Professor David Dunstan

Professorial Fellow
Behaviour, Environment and Cognition Research Program

Professor David Dunstan

Areas of expertise: Role of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in the prevention and management of chronic diseases.

ORCID ID: 0000-0003-2629-9568

Phone: +61(03) 8532 1873


Location: ACU Melbourne Campus

Professor David Dunstan is Head of the Physical Activity Laboratory at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne and an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow. He is also a Professor within the Centre for Exercise and Nutrition, Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University, an Adjunct Professor in the School of Sports Science, Exercise and Health at the University of WA, an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland, an Adjunct Associate Professor the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University and an Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine at Monash University.

His research focuses on the role of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in the prevention and management of chronic diseases. His research program has attracted considerable external funding from the NHMRC, VicHealth and the National Heart Foundation. He has published 175 peer-reviewed papers, including publications in high impact journals such as Circulation, Diabetes Care, Diabetologia, Obesity Reviews, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Over the past 15 years, David has established an extensive media profile including interviews with National Public Radio, Wall Street Journal, CNN, the New York Times and the LA Times.

Select publications

  • Dunstan DW, Dogra S, Carter SE, Owen N. Sit less and move more for cardiovascular health: Emerging insights and opportunities. Nature Reviews Cardiology (2021) accepted 22 March 2021
  • Hadgraft, NT, Winkler E, Climie, RE, Grace, MS, Romero L, Owen N, Dunstan DW, Healy G, Dempsey, PC. Effects of sedentary behaviour interventions on biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk in adults:systematic review with meta-analyses. British Journal of Sports Medicine (2021) 53 3 144-154
  • Homer AR, Taylor FC, Dempsey PC, Wheeler MJ, Sethi P, Townsend MK, Grace MS, Green DJ, Cohen ND, Larsen RN, Kingwell BA, Owen N, Dunstan DW. Frequency of interruptions to sitting time: benefits for postprandial metabolism in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. (2021) accepted for publication 20 February 2021
  • Hallgren M., Nguyen, TT., Owen N., Vancampfort D., Smith L., Dunstan DW., Andersson G., Wallin,P., Ekblom-Bak E. Associations of interruptions to leisure-time sedentary behaviour with symptoms ofdepression and anxiety. Translational Psychiatry (2020) 10 1 128
  • Wheeler, M. J., Green, D. J., Ellis, K. A., Cerin, E., Heinonen, I., Naylor, L. H., Larsen, R., Wennberg, P., Boraxbekk, C. J., Lewis, J., Eikelis, N., Lautenschlager, N. T., , Kingwell, B. A., Lambert, G., Owen, N., Dunstan D. W. Distinct effects of acute exercise and breaks in sitting on working memory and executive function in older adults: a three-arm, randomised cross-over trial to evaluate the effects of exercise with and without breaks in sitting on cognition. British Journal of Sports Medicine (2020) 54 13 776-781
  • Taylor FT, Dunstan DW, Fletcher E, Townsend MK, Larsen RN, Rickards K, Maniar N, Buman M, Dempsey PC, Joham AE, Cohen N, Owen N, Moran LJ, Green DJ. Interrupting prolonged sitting and endothelial function in polycystic ovary syndrome. Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise. 2021; 53(3):479-486.
  • Pinto AJ, Dunstan DW, Owen N, Bonfa E, Gualano B.Combating physical inactivity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nature Reviews Rheumatology. 2020; 16(7):347-348
  • Hallgren M, Nguyen TTD , Owen N, Stubbs B, Vancampfort D, Lundin A, Dunstan DW, Bellocco R, Trolle Lagerros Y. Cross-sectional and prospective relationships of passive and mentally-active sedentary behaviours and physical activity with depression. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2019; 21:1-7
  • Owen N, Healy G. Dempsey PC, Salmon J, Timperio A, Clark B, Goode A, Koorts H, Ridgers ND, Hadgraft N, Lambert G, Eakin E, Kingwell BA, Dunstan DW. Sedentary behavior & public health: integrating the evidence and identifying potential solutions. Annual Review of Public Health. 2020; 41: 265-287.
  • Hallgren M, Dunstan DW, Owen N. Passive versus mentally-active sedentary behaviors and depression. Exercise and Sport Science Reviews. 2020; 48(1): 20-27.
  • Edwardson CL, Yates T, Biddle SJH, Davies MJ, Dunstan DW, Esliger DW, Gray LJ, Jackson B, O’Connell SE, Waheed G, Munir F. The effectiveness of the Stand More AT (SMArT) Work intervention: A cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2018; 363: k3870.
  • Wheeler MJ, Dunstan DW, Ellis KA, Cerin E, Phillips S, Lambert G, Naylor LH, Dempsey PC, Kingwell BA, Green DJ. Effect of morning exercise with or without breaks in prolonged sitting on blood pressure in older overweight/obese adults: evidence for sex differences. Hypertension. 2019; 73(4): 859-867.


  • National Health and Medical Research Council. Boosting Dementia Research Grants Scheme “Taking a whole of day approach to optimising activity to prevent dementia in people with type 2 diabetes” (Gardiner P, Dunstan D, Gray L, Owen N, Healy G, Comans T, Fjeldsoe B, Schaumberg M) $1,480,827.10 2020-2024 (APP1171759).
  • World Cancer Research Fund. “Preventing the adverse cardiometabolic consequences of allogeneic stem cell transplant with physical activity”. (Kingwell BK, La Gerche A, Dunstan DW, Avery S, Owen N, Howden E, Lynch BM) £349,985; 2019 -2022
  • GetAMoveOn ‘Rise and Recharge Collaboration’ (McNarry M, Dunstan D, Dempsey P, Owen N, Mackintosh K); £48,296.50; 2019.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council. Partnership Project “National implementation trial of an evidence-informed workplace sitting reduction intervention.” (Healy G, Eakin E, LaMontagne A, Moodie M, Straker L, Dunstan D, Owen N, Shilton T, Goode A, Gilson N) $615,952.25 2018-2020 (APP1149936).
  • Academy of Finland, Research Council for Biosciences, Health and Environment Grant: OPTIMUS: A randomized controlled trial to influence sustained glycaemic control by reducing muscle inactivity time in middle-aged and older office workers with type 2 diabetes (Pesola A, Brakenridge C, Finni TJ, Owen N, Dunstan DW, Healy GN; € 711,182; 2021-2024
  • National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant. Can Reducing Sitting Time Influence Sustained Glycaemic Control in Middle-Aged and Older Office Workers with Type 2 Diabetes? (Dunstan DW, Owen N, Eakin E, Biddle S, Healy G, Daly R, Green D, Moodie M, Winkler E, Cohen N); $1,367,212.80; 2018-2021 (APP1139974).

Accolades and awards

  • Top Ranked Vanguard Grant, National Heart Foundation (2014)
  • Identification of the therapeutic benefits of progressive resistance training in people with type 2 diabetes (Diabetes Care 2002; 2005; 2006)
  • Identification of detrimental associations between sedentary behaviour (including television viewing) and premature mortality (Circulation 2010) and cardio-metabolic biomarkers in adults (Diabetes Care 2004); first experimental evidence demonstrating an attenuation in postprandial glucose and insulin levels through the introduction of short activity breaks during prolonged sitting in overweight adults (Diabetes Care 2012).
  • Creator of the Lift for Life community-based strength program for Australians with or at risk of developing type 2 diabetes — research to practice initiative providing access to strength training throughout more than 60 facilities across Australia.
  • Highly cited epidemiological research reporting that sedentary behaviour is detrimentally associated with premature mortality and cardio-metabolic biomarkers has informed new guidelines/position stands of the UK Health Department, the American College of Sports Medicine, the Heart Foundation and the Preventative Health Task Force recommendations on the likely importance of reducing sedentary behaviour.
  • More than 60 invitations to speak and chair in international and national forums including: presentations at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions (2008), and presentations in Denmark, Slovenia, Finland and New Zealand. He also receives regular invitations to speak and chair nationally in the scientific meetings of Exercise Sports Science Australia, the Australian Lifestyle Medicine Association, the Heart Foundation and the Australian Diabetes Society.
  • Young Tall Poppy Science Award – Victoria 2007.

Appointments and affiliations

  • Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, ACU – Professorial Fellow
  • Head of the Physical Activity Laboratory, Baker Institute
  • NHMRC Senior Research Fellow

Editorial roles

  • 2019 – Current
    Editorial Board, International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity
  • 2012 – 2015
    Senior Associate Editor, Journal of Physical Activity and Health
  • 2007 - 2015
    Editorial Board, International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity

International journal review panel

Grant agency review panel

Public engagement


The logo of the ACU Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

Get in touch

Level 5, 215 Spring Street,
Melbourne, VIC, 3000

Connect with us

Chat with our team via social media.