Diet plays an important role in maintaining lifelong health. In fact, it has been known for nearly 100 years that moderate dietary restriction can extend healthy lifespan in a broad range of taxa. Several recent studies have pointed to the importance of dietary macronutrient balance as key for its beneficial effects. Using Drosophila melanogaster, we have been concentrating on the role of dietary protein. In particular, we have found that altering the amino acid balance to match the genome of the consumer gives a definition of high-quality protein that can support long life without the drawbacks of dietary restriction. We have also found that on natural diets, dietary protein can act indirectly on lifespan by forcing flies to partition limiting amounts of dietary sterols to reproduction at the expense of lifespan. Thus the shortened lifespan of flies fed on high protein : carbohydrate diets can be rescued by rebalancing their dietary amino acid composition and by supplementing their food with cholesterol. I will discuss how these data fundamentally alter the way we interpret the mechanisms of lifespan extension by dietary restriction.
Matt graduated with a PhD from UNSW in 2000. From there, he undertook postdocs at TUDelft (The Netherlands) and University College London (UK). In 2011, he was awarded a Royal Society University Fellowship and started his own lab at UCL working on the effects of diet on ageing in Drosophila. Upon being awarded a Future Fellowship to continue this work, Matt relocated his lab to Monash in 2016. Throughout his career he has worked on the role of central nitrogen metabolism and its role in modulating physiology and behaviour.