I completed my PhD in Germany in 1999 and my postdoctoral time was at the University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland and the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, La Jolla, USA.

In 2008 I returned from the USA to establish the" Cancer and Metabolism" research group at the Westmead  Institute of Medical Research in Sydney. In 2015 I moved to James Cook University to a tenured position, where I lecture on metabolic biochemistry in the medical school and lead a research group in the Discipline of Molecular and Cell Biology. The lab is situated in the Science Place and has excellent facilities.

The lab's current research focuses on two themes:

1. Genes regulating liver cancer progression and metabolism.

2. Genes regulating muscle growth and repair.

The laboratory utilises mouse and cellular models for our studies and we are always looking for motivated students who wish to run with a project. PhD students can apply for a JCU domestic or International MPhil/PhD Scholarship, or alternatively a scholarship from their home country to support their stay.  Applications for Internships and Masters Degrees are encouraged to enquire. Science Honours and Medical Honours students should approach me about their studies. We collaborate extensively with Clinicians in the Townsville University Hospital and pursue industry based collaborations.

We have published in Journals that include: Journal of Cell Science, Cancer Research, Oncogene, Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Hepatology,  Journal of Biological Chemistry, PLoS One, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular Basis of Disease, BBA-Reviews on Cancer, Biomolecules and Scientific Reports - Nature.

Current Honours/Masters/PhD projects:

1. Understanding new regulators of liver cancer progression.

2. The role of novel genes in muscle growth.

For MPhil and PhD scholarships see:



I have supervised seven PhD, two 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, China,  Netherlands and Switzerland.

Current group

Postdoc: Dr Miriam Wankell MSc PhD

Adjunct Postdoc: Dr Kylie Lopas BSc Hons PhD MBBS (Townsville University Hospital)

PhD Student: Lauren Taylor BSc Hons Ist Class

PhD Student: Rhys Gillman BSc MPhil

Medical Honours Student: Eun Jin Sun (5th Year) BA

 Former students at JCU:

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

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

Bridge and BridgeTech Industry Fellowship, Chief Investigator,  2021.

Gastroenterological Society of Australia Grant, Chief Investigator, 2021-22.

SERTA Grant Townsville University  Hospital, The North Queeensland liver cancer library,  2020-22.

SERTA Grant Townsville University Hospital, Establishing the North Queensland Diabetic muscle stem cell library, 2021-23.

JCU Sandpit to Seed (S2S), New ways to make new muscle. Chief Investigator, 2020-21.

SERTA Grant  Townsville University  Hospital, Oropharyngeal Cancer and Stem Cells, 2019-21.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists Research Grant, 2019-21.

  • BC2013: Principles of Biochemistry (Level 2; TSV)
  • BC3102: Molecular Basis of Disease (Level 3; TSV)
  • BC5102: Advanced Molecular Basis of Disease (Level 5; 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
  • Australian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Role of metabolism in liver cancer progression
  • Muscle development and disease
  • Cancer Stem Cells
  • 2020 to present - Associate Professor, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2018 to present - Associate Dean, Research, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2015 to 2019 - Senior Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2008 to 2015 - Group Leader, University of Sydney, Westmead Institute of Medical Research (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 - MPhil, Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia)
  • 1985 to 1991 - Undergrad Science/Economics/Biochemistry, Griffith University and the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia)
Research Disciplines
  • 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
  • 2020 to 2021 - Bridge and BridgeTech Industry Fellowship
  • 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 52+ research outputs authored by A/Prof Lionel Hebbard from 2000 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Townsville Hospital and Health Service - Study Education Research Trust Account (SERTA)

Establishing the North Queensland Liver Cancer Library

Indicative Funding
$50,000 over 2 years (administered by THHS)
This project will develop a North Queensland Liver Cancer Library. Liver tumours and non-tumour tissues will be resected from patients and fixed and frozen. The tissues will also be dissociated and cultured in three dimensions to make tumour organoids that will be used in future in vivo experiments in mice, drug trials and biochemical assays.
Pranavan Palamuthusingam, Lionel Hebbard, Craig McFarlane and Avjit Singh in collaboration with Miriam Wankell (Townsville Hospital and Health Services, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Cancer; Cancer stem cells; Organoids

Gastroenterological Society of Australia - Project Grant

Determining the role of a novel gene in liver cancer.

Indicative Funding
$22,727 over 1 year
Liver cancer incidence is increasing dramatically in Australia. Through a genetic screen we have found a novel gene that associates with liver cancer cell DNA damage and metabolism. To investigate its function, we will perform cellular assays and tumour experiments to test how this gene regulates liver cancer growth. The proposed research will provide a better understanding of the factors that promote liver cancer and allow the development of new therapies to treat this devastating disease.
Lionel Hebbard in collaboration with Jacob George, Andreas Lopata and Malcolm McConville (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, The University of Sydney and The University of Melbourne)
Cancer; Cancer stem cells; Liver Cancer

Cancer Council Qld - Research Grant

Clarifying the controversial role of fructose in liver cancer

Indicative Funding
$200,000 over 3 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

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)
  • Targeting DNA Repair in HCC through Synthetic Lethality (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Understanding a new regulator of skeletal muscle myogenesis (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Characterising the role of fructose metabolism in hepatocellular carcinoma (2021, PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Novel targets and strategies in the treatment of liver and oral pharyngeal cancer (2021, Masters , 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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