I am a scientist in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology.

I completed my PhD in Germany and for my postdoctoral time worked at the University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland and the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, La Jolla, USA.

I returned from the USA in 2008 to continue my research in Australia and established a research group at the Westmead Millennium Institute in Sydney.

In July 2015 I moved to James Cook University and my current research focuses on the role of adiponectin and its receptors in cancer, liver injury and fibrosis, and metabolism.

I utilise mouse and cellular models for my studies and I am always looking for motivated and hard working students who wish to run with a project. PhD students should be in the position to apply for an Australian Institute for Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM), Australian Postgraduate Award (APA or JCU) or International (IPRS) Scholarship, or alternatively a scholarship from their home country to support their stay.  Summer studentships are available through the comparative genomics centre and Internships and Masters student applications are encouraged to enquire. Honours students should approach me about their studies.

I have published in high-ranking journals that include: Journal of Cell Science, Cancer Research, Oncogene, Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Hepatology,  Journal of Biological Chemistry and BBA.

Current Honours/Masters/PhD projects:

1. The role of metabolism in Cancer Stem Cell Function and Liver tumour progression.

2. The influence of adiponectin and its receptor interactions in colon and liver diseases.

3. The function of adiponectin receptors in myogenesis.

For PhD scholarship applications see:

JCU is offering the following Research Scholarships for outstanding Doctorate or Research Masters applicants. Closing September 30, 2019 and see the link:


Throughout my career I have been interested in the role of cellular and molecular interactions in tumour cells. The training I received in these areas equipped me with experience in a wide range of technologies, allowing me to bring together molecular, cell biology, biochemistry, stem cell biology, mouse genetics and metabolomics to achieve my goals. The ultimate goal of my research is to understand how these interactions and in particular factors from adipocytes and their corresponding receptors in other organs can mediate processes like cancer, angiogenesis, inflammation and metabolism, and to generate novel therapeutic approaches to treat disease states.

I have supervised six PhD, one Masters and five Honours students to completion. These students have received competitive PhD scholarships (e.g. Australian Postgraduate Award, NSW Cancer Institute, Saudi PhD scholarships), and won scientific awards (e.g. GESA Student Prizes). Four of the Honours students have completed their Honours with first class. I have also had a number of Interns, Summer students, and European Masters students whom have performed their projects in my lab, from Iran, Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Current group

Postdoc: Dr Miriam Wankell MSc PhD

PhD Student: Brittany Dewdney BSc MSc

PhD Student: Lauren Taylor BSc Hons Ist Class

Masters Student: Rhys Gillman BSc

Visiting PhD Student: Cong Chen (Chinese Council PhD Scholar) MD

Medical Student: Eun Jin Sun (3rd Year) BA

 Former students at JCU:

Berenice Charrez, Jade Sternberg, Roxanne Kreuter, Kaltrina Paloja, Cypriane Dormenval, Casey Toft, Maxine Smith, Skye McGregor.

Former students at WIMR/USyd/Westmead:

Sarah Walker (PhD), Stephanie Obeid (PhD), Saeed Esmaili (PhD), Badr Alzahrani (PhD), Mohammed Alanazy (PhD), Medhi Ramezani-Moghadam (MPhil), Nikita Deo (Hons 1st Class), James Hendersen (Hons), Kristen Piper (Hons 1st Class), Lewis Tsang (Hons 1st Class).

Current Funding

SERTA Grant with Townsville Hospital Health Service, Oropharyngeal Cancer and Stem Cells, $50,000, 2019-20.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists Research Grant, $20,000, 2019-20.

Cancer Council Queensland Project Grant: CIA, Clarifying the controversial role of fructose in liver cancer:  $200,000; 2017-9.

Previous Funding

 project grant: CIA, Metabolic drivers of liver cancer progression: $360,000; 2014-7.

NHMRC project grant: CIB, Exploiting the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of bile acid receptor agonists to treat liver disease: $628,074, 2015-8. Administered by the University of Sydney.

JCU Development Grant:  CIA, A new target for treating liver fibrosis. $70,766, 2016-7.

Comparative Genomics Centre: CIA, The role of fructose in memory and behaviour. $10,000, 2016.

JCU Intellectual Property Department: CIA, A Novel Therapeutic for Liver Fibrosis? $2,000, 2015.

NHMRC Project Grant 1049857: CIB, Adiponectin and cholesterol: A driving force in NASH immunopathogenesis: $420,498; 2013-15:

Philantropic Trust: CIB, Development of combinatorial therapies to treat liver cancer $360,000; 2012-14.

NHMRC Project Grant 1006200: CIB, Role of adiponectin in hepatic carcinogenesis: $361,082; 2011-13.

Cancer Council CNSW IG11-27: CIA, Novel molecular targets for treatment of hepatocellular cancer. $100,000, 2011-12.

International Program Development Fund from the University of Sydney. CIA: $20,000, 2011-12

NHMRC Project Grant  632630: CIB, The roleof the adiponectin receptors in liver fibrosis. $379,125, 2010-12:

Philantropic Trust: CIB, Molecular mechanisms for the development and progression of liver cancer. $360,000, 2009-11:

  • BC2013: Principles of Biochemistry (Level 2; TSV)
  • BC2014: Principles of Biochemistry for Pharmacy Students (Level 2; TSV)
  • BC3102: Molecular Basis of Disease (Level 3; TSV)
  • BC3202: Special Topics in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Level 3; TSV)
  • BC5001: Advanced Readings in Molecular and Cell Biology (Level 5; TSV)
  • BC5002: Advanced Research in Molecular and Cell Biology 1 of 2 (Level 5; TSV)
  • BC5102: Advanced Molecular Basis of Disease (Level 5; TSV)
  • BC5202: Advanced Laboratory Practice in Molecular and Cell Biology (Level 5; TSV)
  • BC5312: Research and Dissertation in Molecular and Cell Biology (Level 5; TSV)
  • BM1000: Introductory Biochemistry and Microbiology (Level 1; TSV)
  • MD1010: Introduction to Integrated Medical Studies Part 1 of 2 (Level 1; TSV)
  • MD1020: Introduction to Integrated Medical Studies Part 2 of 2 (Level 1; TSV)
  • Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA)
  • European Society for the Study of the Liver
  • Role of metabolism in liver cancer progression
  • Targeting liver fibrosis
  • Muscle development and disease
  • Mouse models of cancer
  • Cancer Stem Cells
  • 2018 to present - Associate Dean in Research, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2015 to present - Senior Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2008 to 2015 - Group Leader, Westmead Millennium Institute (Westmead, Sydney, Australia)
  • 2006 to 2008 - Staff Investigator, Burnham Institute (La Jolla, USA)
  • 2002 to 2006 - Postdoc, Burnham Institute (La Jolla, USA)
  • 1999 to 2002 - Postdoc, University Hospital, Zurich (Switzerland)
  • 1995 to 1998 - PhD, Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (Karlrsuhe, Germany)
  • 1991 to 1993 - Masters in Science, Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia)
  • 1985 to 1991 - Undergrad Science/Economics/Biochemistry, Griffith University and the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia)
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2017 to 2019 - QLD Cancer Council Project Grant
  • 2016 to 2017 - JCU Development Grant
  • 2013 to 2017 - NSW Cancer Council Project Grant
  • 2016 - 3 Minute Thesis Winner Established Researcher Category
  • 2013 - WMI Science prize
  • 2011 - NSW Cancer Council Innovation Grant
  • 2005 - Career development award from the Fishman Fund
  • 2004 - Travel fellowship from the Keystone Conference Foundation
  • 1995 to 1999 - PhD Fellowship for doctoral work from the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 1992 to 1993 - Fellowship from the Royal Australian College of Physicians for MPhil studies

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 46+ research outputs authored by Dr Lionel Hebbard from 2000 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Cancer Council Qld - Research Grant

Clarifying the controversial role of fructose in liver cancer

Indicative Funding
$200,000 over 2 years
One of the diseases associated with obesity is liver cancer. It is believed that elevated sugar intake is a major factor in promoting this disease. Here, we will evaluate the role of the sugar fructose in liver cancer. Through cellular assays and mouse models we will test how fructose can promote tumour cell growth. By identifying these changes we will use specific inhibitors to reduce tumour growth and allow the development of new therapies to treat this devastating disease.
Lionel Hebbard (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Liver Cancer; Fructose; Adiponectin

Cancer Council NSW - Project Grants

Metabolic drivers of liver cancer progression

Indicative Funding
$180,000 over 2 years
Overweight individuals have an increased risk for developing a fatty liver and liver cancer. This may be due to their reduced production of the hormone adiponectin. Low adiponectin promotes changes in the metabolism of tumors. Using mice not expressing adiponectin we will test the role of important metabolic pathways in liver cancer growth. The proposed research will provide a better understanding of the factors that promote liver cancer formation and suggest novel ways to treat it.
Lionel Hebbard and Liang Qiao in collaboration with George Yeoh, Jacob George, Roger Reddel, Tania Roskams and Tristan Iseli (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Westmead Millennium Institute, The University of Western Australia, The University of Sydney and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)
Tumours; Metabolism

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • The Function and Ligands of G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) in Coral Larvae Settlement (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • A new target mediating cell death in liver cancer. (Masters , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Understanding the role of T-cadherin in Muscle Development and Metabolism (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • The Role of Fructose in Liver Cancer (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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