Our People

David Frazer

Associate Professor | Team Head

Molecular Nutrition

+61 7 3845 3063



Associate Professor David Frazer is the Head of the Molecular Nutrition Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer and he has been investigating the role of iron in health and disease for over 20 years. He joined QIMR Berghofer in 1998 as a PhD student and began examining the molecular basis of intestinal iron absorption and its regulation. Following his PhD, David remained at QIMR Berghofer and continued to research iron-related diseases as a Post-Doctoral scientist in the Iron Metabolism Laboratory. He is now Head of the Molecular Nutrition Laboratory and his current work focuses predominantly on the development and use of novel iron supplements to treat iron deficiency, examining how mutations in HFE lead to iron loading in haemochromatosis patients and investigating the molecular basis of iron homeostasis during pregnancy and infancy.



  • Team Head, Molecular Nutrition Laboratory
  • Senior Research Fellow



2012-2019: Senior Research Officer, Iron Metabolism Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Australia.

2012-2014: Australian Liver Foundation-Hospitality Industry Career Development Research Fellow, Iron Metabolism Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer

2005-2008: Bushell Postdoctoral Fellow of the Gastroenterological Society of Australia, Iron Metabolism Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer

2003-2012: Research Officer, Iron Metabolism Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer








  • perinatal iron homeostasis. Adequate iron levels are critical during pregnancy and early infancy, however, our understanding of perinatal iron homeostasis is limited. We have previously shown that the processes involved in dietary iron absorption in breastfed infants are fundamentally different from those of adults and we continue to explore the underlying mechanisms 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
  • regulation of hepcidin in health and disease. The hormone hepcidin is often referred to as the master regulator of iron homeostasis and its aberrant production is associated with several disease states such as hereditary haemochromatosis and the anaemia of inflammation. Our research aims to uncover the molecular pathways involved in hepcidin regulation and to develop ways to manipulate these pathways to treat disorders of iron homeostasis
  • Iron nutrition and novel iron supplements to treat iron deficiency. Iron deficiency affects more than two billion people worldwide making it the most prevalent nutritional disorder known. Iron supplements are commonly used to combat iron deficiency, however current formulations are based on ferrous iron salts, which are highly reactive and can lead to side effects that reduce compliance. We are investigating several novel iron supplements that have the potential to be just as effective as ferrous based supplements, but with fewer side effects
  • investigating manipulation of iron levels in specific tissues to treat disease. There is emerging evidence that the progression of some disease states not typically associated with iron can be altered by manipulating cellular iron levels. We are 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
  • in collaboration with Associate Professor James Scott and the Child and Youth Mental Health Group at QIMR Berghofer, the group is conducting a clinical trial to determine whether iron supplementation can alleviate some of the symptoms in patients suffering from Tourette Syndrome
  • in collaboration with Associate Professor James Hudson and the Cardiac Bioengineering Laboratory, the group is investigating the role of iron in cardiac function and development




  • Senior author on a paper showing that circulating diferric transferrin levels contribute to hepcidin down-regulation following stimulated erythropoiesis


  • Lead author on a paper demonstrating that dietary iron absorption during breastfeeding is not able to be down-regulated by circulating hepcidin as it is in adults
  • Lead author on a study showing that red blood cell iron recycling can occur independently of hepcidin


  • Joint lead author on a study examining the mechanism of absorption of a novel iron supplement


  • Lead author on a study showing that the decrease in hepcidin in b-thalassaemia occurs despite increases in BMP-6


  • Lead author on a paper showing that the distal alimentary canal plays a role in iron absorption during breastfeeding


  • Lead author of a paper outlining a comprehensive model for the regulation of iron homeostasis
  • Joint lead author on the first study to demonstrate that haemochromatosis patients load with iron because of a reduction in circulating hepcidin




  • Nutrition Society of Australia


  • Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Australian Society for Medical Research
  • Gastroenterological Society of Australia
  • International BioIron Society




  • Finalist for CMGH’s Best Trainee Article of 2017 to be presented at Digestive Disease Week 2018


  • The Australian Liver Foundation-Hospitality Industry Career Development Research Fellowship


  • The Gastroenterological Society of Australia Bushell Postdoctoral Fellowship


  • Australian Gastroenterology Week 2000, Young Investigator Finalist
  • Gastroenterological Society of Australia, Queensland Branch 2000 Young Investigator Award


  • Mackerras Scholarship – supplementary scholarship awarded by the Queensland Institute of Medical Research for outstanding students
  • Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship for PhD
  • Student Representative at the Queensland University of Technology Graduation Ceremony for the Faculty of Science


  • Queensland University of Technology University Medal for Academic Excellence


  • Queensland University of Technology Dean’s Award for Excellence – awarded for achieving the highest undergraduate grade point average 



2003: Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland

1997: Bachelor of Applied Science (Honours), Queensland University of Technology

1996: Bachelor of Applied Science (Biochemistry/Microbiology Major and Physiology Minor), Queensland University of Technology