Staff profile - Sean Mcgee

Staff image

AsPr Sean Mcgee

Position: Associate Professor of Medical Biology
role description
Faculty or Division: Faculty of Health
Department: School of Medicine
Campus: Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus
Phone: +61 3 522 72519 +61 3 522 72519



Associate Professor McGee obtained his PhD in Molecular Physiology from Deakin University in 2005 and completed postdoctoral training at the Department of Physiology, The University of Melbourne, and The Welcome Trust Biocentre, University of Dundee, Scotland. At the beginning of 2009, relocated his research program to the School of Medicine, Deakin University, where he currently heads the Metabolic Reprogramming Laboratory, within the Metabolic Research Unit.


  • Bachelor of Applied Science, Deakin University, 2002
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Deakin University, 2005
  • Graduate Certificate of Higher Education, Deakin University, 2011


Dr McGee is a member of the Australian Diabetes Society, the Australian Physiological Society and the American Physiological Society.

Professional activities

NHMRC Grant Review Panel Member -  2012, 2013, 2015

Treasurer, Metabolism and Molecular Medicine Special Interest Group, The Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology - 2014 to present


Teaching Interests

Associate Professor McGee is coordinator of the Metabolism and Musculoskeletal Topic of the Knowledge of Health and Illness Theme (HME201) within the Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery degree. He also contributes to teaching in other subjects including Molecular Biology Techniques (SBB321) and Research Methods (HBS400). Associate Professor McGee also supervisors honours and PhD students.

Knowledge areas

Metabolism, cell signalling, transcription, obesity and type 2 diabetes, cancer metabolism, cardiac metabolism


Awards and prizes

Associate Professor McGee has been awarded research funds totalling in excess of $3 million, with the majority from external National Competitive Grant Schemes, such as the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Diabetes Australia Research Trust (DART) and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Dr McGee has also been awarded prestigious fellowships, including an NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellowship, the DART Viertel Fellowship and an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship. He was also awarded the AK McIntrye Medal from the Australian Physiological Society in 2010.



Research interests

Chronic over-nutrition is driving an epidemic of chronic diseases that includes obesity and type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Cellular metabolic reprogramming underpins the pathogenesis of all of these diseases. Our laboratory aims to understand the mechanisms that mediate metabolic reprogramming in these diseases and seeks to leverage this knowledge to develop therapies to combat the chronic disease epidemic.

Research grants

2016    Diabetes Australia Research Trust
SL McGee
The role of GAPDH acetylation in the regulation of liver metabolism
 Awarded - $60,000

2015-2016   National Breast Cancer Foundation Innovation Award
SL McGee
Targeting class IIa histone deacetylases to impair breast cancer cell metabolism and survival
Awarded - $196,380

2015    Diabetes Australia Research Trust
SL McGee
Targeting Protein Kinase D to treat diabetic cardiomyopathy
Awarded - $59,000

2013    Diabetes Australia Research Trust
SL McGee
Transforming fat to increase energy expenditure
Awarded - $59,000

2012-2015   NHMRC Career Development Fellowship
SL McGee
Transcriptional mechanisms contributing to metabolic disease
Awarded - $391,076

2012-2014   NHMRC Project Grant
SL McGee, K Walder
Understanding the role of the class IIa histone deacetylases in metabolic disease
Awarded - $453,600

2012-2014    NHMRC Project Grant
SL McGee, K Walder, M Hargreaves
The role of amyloid beta in insulin resistance
Awarded - $401,250

2011-2013   NHMRC Project Grant
MA Febbraio, CR Bruce, SL McGee, M Hargreaves
Activation of HSP72 in skeletal muscle as a therapeutic target for obesity
Awarded - $633,390

2011-2013     NHMRC Project Grant
S Rogers, SL McGee, GR Steinberg
Mechanisms regulating nutrient stimulated glucose disposal - linking diet and diabetes
Awarded - $573,390

2010-2011   Diabetes Australia Research Trust Viertel Award
SL McGee
HDAC inhibition as an exercise mimetic and treatment for obesity    and type 2 diabetes
Awarded - $300,000

2006-2009   NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellowship
SL McGee
Molecular mechanisms mediating skeletal muscle gene expression and      function   
Awarded - $269,000

Research page



Selected publications:

1. S.L. McGee, B.J.W. van Denderen, K.F. Howlett, J. Mollica, J.D. Schertzer, B.E. Kemp and M. Hargreaves. AMP-activated protein kinase activates GLUT4 transcription by phosphorylating HDAC5.
Diabetes, 57: 860-7, 2008.

2. R. Teperino, S. Amann, S. Bayer, S.L. McGee, A. Loipetzberger, T. Connor, C. Jaeger, B. Kammerer, L. Winter, G. Wiche, K. Dalgaard, S. Madhan, J. Reiter, M. Gaster, R. Lee-Young, M.A. Febbraio, C. Knauf, P.D. Cani, F. Aberger, J.M. Penninger, J.A. Pospisilik and H. Esterbauer.
Hedgehog partial agonism drives Warburg-like metabolism in muscle and brown fat.
Cell. 151: 414-426, 2012.

3. A. Selathurai, G.M. Kowalski, M.L. Burch, P. Sepulveda, S. Risis, R.S. Lee-Young, S. Lamon, P.J. Meikle, A.J. Genders, S.L. McGee, M.J. Watt, A.P. Russell, M. Frank, S. Jackowski, M.A. Febbraio and C.R. Bruce.
Elimination of the CDP-ethanolamine pathway in skeletal muscle has pronounced effects on lipid homeostasis and mitochondrial oxidative capacity without altering insulin sensitivity.
Cell Metabolism. 21:718-30, 2015.

4. S.L. McGee and M. Hargreaves.
Exercise and MEF-2 regulation in human skeletal muscle.
Diabetes, 53:1208-14, 2004.

5. S.D. Martin, S. Morrison, N. Konstantopoulos and S.L. McGee.
Mitochondrial dysfunction has divergent, cell type-dependent effects on insulin action.
Molecular Metabolism. 3:408-18, 2014.

6. S.L. McGee, K.J. Mustard, D.G. Hardie and K. Baar. Normal hypertrophy accompanied by phosphorylation and activation of AMPK α1 following overload in LKB1 knockout mice.
Journal of Physiology, 586: 1731-41, 2008.

7. S.L. McGee, K.F. Howlett, R.L. Starkie, D. Cameron-Smith, B.E. Kemp and M. Hargreaves.
Exercise increases nuclear AMPK α2 in human skeletal muscle.
Diabetes, 52:926-8, 2003.

8. T.J. Parmenter, M. Kleinschmidt, K.M. Kinross, S.T. Bond, J. Li, M.R. Kaadige, A. Rao, K.E. Sheppard, W. Hugo, G. Pupo, R.B. Pearson, S.L. McGee, G.V. Long, R.A. Scolyer, H. Rizos, R.S. Lo, C. Cullinane, D.E. Ayer, A. Ribas, R.W. Johnstone, R.J. Hicks and G.A. McArthur.
Response of mutant BRAF melanoma to BRAF inhibition is mediated by a network of transcriptional regulators of glycolysis.
Cancer Discovery. 4:423-433, 2014.

9. S.L. McGee, E. Farlie, A.P. Garnham and M. Hargreaves.
Exercise induced histone modifications in human skeletal muscle.
Journal of Physiology, 587: 5951-8, 2009.

10. S.L. McGee, C. Swinton, S. Morrison, V. Gaur, D.E. Campbell, S.B. Jorgensen, B.E. Kemp, K. Baar, G.R. Steinberg and M. Hargreaves.
Compensatory regulation of HDAC5 in muscle maintains metabolic adaptive responses and metabolism in response to energetic stress.
FASEB Journal. 28:3384-95, 2014.

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