Metabolism and Vascular Research - The Premilovac Group

Our research aims to understand the mechanisms that regulate blood flow and hence metabolism in organs such as skeletal muscles and the brain in health, obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

The overarching aim of our work is to understand how the smallest blood vessels in the body contribute to development and progression of disease states such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

The research group focuses on three main areas:

  1. Understanding how skeletal muscle metabolism changes with development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
  2. Understanding how the loss of normal microvascular blood flow, specifically through alterations in capillary blood flow, compromises normal skeletal muscle function and metabolism.
  3. Investigating whether pharmacological interventions targeting the microvasculature can be protective or reverse progression of type 2 diabetes and associated complications such as stroke and neuropathy.


  • Obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
  • Insulin signalling and cellular actions
  • Skeletal muscle blood flow and glucose metabolism
  • Microvascular and capillary blood flow
  • Contrast enhanced ultrasound
  • Exercise physiology
  • Cerebral blood flow and stroke


Project 1: Do pericytes regulate capillary blood flow in skeletal muscles?

Appropriate control of blood flow in skeletal muscles is an important determinant of exercise performance and glucose uptake in response to insulin. This project aims to understand the functional roles capillary bound pericytes play in the regulation of blood flow in skeletal muscles at rest, during exercise and in metabolic diseases such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Project 2: How does insulin resistance alter brain vascular function and metabolism?

Insulin has a number of effects in the body to regulate blood glucose levels. Insulin resistance develops when the body’s cells stop responding to insulin normally and insulin resistance is linked with increased risk of brain disorders such as stroke and dementia. This project aims to understand whether insulin has direct effects in the brain to stimulate increased regional cerebrovascular perfusion and glucose uptake and whether this is lost in disease states such as insuluin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Project 3: Is air pollution a trigger for development of insulin resistance?

Urban air pollution is increasingly linked with development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. This project aims to determine whether exposure to a common urban air pollutant, diesel exhaust, leads to development of insulin resistance in experimental rodents.

Project 4: Is insulin a performance enhancing drug?

Insulin is an important hormone that sitmulates a number of anabolic reacitons in the body that may improve exercise performance. Whether insulin administration leads to improved exercise performance has not been investigated and is the aim of this project.

Group Leader(s)


Biomedical Sciences

School of Medicine



Group members

  • Dr Dino Premilovac
  • Dr Stephen Richards
  • Dr Renee Ross
  • Emily Attrill (PhD)
  • Nicole Sumargo (PhD)
  • Amelia Lawrene (Hons)
  • Sathya Perera (Hons)
  • Sophie Mayne (Hons)