Our research - Charles Perkins Centre

Our research

World-leading research; world-changing insights

Our unique approach to diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease research is empowering individuals to lead healthier lives. Learn more about our research strategy and the current research taking place here.

Current research by theme

Research strategy

Solving problems, improving lives

Through a collaborative and multidisciplinary research strategy, we’re building a network of the best minds at Sydney and internationally to tackle obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and related conditions.

The Charles Perkins Centre was designed as a new model for addressing the burden of chronic disease based on principles from evolutionary biology and ecology. It brings together multidisciplinary teams spanning philosophers to clinicians in a complex adaptive research ecosystem, from which are emerging unexpected linkages and new solutions.

It’s never been more important to find real-world solutions to diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Where other research initiatives have approached these illnesses as medical conditions, concentrating solely on their biology, we recognise that these conditions involve more than biology alone.

We have brought together outstanding minds from within the University and beyond to improve our understanding of the impact of other factors on these conditions, including psychological makeup, education, cultural norms, economic pressures, the built environment, and the agricultural and food industries we depend on for food.

The centre pairs the University’s best minds in the medical sciences with experts from the arts and social sciences, architecture, business, education and social work, engineering and IT, and the physical, life and environmental sciences in a collaborative environment.

Our research and education hub provides new teaching and research spaces specially designed to encourage and support these collaborations.

We provide an environment in which new research collaborations and opportunities can emerge through a strategic focus on four key research domains.

Research domains define major disciplinary areas and provide the organisational framework to identify, nurture and grow capabilities within and across faculties and partner organisations to support the centre’s mission, objectives and outcomes. Broadly speaking, all research taking place at the Charles Perkins Centre falls into at least one research domain.  


Understanding the fundamental mechanisms of disease is essential for defining what might be possible by way of prevention, intervention and treatment.

Work in this domain spans fundamental genetic and epigenetic mechanisms, systems metabolism, organ and whole organismal physiology, and behaviour. We encourage project nodes to:

  • use model animal systems (including some that are non-traditional in biomedical research)
  • develop an appreciation of evolutionary and ecological principles.


This domain promotes the study and practice of epidemiology, population survey, genetic analysis, and cohort studies.

This domain supports themes and project nodes to adopt a research focus in these areas, and also encourages project nodes to contribute research outcomes to better develop knowledge in these areas.

Society and environment

This domain unites researchers and project nodes in the common research goal of understanding the societal and environmental influences on lifestyle diseases.  

Our research domain encourages the notion that all research findings need to be understood within the context of:

  • human psychology
  • historical precedents
  • social and cultural norms and imperatives
  • ethical frameworks
  • economic, legislative and political environments.

Research findings also need to be considered in the wider contexts of the food production chain and the built environment.  


The primary focus of this domain is the development of medical, educational and lifestyle interventions. Research outcomes from across the Charles Perkins Centre contribute to this focus.

Our task is to work out how best to implement change, both at the individual (micro-) and macro- (e.g. policy) scales, and to assess the effectiveness of such measures.

This program of work will require input and leadership from clinicians and other health practitioners, the arts and social sciences, psychologists, public health and policy experts and will engage industry, the community, governments and non-governmental organisations and the media.

We address all of these themes through a dynamic network of interlinking research project nodes. 

Project nodes are multidisciplinary initiatives that address identified major gaps in our understanding of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other related conditions, and their societal consequences. These project nodes provide a rich tapestry of linkages and collaborations, enabling an environment of genuine discovery. Each project node belongs to at least one domain and multiple themes.

Explore our project nodes.

Latest News