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Dr Gemma Brierley

Faculty of Science and Engineering
Life Sciences
Research Supervision:

Gemma joined ARU in 2021 as a Lecturer in Biomedical Science. Gemma’s research focuses on insulin resistance and investigating the therapeutic potential of antibodies to treat severe insulin resistance arising from mutations of the insulin receptor.

Her wider interest encompasses understanding the (patho)physiological role of hybrid insulin/IGF receptors in insulin resistance and resultant co-morbidities.

[email protected]


Gemma completed her PhD at the University of Adelaide, Australia (including a sabbatical at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford) where she investigated the interplay between insulin and IGF receptors and how they signal outcomes relevant to cancer biology.

She was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in South Australia where she worked on a varied and commercially orientated body of work relating to improving early detection and diagnosis of colorectal cancer.

Gemma then moved to the UK to undertake a second postdoctoral position at the University of Cambridge, Wellcome Trust – MRC Institute of Metabolic Science (where she maintains Visiting Scientist status) during which she expanded her understanding of the insulin/IGF system from its role in cancer biology to its role in metabolism.

Gemma is a member of the Biomedical Research Group.

Research interests
  • Insulin resistance
  • Novel antibody therapeutics
  • Insulin/IGF hybrid receptors
  • Genomic code expansion
  • Live-cell imaging
  • Antibody engineering
Areas of research supervision
  • Insulin resistance
  • Novel antibody therapeutics
  • Insulin/IGF hybrid receptors
  • Genomic code expansion
  • Live-cell imaging
  • Antibody engineering

Biomedical Science BSc (Hons)

Module leader:

  • Introduction to Cell Biology and Biochemistry


  • Introduction to Cell Biology and Biochemistry
  • Current Advances in Biomedical Science


  • Preparation for Research
  • Undergraduate Research Project

Bioinformatics BSc (Hons)

Module leader & lecturer:

  • Foundations of Cell Biology
  • Introduction of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Applied Bioscience MSc


  • Masters Research Project

PhD, Biochemistry. University of Adelaide, Australia (2008)
BSc Hons (First Class). University of Adelaide, Australia (2003)
BSc. University of Adelaide, Australia. (2002)

Memberships, editorial boards

Fellow: Diabetes UK Innovators in Diabetes programme (2018 – 2021)

Fellow: Emerging Research Leaders Development Programme, University of Cambridge (2018)

Postdoctoral By-fellow: Churchill College, University of Cambridge (2017 – 2019)

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange
  • Principal Investigator: Diabetes UK Project Grant 2023 – 2028 (£435,340)
  • Principal Investigator: ARU Research Development Support Grant, 2022 – 2023 (£10,000)
  • Principal Investigator: MRL-IMS Directors Collaborative Award, University of Cambridge 2020 (£7,100)
  • Principal Investigator: Cambridge Philosophical Society Grant: COVID-19 response 2020 (£17,610)
  • Principal Investigator: Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation Pump Priming Grant 2015 (£20,000)
  • Named Postdoctoral Investigator: Diabetes UK Project Grant 2015 (£280,360)
Selected recent publications

Brierley, G.V. and Semple, R. K. 2021. Insulin at 100 years – is rebalancing its action key to fighting obesity-related disease? Dis Model Mech. 14(11):dmm049340

Gage, M.C., Harrington, D., Brierley, G.V., et al. 2021. Challenges and solutions for diabetes early career researchers in the COVID-19 recovery: Perspectives of the Diabetes UK Innovators in Diabetes. Diabet Med. Sep 25:e14698

Hammerle, C.M., Sandovici, I., Brierley, G.V., et al. 2020. Mesenchyme-derived IGF2 is a major paracrine regulator of pancreatic growth and function. PLoS Genetics. 16(10):e1009069

Brierley, G.V., et al., 2020. Anti-Insulin receptor antibodies improve hyperglycemia in a mouse model of human insulin receptoropathy. Diabetes. 69(11): 2481 – 2489

Brierley, G.V., Siddle, K., and Semple, R.K., 2018. Evaluation of anti-insulin receptor antibodies as potential novel therapies for human insulin receptoropathy using cell culture models. Diabetologia. 61(7): 1662 - 1675