Charles Perkins Centre Building

The Boden Initiative

Advancing research, clinical care, public health and policy development in obesity and metabolic health
The Boden Initiative at the Charles Perkins Centre is committed to action on obesity and metabolic health through research, teaching and training, clinical care, prevention and public health and economic policy change across the whole lifespan, from pre-natal to old age.

About us

The Boden Initiative is the result of the foresight and generosity of Dr Alexander Boden AO, scientist, philanthropist and a University of Sydney graduate. Now part of the multidisciplinary Charles Perkins Centre, members of the Boden Initiative come from the Faculty of Medicine and Health and the Faculty of Science.

The Boden Initiative is taking a leading role in the battle to control the global epidemic of obesity and related metabolic conditions. 


Clinical trials

Evaluating treatments and interventions for obesity and related metabolic problems, especially diabetes

If you need help losing weight, preventing or managing Type 2 Diabetes, you may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial at the University.

Our people and research

The Boden Initiative is led by Professor Louise Baur, who heads a team of internationally and nationally renowned experts.

Our researchers have expertise across the whole human lifecycle from pre-natal to old age, and collectively have the broadest approach and skills for combating, preventing and treating obesity and related metabolic conditions.

The Child and Adolescent Obesity Research Group are based primarily at Children’s Hospital Westmead Clinical School. The group undertakes studies investigating the management of child and adolescent obesity and related health issues, and the provision of health services for young people affected by obesity. The group leads the Eating Disorders in weight-related Therapy (EDIT) Collaboration, bringing together data from multiple international studies to identify what elements of obesity treatment work best for which people, while also decreasing the risk of disordered eating and other mental health concerns.




The group focuses on clinical trials to improve care for those with obesity. The trials range from nutritional and activity interventions, through to the use of pharmacotherapy, complementary medicines and meal replacements as examples.

This is complemented by studies in chronic care with the development and trial of better health and care systems for both chronic disease prevention and treatment.

Research also includes pre-clinical to clinical models to investigate behavioural and pharmacological treatments for obesity and diabetes.


  • Professor Ian Caterson, Foundation Director, the Boden Collaboration; Boden Professor of Human Nutrition, School of Life and Environmental Sciences; Deputy Clinical Stream Director Aged Care & Rehabilitation/Ambulatory and Chronic Care, Endocrinology, Andrology, General Medicine and General Practice, Sydney Local Health District


  • Dr Nick Fuller, Industry Program Leader
  • Associate Professor Tania Markovic, Clinical Associate Professor, Sydney Medical School; Boden Collaboration; Director, Metabolism & Obesity Service (SLHD)
  • Dr Kyra Sim, Manager, Childhood Obesity Prevention and Management, Dietitian (SLHD)
  • Dr Arianne Sweeting, NHMRC Early Career Fellow; Staff Specialist, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
  • Associate Professor Samantha Hocking, Diabetes NSW & ACT; Deputy Head, Metabolism & Obesity Service (SLHD); President, National Association of Clinical Obesity Services.

This group focuses on translation and implementation solutions and generating new knowledge to improve diabetes prevention and care. Current focus areas include:

  • Remission of type 2 diabetes
  • Large data linkage projects 
  • Models of care with primary care
  • Guideline development
  • Global projects through the WHO collaborating centre 


  • Professor Stephen Colagiuri, Professor of Metabolic Health; Lead, Solutions Domain, Charles Perkins Centre; Co-Director, WHO Collaborating Centre on Physical Activity, Nutrition & Obesity


  • Associate Professor Samantha Hocking, Diabetes NSW & ACT; Deputy Head, Metabolism & Obesity Service (SLHD); President of the National Association of Clinical Obesity Services
  • Associate Professor Tania Markovic, Clinical Associate Professor, Sydney Medical School; Boden Collaboration; Director, Metabolism & Obesity Service (SLHD)
  • Dr Crystal Lee, Honorary Research Fellow, Biostatistician


The nutrition group examines the many important roles that food and nutrition play in reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases at an individual and population level. The group has a number of specific themes around this issue that build on each other to better inform practice and policy on nutrition issues.


Professor Michael Skilton


Nutrition and cardiometabolic disease theme

The Nutrition and cardiometabolic disease theme advances the nutrition science underpinning the development and prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The theme develops and tests novel nutritional strategies that target underlying mechanisms in high-risk groups, with a particular focus on life course translation within an environmentally sustainable model. 


Professor Michael Skilton, Professor of Nutrition and Cardiometabolic Health and Maurice Blackmore Principal Research Fellow in Integrative Medicine, Central Clinical School

Current research projects include:

  • identification of people at risk of NCDs in adulthood based on their early life exposures (Developmental Origins of Health and Disease; DOHaD), particularly nutritional exposures
  • identification of mechanisms through which these exposures affect long term risk of NCDs
  • develop and trial nutrition strategies to improve cardiometabolic risk profile, and subsequently prevent cardiovascular events and type 2 diabetes in people using a precision medicine approach
  • development and refinement of age-appropriate methodologies for assessing cardiometabolic health and risk of NCDs to inform and facilitate the above work.

Public health nutrition theme

This theme focuses on public health and policy actions to address nutrition, obesity, and chronic disease in the whole community with a focus on the impact of the current food and nutrition environment and consumer understandings and expectations of the food they eat.


Professor Timothy Gill, Professor of Public Health Nutrition

Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery and Charles Perkins Centre

Current research projects include:

  • changing dietary patterns and risk of obesity
  • consumer understanding and preferences of nutrition guidance
  • community understanding and support for structural and regulatory changes to improve the current nutrition environment
  • how to better tailor advice at a group and individual level on behaviour change to manage weight
  • gender difference in response to dietary interventions in weight management.

Clinical nutrition theme

This theme examines the role of macronutrient composition of the diet on the risk of non-communicable disease with a specific focus on the metabolic response to different forms of carbohydrates.


Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, Professor of Human Nutrition

School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, and Charles Perkins Centre

Current research projects include:

  • dietary intervention to prevent the progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes
  • the most appropriate diet composition of pregnant women to reduce obesity in children
  • examining how different forms of the AMY gene affect the rate at which people digest starch
  • the role of glycaemic index and other aspects of carbohydrate metabolism influence the development and management of obesity.

The Health economics research group advances the quality and meaningfulness of implementation and economic evaluations for translating research into policy and practice to, ultimately, improve the wellbeing and quality of life of patients and their families.

This group focuses on evaluating the costs, health outcomes, cost-effectiveness, and equity considerations associated with health interventions for the prevention and treatment of chronic conditions, including cardiometabolic health and related conditions such as mental illness and chronic pain.

Research interests span a range of specialty areas in health economics:

  • assessing impact of demographic and socioeconomic factors on health care utilisation and costs, health outcomes (life years, quality of life, severity of illness and co-occurring conditions), and degree of inequality in health and access to health care using large linked data
  • quantifying the indirect costs of chronic conditions through lost labour productivity to individuals, government and society using microsimulation models
  • developing and applying online personalised decision support tools for making complex health decisions (integrating individual preferences)
  • conducting within-trial and modelled (Markov models) economic evaluations of health interventions for the prevention and treatment of chronic conditions
  • assessing the impact of large-scale health/public policies using a range of analytical approaches, such as interrupted time-series analysis, duration analysis, and panel data analysis.


  • Dr Michelle Cunich, Senior Research Fellow in Health Economics, Charles Perkins Centre, Faculty of Medicine and Health; and Sydney Health Economics Collaborative, Sydney Local Health District.

Recent projects and clinical trials

  • Specialist consultative input into obesity and diabetes prevention, as well as management research and practice
  • Directing worldwide, large-scale innovative studies and translational projects in obesity and diabetes prevention
  • Improving the evidence base for choice of different obesity treatments
  • Analysing the cost-effectiveness of GP referral to commercial weight loss programs
  • Assessing the cost-effectiveness of health/policy interventions for the prevention and treatment of chronic conditions (such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, dementia, pain and severe mental illness) using clinical trial data, Markov models and big data analysis  
  • Pioneering novel methodologies, such as the use of comprehensive phenotyping techniques in life course cardiovascular health studies in infants and children
  • Determining the optimal dietary management of people with gestational diabetes
  • PREVIEW Study – assessing the optimal diet and exercise intensity for maintaining weight loss in people at risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Establishing the lack of adverse cardiometabolic effects with the inclusion of eggs in the diet of people with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes
  • Contribution to development of international guidelines for the management of people with Prader Willi Syndrome
  • Development of online programs for intensive interventions (including very low energy diets) for the management of people with severe obesity
  • Environmentally sustainable foods and maintaining nutritional adequacy during pregnancy
  • Translation of evidence-based packages for eating disorders into online therapy programs made widely available to those not receiving services
  • Assessing the value of oxytocin in the treatment of clinical eating disorders



Professor Louise Baur
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