Professor Mark A Febbraio, Head, Cellular and Molecular Metabolism Laboratory and Program Leader, Cell Signalling & Metabolism, Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute.
Obesity results in a state of chronic low grade inflammation, characterized by the elevation of pro-inflammatory cytokines in both the circulation and in metabolically active tissues. Work in our laboratory has focussed on the role of the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL)-6 and other IL-6-like cytokines that signal through the gp130 receptor complex. We have focussed on the role of blocking IL-6 trans-signaling to prevent inflammation on the one hand, and activating membrane bound signaling to promote insulin sensitivity on the other. Since the cloning of the IL-6, a pattern has emerged associating IL-6 to a number of diseases associated with inflammation including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Crohn’s disease and several cancers. Accordingly, tocilizumab, an IL-6 receptor-inhibiting monoclonal antibody is now useful for the treatment of RA. However, this may not be the most optimal strategy to block inflammation associated with IL-6 and may result in unwanted side effects that, paradoxically, could actually promote metabolic disease. This presentation with discuss the complex biology of IL-6/gp130 receptor signaling in the nexus between inflammation and metabolism in obesity and nutrient overload.
Professor Mark Febbraio is a Senior Principal Research Fellow of the NHMRC, is the head of the Cellular and Molecular Metabolism Laboratory and Program Leader of Cell Signalling & Metabolism at the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute. He is also the Chief Scientific Officer and on the Board of Directors of N-Gene Research Laboratories Inc., a USA based Biotechnology company. His research is focussed on understanding cellular and molecular mechanisms associated obesity and type 2 diabetes. He has authored over 180 peer reviewed papers in leading journals such as Nature, Nature Medicine, Cell, Cell Metabolism, The Journal of Clinical Investigation, PNAS and Diabetes. His work is extremely well cited (over 10,000 citations, H factor 62). He 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, Exercise Immunology Reviews and Journal of Applied Physiology. He is a member of seven National or International Professional bodies. He has served on The Council of The Australian Diabetes Society and is a past Honorary Treasurer of this Society (2006-2008). He has served on National Health and Medical Research Grant Review Panels for several years in the areas of Physiology, Cell Biology and Diabetes/Obesity. Professor Febbraio is also dedicated to health and fitness and continues to complete in running races and multi-sport events.