About us

The Immunometabolism Research Group interacts with other researchers across the School of Biomedical Sciences and UNSW Medicine & Health to investigate and target the mechanisms involved in the development of long-term complications in cancer survivors, using a translational approach ranging from cellular models to animal and human studies. Research focus ranges from the investigation of immune and metabolic functions in whole body or selected organs to the characterisation of the methylome and transcriptome of immune cells. We use various strategies to target these complications including exercise and nutritional interventions.

What we do

  • Metabolic complications in childhood cancer survivors: our group aims at developing innovative strategies to assist in the early detection of metabolic defects developing in long-term survivors of childhood cancer using a range of techniques including molecular biology, microbiology, cell culture and flow cytometry or cell sorting.
  • Role of exercise in cancer: we investigate the interaction between physical activity and immune and metabolic functions in the context of cancer and cancer treatment in both animal models and human studies
  • Muscle metabolism in diabetes and obesity: using animal and human models, our group investigates the key mechanisms involved in the development of insulin resistance in skeletal muscle and potential therapeutic strategies to prevent those defects.

Current projects

  • Role of exercise in the modulation of immune functions and the gut microbiota in cancer survivors
  • Targeting the gut microbiota to prevent and treat complications in cancer survivors
  • Physical activity and cardiovascular risks in children with cancer and childhood cancer survivors.


  • Opportunities are available for Honours, Masters or PhD candidates.


Deputy Dean Research Operations UNSW Medicine and Health David Simar
Deputy Dean Research Operations UNSW Medicine and Health

T:  +61 2 9065 1046
E:  d.simar@unsw.edu.au

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  • Professor Richard Cohn (Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, Australia)
  • Professor David Goldstein (Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, Australia)
  • Dr Laurence Macia (Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
  • A/Pr Romain Barres (The Novo Nordisk Foundation Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Pr Yoichiro Kusunoki (Radiation Effects Research Foundation, Hiroshima, Japan)

Resources & tools

  • Luo A, Leach ST,…, Simar D. (2017) The Microbiota and epigenetic regulation of T helper 17/regulatory T cells: in search of a balanced immune system. Front Immunol; 8:417.
  • Nylander V, Ingerslev LR,…, Simar D, Barres R. (2016) Ionizing radiation potentiates high fat diet-induced insulin resistance and reprograms skeletal muscle and adipose progenitor cells. Diabetes; 65(12):3573-3584.
  • Raghuraman S, Donkin I,…, Simar D. (2016) The emerging role of epigenetics in inflammation and immunometabolism. Trends Endocrinol Metab; 27(11):782-95.
  • Simar D, Versteyhe S, Donkin I et al. (2014) DNA methylation is altered in B and NK lymphocytes from obese and type 2 diabetic human. Metabolism; 63(9):1188-97.
  • Chen H, Simar D, Pegg K, et al. (2014) Exendin-4 is effective against metabolic disorders induced by intrauterine and postnatal overnutrition in rodents. Diabetologia; 57(3):614-22.
  • Mavros Y, Kay S, …,  Simar D, et al. (2013) Changes in insulin resistance and HbA1c are related to exercise-mediated changes in body composition in older adults with type 2 diabetes: Interim outcomes from the GREAT2DO trial. Diabetes Care; 36(8):2372-9.

Grants & funding

Our work has been supported by funding from the Cancer Institute NSW, Cancer Council NSW, the NHMRC, Diabetes Australia Research Trust and the Nordea Foundation in Denmark. In collaboration with researchers from UNSW Medicine & Health it has also attracted infrastructure grants to improve our research support.


  • Brianna Clifford (PhD)
  • Nadia Lopes Amorim (PhD)
  • David Mizrahi (PhD)