Dr Vita Birzniece
Senior Lecturer

Dr Vita Birzniece

MD, PhD 

Medicine & Health
School of Biomedical Sciences

Vita Birzniece, MD, PhD is a Senior Lecturer at SoMS UNSW Sydney, Honorary clinical researcher at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Honorary Medical Officer at Blacktown Hospital, and Senior Lecturer (conjoint) in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Western Sydney University. Dr Birzniece is also a core member of Translational Health Research Institute.

She received PhD in neuroendocrinology in 2004 from the Umea University, Sweden. Over the last 14 years, her research has focused on determining how fat and protein metabolism, body composition and physical function is regulated by hormones. Her ability to design, co-ordinate and complete high quality research is demonstrated by nearly 40 peer reviewed scientific publications, with more than 100 citations for many papers (Google Scholar, h-index 20, i10-index 25), published in top ranked journals like Annals of Internal Medicine and JCEM, the primary clinically-oriented research journal of the US Endocrine Society. According to Expertscape, she is ranked as the Top 2 expert on 'Growth hormone' in Australia (Global Rank 36), and Top 17 expert on 'Androgens'.

Since 2005 she has played a central role in conducting metabolic research at the Garvan Institute and the Department of Endocrinology, St Vincent’s Hospital, NSW. From 2011-2013 Dr Birzniece has been in charge of a research laboratory at the Garvan Institute. In 2013 she was appointed as Senior Lecturer, Endocrinology and Metabolism, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University where she established a Metabolic Research Unit at the WSU Clinical School and Research Centre. Dr Birzniece leads the Metabolic Research Unit, equipped to perform a wide range of body composition, energy expenditure, substrate utilization, physical capacity, muscle strength, and balance assessments. State-of-the-art techniques are implemented using stable isotopes to investigate whole body protein metabolism, hepatic VLDL, and urea turnover. Her laboratory is the only one in Australia to have these stable isotope techniques for assessment of various aspects of metabolism in humans. She has conducted investigator-initiated clinical studies and have been responsible for the design, study visit conduct, analysis and finding dissemination for more than 15 clinical trials. She leads a multicentre project implementing resistance training and diabetes drugs to suppress cancer progression. Currently she is the coordinating principle investigator of a newly established multicentre program of lifestyle and surgical therapy for management of obesity and obesity-related diseases at Blacktown Hospital. The focus is to establish a network of collaborative projects in endocrine, metabolic and cancer research, integrating oncology and obesity/diabetes at UNSW, WSU and WSLHD. In May 2019 she was appointed as Senior Lecturer at SoMS, UNSW Sydney.

Wallace Wurth Building, Level 3 North West, Room 315

  • A sole CI NHMRC project. Novel interplay of hormones in regulating fat metabolism GNT1064365; 2014-2017; $650,892.

  • Collaborative grant Department of Oncology Westmead Hospital; Novel mechanisms of metabolic derangements during testosterone withdrawal and role of exercise in preventing adverse health outcomes in prostate cancer. 2017; CIA; $25,000.

  • WSLHD REN grant; Mechanisms and Novel Markers of the Anti-Neoplastic Effect of Metformin in Prostate Cancer; 2017-2018; CIA; $50,000.

Women in Endocrinology Young Investigator Award (2009), Novo Nordisk New Investigator Award (2009), Outstanding Abstract Award from the US Endocrine Society (2010), US Endocrine Society Trainee (2008) and Presidential (2010) poster competitions.

My Research Supervision

  • Primary supervisor: PhD - Dr Teresa Lam; student ID: 18285084 Western Sydney University. Novel mechanisms determining interplay between changes in protein and glucose metabolism and prostate cancer outcomes.