Molecular Nutrition

Associate Professor David Frazer is passionate about improving the health of people with iron-related conditions such as iron deficiency and the iron loading disorder hereditary haemochromatosis, both of which affect a surprisingly high number of Australians. In fact, iron-related disorders represent some of the most common conditions affecting humans worldwide. In the Molecular Nutrition Laboratory, we are working hard to understand the molecular basis of these disorders and to use this knowledge to develop better treatments for affected individuals.


  • explore the underlying mechanisms of dietary iron absorption in breastfed infants and how they are influenced by weaning and complementary feeding. We are also investigating placental iron transport and how iron supplements can influence placental function.
  • aim to uncover the molecular pathways involved in hepcidin regulation and develop ways to manipulate these pathways to treat disorders of iron homeostasis
  • investigating several novel iron supplements that have the potential to be just as effective as current supplements, but with fewer side effects
  • investigating whether conditions such as obesity, type II diabetes, osteoporosis and immune dysfunction can be treated by specifically altering the level of iron in target tissues
  • conducting a clinical trial to determine whether iron supplementation can alleviate some of the symptoms in patients suffering from Tourette Syndrome
  • investigating the role of iron in cardiac function and development
  • Dr Sheridan Helman, Research Officer
  • Page Whibley, Masters student
  • Professor Greg Anderson, Iron Metabolism Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer
  • Professor David Reid, Lung Inflammation and Infection Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer
  • Professor James Scott, Child and Youth Mental Health Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer
  • Associate Professor James Hudson, Cardiac Bioengineering, QIMR Berghofer
  • Dr Elise Pelzer, Queensland University of Technology
  • Professor Yan Xiao, Queensland University of Technology
  • Dr David Simmons, University of Queensland
  • Dr James Cuffe, University of Queensland
  • Professor Jonathan Powell, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Mitch Knutson, University of Florida
  • Dr Chris Vulpe, University of Florida
  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • The McCusker Charitable Foundation


Iron homeostasis in developing red blood cells

This project is suitable for PhD students. Background               Most of the iron in the body is contained within red blood cells in the form of haemoglobin and is important for the transport of oxygen around the body. During development, red blood cells must have a highly efficient iron uptake pathway to obtain sufficient iron for […]

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Iron homeostasis during pregnancy and the effect of iron supplements

This project is suitable for PhD students. Background               Adequate dietary iron intake is vitally important during pregnancy as the consequences of iron deficiency at this time can be severe. Complications can include pre-term delivery, intrauterine growth restriction and irreversible neurological damage in the developing infant. With a recent study suggesting that a staggering 60-70% of […]

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The regulation of body iron homeostasis

This project is suitable for PhD students. BACKGROUND Human conditions with disrupted iron homeostasis are very common and most involve the inappropriate production of the peptide hormone hepcidin, which regulates body iron metabolism. Hepcidin is produced by the liver and secreted into the bloodstream where it acts as a negative regulator of intestinal iron absorption […]

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