Professor of Physiology, Monash University

Professor Cowley has over 15 years experience in research and biopharmaceutical drug development. Prior to joining MODI, Professor Cowley was the founder and Chief Scientific Officer of the biopharmaceutical firm Orexigen Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: OREX), which he took public in April 2007, raising US$ 255M to fund this drug development program. Professor Cowley’s laboratory provided the source intellectual property and was the inventor of three of the four drugs under development, including Contrave®, an investigational medicine that is currently awaiting FDA approval for the treatment of obesity following its successful completion of Phase III trials. Previous positions held by Professor Cowley include Core Director, and Associate Scientist at Oregon Health & Sciences University. He also is the inventor of intellectual property that led to the foundation of Thiakis Inc, and validated the obesity drug target Serotonin 2C receptor, now under development by Arena Pharmaceuticals and others. Prof. Cowley has published more than 60 papers and is the inventor of 90 patents related to obesity, diabetes and the role of the CNS in metabolic disorders.

Experience

  • 2008–present
    Research Professor, Monash University
  • 2009–present
    Director, Monash Obesity and Diabetes Institute

Education

  • 1999 
    Monash University, PhD
  • 1993 
    Monash University, Bachelor of Science (Honours)
  • 1989 
    University of Melbourne, Bachelor of Science

Publications

  • 2010
    Synaptic Input Organization of the Melanocortin System Predicts Diet-Induced Obesity , Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
  • 2010
    Diet-induced obesity causes ghrelin resistance in NPY/AgRP neurons, Endocrinology
  • 2010
    Early overnutrition results in early-onset leptin resistance and sensitivity to high-fat diet, Endocrinology
  • 2009
    Changes of peripheral alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone in childhood obesity, Metabolism
  • 2008
    2008 Starvation after AgRP neuron ablation is independent of melanocortin signaling, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
  • 2007
    Glucose-Sensing by POMC Neurons Regulates Glucose Homeostasis and is Impaired in Obesity, Nature
  • 2007
    Insulin Action in AgRP-Expressing Neurons Is Required for Suppression of Hepatic Glucose Production, Cell Metabolism
  • 2002
    Gut hormone PYY(3-36) physiologically inhibits food intake, Nature

Grants and Contracts

  • 2011
    The Role of Brain Inflammation in Leptin Resistance
    Role:
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    NHMRC
  • 2010
    Does Leptin Cause Hypertension?
    Role:
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Heart Research Foundation
  • 2010
    Does Loss of Melanocortin Glucose Sensing Contribute to Diet Induced Diabetes?
    Role:
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    NHMRC
  • 2009
    Pfizer Australia Senior Research Fellowship
    Role:
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Pfizer Australia

Research Areas

  • Autonomic Nervous System (110901)
  • Medical Physiology Not Elsewhere Classified (111699)
  • Endocrinology (110306)
  • Animal Physiology Cell (060602)
  • Animal Physiology Systems (060603)
  • Metabolic Medicine (110107)
  • Central Nervous System (110903)

Honours

Science Ministers Prize for Australian Life Scientist of the Year (2009)
The Age Top 100 Most Influential Melbournians (2009)