Articles, Blog

The Charles Perkins Centre: easing the burden of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease

November 25, 2019

My name is Professor Stephen Simpson and I
lead the Charles Perkins Centre. A multidisciplinary research and education
initiative based here at the University of Sydney in Australia. In this visionary initiative, we’ve brought
together more than a thousand researchers, educators and practitioners from a wide range
of disciplines together with a single aim: to ease the burden of chronic disease by generating
collaborative research and education that translates into real-world solutions. My work really focuses on the topic of healthy
eating. I’m interested in looking at how nutrition
plays a role in slowing down the aging process and delaying the onset of age-related diseases
like Type 2 Diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and dementia. I’m here working with a team of researchers
that are focused on mobile health and fitness apps and trying to understand who are the
commercial players behind the scenes. Where is the money and particularly people’s
personal data travelling, and we want to understand how these commercial actors are shaping public
health, health outcomes and the policy environment. I study neuroscience and I look at how the
brain controls behaviour and how genes influence behaviour. We’ve been using fruit flies and genetics
to understand how the nervous system works and we’ve identified hundreds of genes that
control many different processes from neurodegeneration to chronic pain to lifespan and cognition
and so lots of these genes that we’re finding here will be the beginning of future medicines. I run the evidence, influence and policy collaborative
research group here at the Charles Perkins Centre. What we’ve achieved by being at the CPC
is we’ve really expanded our research networks for example I now collaborate with people
in philosophy, people in nutrition, people in systems, science, network analysis. Coming to the Charles Perkins Centre, it’s
such a rich place to see all these different types of science at work. We really take a broad, broad approach to
tackling these health issues. A lot of what we’re tackling, obesity, nutrition
problems, diabetes, they’re not just a problem for people in higher income countries like
Australia, they’re really global problems and so that’s what makes me excited because
I think we’re going to need big, big efforts to tackle these.

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