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Professor Robyn Murphy Head of Dept Biochemistry & Genetics, Biochemistry

I have a BSC in Chemistry and an Honours degree in Exercise Biochemistry, both attained from Victoria University, Footscray, Australia. My PhD was in the area of creatine metabolism, completed at Deakin University, Burwood, Australia. I spent my postdoctoral years working with Prof Graham Lamb, Dept of Zoology, LaTrobe University. In 2010 I began my academic position in Dept of Zoology, La Trobe University. I was the National Secretary for the Australian Physiological Society 2011-2013. I moved to the Department of Biochemistry and Genetics, La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science in 2015. I was appointed Head of Biochemistry and Genetics in December 2016.

My overall research interest is in the area of skeletal muscle in health and disease. The research of my group focuses on various aspects of skeletal muscle biochemistry in health and disease, using exercise and disease models in humans, as well as animal models. In particular, we measure proteins in segments of individual fibres allowing issues with the heterogeneity of skeletal muscle to be overcome. We also examine movement of proteins following micro-dissection of fibres, allowing us to quantitatively assess the redistribution of proteins following various interventions.

A summary of my lab's research areas:

(1)Understanding the regulation and functional properties of calcium dependent proteases, the calpains, in skeletal muscle. If an individual has an absent or non-functional muscle specific calpain-3, they develop a type of muscular dystrophy (LGMD2A). We use exercise as a manipulation to alter intracellular calcium levels, and also to see how stretching a muscle (i.e.. lengthening, or eccentric contractions) can affect the activation of calpains and their in vivo cellular targets.

(2)Understanding how AMPK, GLUT4 and the proteins related to glycogen are involved in skeletal muscle function, in particular in response to exercise and diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Importantly, we are trying to understand what the mechanisms are that result in an improvement in this metabolic disease following exercise interventions.

(3)Investigation of mitochondrial function in diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and exploration of any impairments in mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle obtained from old compared with young individuals. Mouse models are sometimes used to follow up changes seen.

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