Of mice and…
Deakin University’s Associate Professor John Donald has been
selected by the University of Tokyo to be a Visiting Associate
Professor at that institution for the next two months.
“This appointment is a great honour and a great opportunity,” Associate Professor Donald said.
“The selection is based on my research CV and the collaborative relationship of the applicant with academics at the University of Tokyo.
“I will be visiting the Ocean Research Institute (ORI), which is part of the University of Tokyo. I will primarily be doing research but may also give a few lectures to postgraduate students.”
Associate Professor Donald and his partner, Associate Professor Tes Toop, have a long history of collaboration with Professor Yoshio Takei and Associate Professor Susumu Hyodo from the Laboratory of Physiology of ORI of the University of Tokyo.
“Yoshio has been coming to Deakin to do research every year for the past six years,” Associate Professor Donald said.
“He has made a significant input to a number of Higher Degree by Research student projects and was a co-chief investigator on an ARC Discovery Project [2005-2007] with Tes and me.
“Yoshio's contribution was recognised in 2005 with the Geoff Wilson Medal, which is presented by the Faculty of Science and Technology.
“Susumu Hyodo has visited Deakin twice a year for the past three years to work on elephant fish at the Victorian Marine Science Consortium. Deakin is a member of that consortium.
“Tes and I have published a number of papers and conference abstracts in collaboration with Yoshio and Susumu. It is this close association that has culminated in my selection by the University of Tokyo as a Visiting Associate Professor.”
Associate Professor Donald’s collaborative work with hopping mice recently gained him national media exposure here in Australia.
“I am interested in their ability to survive without drinking water for their entire lives if they need to,” he said.
“Despite being able to survive without drinking water, they still need to be in water balance and we are looking at the mechanisms by which they do this.
“When Hopping Mice metabolise their food they generate metabolic water – 90 per cent of their water comes from the metabolism of their food.”
The researchers have been studying the Hopping Mice to see what happens to their appetite in situations when drinking water is not available.
They found that at first the Hopping Mice, to conserve body water, would eat very little for around six days – their appetite effectively became suppressed. After this, their appetite increased markedly to above normal levels.
“It is a natural model of appetite suppression and stimulation,” Associate Professor Donald explained.
“For the first six days without drinking water their appetite is suppressed and they consume their body fat. Their appetite then increases and they generate metabolic water by eating a lot.”
Associate Professor Donald said the findings potentially represented a new approach to understanding appetite regulation.
“The process of understanding appetite regulation is quite complex and has implications for a wide range of health issues affecting people.” He said.
“Through studying the appetite regulation mechanisms of Hopping Mice we are gaining valuable insights into this complex process.”
How the Sydney Morning Herald reported Associate Professor Donald’s work: