Staff profile - Ken Walder

Prof Ken Walder

Position: Chair In Metabolic Diseases
role description
Faculty or Division: Faculty of Health
Department: School of Medicine
Campus: Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus
Phone: +61 3 522 72883 +61 3 522 72883



Professor Walder is the Chair of Metabolic Diseases in the School of Medicine and the Molecular and Medical Research SRC. His research focuses on obesity and type 2 diabetes, and mental health disorders, and in particular the discovery of novel treatments for these diseases. After spending 2 years at the National Institutes of Health in Phoenix, Arizona, Professor Walder returned to Deakin University where he has played a key role in the evolution of the Metabolic Research Unit. He has authored more than 75 academic publications and is named as an inventor on more than 40 patent applications. Professor Walder has worked closely with a number of industry partners, and is focused on conducting applied research with tangible outcomes that benefit Australia. In 2014, a compound discovered in Professor Walder’s laboratory successfully completed a Phase 2 clinical trial for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Deakin University, 1998

Career highlights

A new drug for diabetes discovered in Prof Walder's laboratory successfully completed a phase 2 clinical trial, where it caused a significant reduction in plasma HbA1c levels (Simpson et al. Diabetes Care, 2014).


European Association for the Study of Diabetes

American Diabetes Association

Australian Diabetes Society

International Association for the Study of Obesity

North American Association for the Study of Obesity

Australian Society for the Study of Obesity


Teaching Interests

5 PhD students

Medical Innovations component of HBS400 (Honours)

Subjects and units currently teaching

HBS400 (Medical Innovations)

Knowledge areas

Metabolic diseases (obesity, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).

Mental health (depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia).


Drug discovery.

Conferences and seminars

Invited presentations at national and international conferences including:

Australian Diabetes Society Annual Scientific Meeting, Sydney, August 2013. Invited seminar presentation: “VVP808 and fatty liver disease”.

Baker-IDI Research Institute Seminar Series, Melbourne, October 2011. Invited seminar presentation: “Use of GES technology to discover a new insulin sensitising agent”.

Frontiers in Obesity Research, Melbourne, September 2011. Invited seminar presentation: “VVP808: A novel insulin sensitising agent”.

University of Melbourne Department of Medicine Seminar Series, Melbourne, May 2010. Invited seminar presentation: “VVP808: A novel insulin sensitising agent”.

Monash University Obesity Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, June 2010. Invited seminar presentation: “Mechanism of action of VVP808”.

MSD Diabetes Meeting, Sydney, October 11-12, 2008. Symposium presentation: “Overview of mitochondrial dysfunction in diabetes”.

GTCbio 3rd Metabolic Diseases World Summit, San Diego, USA, November 1-2, 2007. Symposium presentation: “Use of gene expression signatures to discover novel diabetes therapeutics”.

ASSO 15th Annual Scientific Meeting, Canberra, Australia, August 31-September 2, 2007. Symposium presentation: “The adipocyte as an endocrine organ”.

2nd International Congress on Prediabetes and the Metabolic Syndrome, Barcelona, Spain, April 25-28, 2007. Symposium presentation: “The mitochondrial protease PARL and type 2 diabetes”.

2nd Scientific Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Diabetes and Obesity Study Group, Kyoto, Japan, August 26-7, 2006. Symposium presentation: “CXS741, A Novel Secreted Protein Involved in the Pathogenesis of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes”.

1st Scientific Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Diabetes and Obesity Study Group, Kobe, Japan, August 20-1, 2005. Symposium presentation: “Genetic variation in PSARL is associated with plasma insulin concentration”.


Awards and prizes

1998 Fogarty Fellowship (NIH)

2006 Smart Geelong Network Biotechnology Researcher of the Year


Research projects

Professor Walder serves as a reviewer for the following journals:



International Journal of Obesity

Molecular and General Genetics

Kidney International


Professor Walder regularly reviews research applications for national and international funding bodies, including NHMRC and ARC.

Research interests

Professor Walders research is primarily focused on the discovery and validation of novel drug treatments for complex diseases. This research utilises state of the art equipment and technologies, in combination with unique model systems and sample collections, to screen for small molecules that can be used to treat complex diseases. The novel drug candidates are tested in in vitro and in vivo model systems to establish their potential for development as therapeutics.

Research grants

2015: NHMRC Project Grant (APP1078928, "Gene Expression Signature Technology to Repurpose Drugs for Bipolar Disorder", CI's Walder, Berk, Leboyer, $467,203 over 3 years.

2012: NHMRC Project Grant (APP1027227, "The role of the class IIa HDACs in metabolic disease"),  CI's McGee, Walder, $453,000 over 3 years.

2012: NHMRC Project Grant (APP1027226, "The role of amyloid beta in insulin resistance"), CI's McGee, Walder, Hargreaves, $401,250 over 3 years.

2010:  ARC-Linkage Grant (LP100100087, “Discovery and development of novel insulin sensitising   compounds for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes”), CI’s Walder, Pfeffer, Konstantopoulos, Krippner, $300,000 over 3 years.

2010: ARC-Linkage Grant (LP100100069, “Enzymatic synthesis, microencapsulation and biological  evaluation of a new class of omega-3 derived functional food ingredients”), CI’s Barrow,  Sinclair, Walder, Kralovec, Ewart, Adcock, Ackland, Musgrave, $470,000 over 3 years.

2010: ARC LIEF Grant (LE100100195, “Field emission gun transmission electron microscope for the  research in nanomaterials, metal alloys and biological sciences”), CI’s Chen, Barnett,  Hodgson, Wang, Tsuzuki, Wen, Glushenkov, Kong, Sorrell, Zhang, Chen, Phelan, Walder,  Peleckis, Moulton, Beynon, Wang, Cahill, Cizek, Barnett, Stanford, Guo, O'Donnell,  $1,000,000.

2009:  DART Project Grant (“Antidiabetic effects of a new secreted protein associated with type 2   diabetes”), CI Walder, $52,107.

2005: ARC-Linkage Grant (LP0562367, “Use of a cell based assay to identify novel insulin-   sensitising agents”), CI’s Walder, James, Brown, $330,000 over 3 years.

Research page



Top 5 Publications in the last 5 years

1. Konstantopoulos N, Foletta VC, Segal DH, ….. Walder KR. “A Gene Expression Signature for Insulin Resistance”. Physiological Genomics, 2011, 43, 110-120.

The discovery of a gene expression signature for insulin resistance that was subsequently used to repurpose methazolamide for type 2 diabetes. All of the discovery work was conducted in CIA Walder’s laboratory. Therefore, this paper shows proof of concept for the current proposal.

2. Konstantopoulos N, Molero JC, McGee SL, ….. Walder KR. “Methazolamide is a new hepatic insulin sensitizer that lowers blood glucose in vivo”. Diabetes, 2012, 61, 2146-54.

A multi-national collaborative study in which we repurposed methazolamide, a previously marketed systemic drug used to treat glaucoma and discovered using GES technology, as a new therapeutic option for type 2 diabetes.

3. Simpson RW, Nicholson GC….Walder KR, Wacher VJ. Efficacy and Safety of Oral Methazolamide in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A 24-week, Placebo-cxontrolled, Couble-blind Study. Diabetes Care, 2014, 37, 3121-3.

A follow-up paper from the previous GES studies above describing a successful Phase 2 clinical trial with Methazolamide.

4. Civitarese AE, MacLean P, Carling S, ….. Walder K, Collier GR, Ravussin E. “Regulation of Skeletal Muscle Oxidative Capacity and Insulin Signaling by the Mitochondrial Rhomboid Protease PARL”. Cell Metabolism, 2010, 11, 412-26.

A multinational collaborative study showing how skeletal muscle function is regulated by PARL, a diabetes target discovered in the laboratory of CIA Walder (21 citations).

5. Bozaoglu K, Curran JE, Stocker CJ, ….. Walder K, Cawthorne MA, Blangero J, Jowett JB. “Chemerin, a novel adipokine in the regulation of angiogenesis”. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2010, 95, 2476-85.

A further manuscript in a series we have produced describing the role of chemerin in metabolic disease. This multinational study demonstrated for the first time a role for chemerin in angiogenesis, which is an important factor in the development of obesity. This manuscript has been cited 46 times.

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