Priya Sumithran

Assoc Professor

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Examining the effects of bariatric surgery on mental health
Optimising the use of obesity medications for health improvement in people with obesity-related diseases

20072024

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Biography

Associate Professor Priya Sumithran, MBBS (Hons), PhD, FRACP, is an endocrinologist and clinician researcher. She is Head of the Obesity and Metabolic Medicine Group in the Department of Surgery, School of Translational Medicine, Monash University, and Clinical Lead for Obesity Medicine at Alfred Health (Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes).

 

A/Prof Sumithran completed a PhD at the University of Melbourne (Dept of Medicine, Austin) in 2012 and was a senior endocrinologist for 15 years in the obesity management service at Austin Health, including as Head of Obesity Medicine from 2021-2023.

 

A/Prof Sumithran has received several awards for research, including the ADS Ranji and Amara Wikramanayake Clinical Diabetes Research award (2023), University of Melbourne Dame Kate Campbell Fellowship (2021) and David Bickart Clinician Researcher Fellowship (2019), Endocrine Society of Australia/Servier Young Investigator award (2012) and Bupa Health Foundation Emerging Health Researcher of the Year (2012).

 

Her research has received substantial competitive fellowship and grant funding, totalling in excess of $7 million, including an NHMRC Investigator Grant (2020-2024), as well as funding from MRFF, St Vincent’s Research Endowment Fund, Austin Medical Research Foundation, Dementia Australia Research Foundation, Sir Edward Dunlop Medical Research Foundation, and Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

 

A/Prof Sumithran has co-authored >80 peer-reviewed papers, including publications in the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, British Medical Journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, Obesity and the Medical Journal of Australia. She served on the council of the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society from 2017 to 2022.

Research interests

Almost one third of Australians are directly affected by obesity- a complex chronic disease that is associated with an elevated risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and several cancers. Obesity and its related complications can adversely impact quality of life and impose a substantial financial strain to individuals and healthcare systems. Research shows that losing 5% or more of baseline body weight can mitigate adverse effects of obesity on an individual’s health, including lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, sustaining weight loss and its health benefits over the long-term, and improving access to effective strategies to manage obesity sustainably and equitably, are major challenges.

 

The main goal of our research group is to reduce the impact of obesity on health and wellbeing. Our research focuses on the neuroendocrine regulation of appetite and eating behaviours, the clinical application of obesity therapeutics and improving access to care. We are conducting several clinical studies to understand how best to integrate new treatments for obesity alongside established therapies to improve health outcomes, sustainability and access to care. Ultimately, these studies aim to address unmet clinical needs, enable the provision of high-quality, evidence-based healthcare, and reduce weight-related stigma. 

 

University Service

  • Guidelines Development Committee, Clinical Practice Guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children (NHMRC/Australian Govt Dept of Health and Aged Care)
  • Member, Lancet Commission on Clinical Obesity (Lancet/Kings Health Partners)
  • Leadership group, The Obesity Collective
    Best Care expert working group, guidance on cholecystectomy during bariatric surgery, SaferCareVic 2022
  • Panel member, Univ of Melb Medical (MD) Student Conference, ‘Impact of weight stigma on access to healthcare 2022
  • Obesity working group, Health Pathways Primary Health Network, Eastern Melbourne 2019
  • Public Bariatric Surgery Taskforce 2018-2020
  • Steering committee, National Association of Clinical Obesity Services 2018-2019
  • Leader, Clinical stream of organising committee for ANZOS annual scientific meeting 2018
  • Council, Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS) 2017-2022

Community service

2023

  • Interview for stories on obesity treatment for general public and clinician audiences 

2022

  • Interview, “Body fat regulation, pros and cons of weight loss interventions, GLP-1 receptor agonists” Sigma Nutrition podcast (international) https://sigmanutrition.com/episode460/
  • Interview, “Treatment of type 2 diabetes” Purple Pen podcast https://www.purplepenpodcast.com/home/2022/9/10/type-ii-diabetes-update
  • Interview, “What is the weight impact of type 2 diabetes treatment?” Medscape https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/975642?src=
  • Interview for comment on accessibility of obesity drugs, MJA insight https://insightplus.mja.com.au/2022/24/accessibility-cost-of-game-changing-obesity-drugs-problematic/

2021

  • Article, Is treating obesity the future of managing type 2 diabetes? Pursuit https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/is-treating-obesity-the-future-of-managing-type-2-diabetes
  • Interview, What is obesity? Student Orthopaedic & Musculoskeletal Association (SOMA) podcast
  • Interview, Medical management of obesity, Evenings program, ABC radio

2020

  • Interview, How do hormones affect our weight? House of Wellness (online article)
  • Interview, Life Matters program, Radio National
    (https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/obesity/11152836)
  • Content leader, Treatment of Obesity section, Obesity Evidence Hub

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Melbourne

… → 2012

FRACP, Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP)

… → 2007

MBBS (Hons), University of Melbourne

… → 1999

External positions

Endocrinologist, Alfred Health

Jun 2023 → …

Research area keywords

  • Obesity
  • Obesity & Diabetes
  • Obesity and health
  • Obesity treatments
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Gut-brain axis
  • Weight Management