscle as a secretory organ. Nature Rev Endocrinol. 8: 457-465, 2012.

Gehrig S, van der Poel C, Sayer TA, Schertzer JD, Henstridge DC, Church JE, Lamon S, Russell AP, Davies KE, Febbraio MA, & Lynch GS. HSP72 preserves muscle function and slows progression of severe muscular dystrophy. Nature 484: 384-398, 2012. Accompanied by Research Highlight: Tse, MT. Neuromuscular disorders: Turning up the heat (shock) Nature Rev Drug Disc. 11 (5): 354, 2012.

Nicholls HT, Kowalski G, Risis S, Zaffino LA, Watson N, Kanellakis P, Watt MJ, Bobik A, Bonen A, Febbraio M, Lancaster GI, & Febbraio MA. Haematopoietic cell restricted deletion of CD36 reduces high fat diet-induced macrophage infiltration and insulin resistance in adipose tissue. Diabetes 60:1100-1110, 2011.

Pedersen BK, & Febbraio MA. Muscle as an endocrine organ – focus on muscle-derived IL-6. Physiol. Rev. 88: 1379-1406, 2008.

Chung J, Nguyen A-K, Henstridge DC, Holmes AG, Chan MHS, Mesa JL, Lancaster GI, Southgate RJ, Bruce CR, Duffy S, Vigh L, Horvath I, Mestril R, Watt MJ, Hooper PD, Kingwell BA, Hevener A, & Febbraio MA. HSP72 protects against obesity-induced insulin resistance. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105: 1739-1744, 2008. Accompanied by Research Highlight: Stevens, K. Melting away. Nature Med. 14, 123, 2008.

Febbraio MA. gp130 receptor ligands: potential therapeutic targets in obesity J. Clin Invest. 117:  841-849, 2007.

Carey AL, Steinberg GR, Macaulay SL, Thomas WJ, Holmes AG, Ramm G, Prelovsek O, Hohnen-Behrens C, Watt MJ, James DE, Kemp BE, Petersen BK, & Febbraio MA. Interleukin-6 increases insulin-stimulated glucose disposal in humans and glucose uptake and fatty acid oxidation in vitro via AMP-activated protein kinase. Diabetes 55: 2688-2697, 2006.

Watt MJ, Dzamko N, Thomas W, Rose-John S, Ernst M, Carling D, Kemp BE,  Febbraio MA. CNTF reverses obesity-induced insulin resistance by activating skeletal muscle AMPK. Nature Med 12: 541-548, 2006. Accompanied by Research Highlight: Ahima RS. Overcoming insulin resistance with CNTF Nature Med. 12, 511-512, 2006.

Febbraio MA., Hiscock N, Sacchetti M, Fischer CP, & Pedersen BK. Interleukin-6 is a novel factor mediating glucose homeostasis in skeletal muscle contraction. Diabetes 53: 1643-1648, 2004.

Prof Mark Febbraio