Our researchers

Professor Grant Morahan
Director at WA's Centre for Diabetes Research

Professor Grant Morahan is one of Australia’s leading genetic scientists and the head of Western Australia’s Centre for Diabetes Research established by us in 2004.

Grant's research focus includes:

  • the genetics of complex diseases including type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes
  • diabetes complications
  • bioinformatics
  • systems genetics, and
  • gene-diet interactions.

Diabetes Research WA assisted in re-locating Grant and his family to Perth in 2005 where he quickly established WA's Centre for Diabetes Research now housed at The Perkins Institute. This has enabled a further $15m in research funding to the Centre helping uncover the mysteries surrounding diabetes and its complications. 

You can read more on Grant's research here

Associate Researcher Lakshini Herat
UWA School of Biomedical Sciences in Western Australia

Lakshini is a researcher at The University of Western Australia School of Biomedical Sciences and the Dobney Hypertension Centre in Perth. She completed her PhD in 2019, partly funded to top-up her Australian Post Graduate Award, from the Inaugural Alex Cohen Scholarship established in 2010 by DRWA.

She was awarded the Women in Technology WA People's Choice Award in 2019.

Her research is based on understanding the development of eye disease (diabetic retinopathy) in people living with diabetes.

Lakshini and her team were awarded a $60,000 research project grant in November 2019 to investigate if a new class of drugs (SGLT2 inhibitors) can be used to prevent blindness not only in diabetic retinopathy but additionally in other causes of blindness.

You can read more on Lakshini's research here

Associate Professor Julia Marley
Principal Research Fellow - Rural Clinical School of Western Australia

Julia's research at the Rural Clinical School focuses on health-relevant to rural and remote living and includes health issues affecting Aboriginal people. Her work is undertaken at the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services in Broome in conjunction with other sites around Western Australia including Bunbury.

Julia and her team received a Diabetes Research WA Research Project Grant in 2019 for her project - 'Validation of algorithms for screening and detection of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy in rural and remote Australia'. This work aims to ensure all rural and remote women are screened for high glucose in pregnancy and those at risk receive appropriate antenatal care to help keep mothers and their babies healthy with a safe delivery.

Assistant Professor Vance Mathews
Research Fellow School of Medicine and Pharmacology, The University of Western Australia.

Vance's research goals are to identify novel molecular and cellular mechanisms which regulate obesity and insulin resistance. This work will potentially lead to therapeutic strategies to treat obesity-induced insulin resistance in humans. This could result in significant benefits to Western Australian and Australian citizens who are plagued with the metabolic syndrome. Vance has a strong track record in the fields of cytokine biology and metabolic disorders.

Vance and his team have received 3 Diabetes Research Project grants:

  • 2013 - $75,000 grant to investigate a protein (TNFSF14) and its role in obesity and type 2 diabetes
  • 2016 - $80,000 grant to investigate the role of the sympathetic nervous system and type 2 diabetes
  • 2018 - $60,000 extension grant for the 2013 grant to progress research into TNFSF14 derived molecules as a novel treatment for obesity and type 2 diabetes

The group’s work has discovered that a lack of TNFSF14 can exacerbate chronic liver injury, inflammation and dysregulation of mitochondrial function in the liver. You can read about this here

A record of his research is available here

Dr Aveni Haynes
Research Fellow at The Telethon Kids Institute in Western Australia

Aveni is a medical doctor specialising in endocrinology and type 1 diabetes. Her focus is to investigate the development of diseases in children such as type 1 diabetes and possible ways to delay or prevent this in families at risk. Her current research includes working with the ENDIA study to determine environmental factors contributing to the development of diabetes.

In 2018 Aveni and her team were awarded a $60,000 DRWA Project Grant to trial the use of continuous glucose measuring in children at risk (risk means to have siblings or parents with type 1 diabetes and specific antibodies) of developing type 1 diabetes and to map changes in blood glucose levels to find ways to prevent or delay it. The aim is to prevent the serious sudden onset of type 1 diabetes known as ketoacidosis, which can be life-threatening. You can listen to Aveni discuss the project on our YouTube channel.

You can also read more on Aveni's other research projects here.

Kevin Pfleger 1.jpg
Professor Kevin Pfleger
Head of Molecular Endocrinology and Pharmacology at The Harry Perkins Institute in WA

Kevin is a distinguished researcher receiving many awards for his outstanding research and contributions. In fact there a far too many to list here. You can read more on Kevin here.

His research with us has primarily been on looking into new ways to target a molecule involved in cell damage which leads to diabetes complications and in 2018 his team was awarded a $60,000 DRWA Project Grant towards this significant research. It could lead to new treatments in preventing diabetes complications.

You can listen to Kevin discuss his research on our YouTube channel.

Dr Aron Chakera
Head of the Translational Renal Research; Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research

Dr Aron Chakera is a renal physician at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, with an interest in immune function as it relates to transplantation, autoimmune diseases, and peritoneal mesothelial cells.

Dr Chakera received a $75,000 research grant for a project to investigate if early intervention can help slash the number of kidney transplant patients who develop type 2 diabetes.

Dr Shelley Gorman
Researcher at the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth WA

Shelley Gorman is a Senior Research Fellow based at the Telethon Kids Institute with expertise in the effects of sun exposure and vitamin D on health. She investigates the mechanisms by which ultraviolet radiation modulates metabolic dysfunction, inflammation, and immunity. Her expertise lies in establishing physiologically relevant animal disease models. 

Shelley was awarded a $75,000 in 2015 to explore the role of brown adipose tissue in the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes in children.


to advance research
to help find a cure
to raise awareness