Research Network for Metals in Medicine



Professor John Olynyk


Position: Professor in Gastroenterology, Fremantle Hospital

Affiliation: Fremantle Hospital

Postal Address:
PO Box 480
Western Australia 6959

Phone: +61 (08) 9431 3227

Research Profile

Professor John Olynyk has been a senior Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist at The University of Western Australia Department of Medicine, Fremantle Hospital since 1994. He has successfully developed major research programs in the following areas (1) pathogenesis of iron related liver disease, (2) role of oval cells in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma and (3) colorectal cancer screening. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers in journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine, PNAS, American Journal of Pathology, Hepatology, and Gastroenterology. He has been the recipient of grants from the Raine Medical Research Foundation, Cancer Foundation of WA, Ramaciotti Foundation, Brewer’s Foundation, Lotteries Commission of WA, Western Australian Institute of Medical Research, Fremantle Hospital Medical Research Foundation and currently holds five NHMRC project grants and a recently awarded NIH grant. He has five PhD students in collaboration with A/Prof George Yeoh and Dr. Debbie Trinder. The colorectal cancer research program is funded through the Health Department of Western Australia and is the principal Australian site investigating the utility of flexible sigmoidoscopy screening for colorectal cancer. Seven major publications in the Medical Journal of Australia and Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology have resulted from this research program. He has been an invited speaker at many conferences including the Cradle Mountain Hepatology Workshop 1997, Asian-Pacific Association for the Study of Liver 1998, Japanese Iron Club 1999, Gastroenterological Society of Australia Annual Meeting 2000, Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand 2001. He has been invited to speak on the Australian Healthcare System in North America (on behalf of the Australian Education Office) and on “Hereditary Haemochromatosis” at the Royal Australian College of Physicians Scientific Meeting in 1999, Haematology Society of Australia & New Zealand 2001, Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia 2004. He was visiting Professor of Gastroenterology to the University of Adelaide in 2002 and The Mayo Clinic, Rochester MN 2003. He is a member of the Western Australian liver transplant program and is an active transplant Hepatologist. He provides general gastroenterological services to Fremantle Hospital and teaches medical students.

Selected Publications

  1. Gochee P, Powell LW, Cullen DJ, Du Sart D, Rossie E and Olynyk JK. A population based study of the biochemical and clinical expression of the H63D haemochromatosis mutation. Gastroenterology 2002;122: 646-651.
  2. Trinder D, Fox C, Vautier G and Olynyk JK. Molecular pathogenesis of iron overload. Gut 2002;2:290-295.
  3. Griffiths A and Olynyk JK. Hepatitis C and iron. American Journal of Gastroenterology 2002;97:788-790.
  4. Olynyk JK, Khan NA, Brown KE, O’Neill R, Britton RS and Bacon BR. Aldehydic products of lipid peroxidation do not directly activate rat hepatic stellate cells. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2002;17:785-790.
  5. Trinder D, Olynyk JK, Sly WS and Morgan EH. Iron uptake from plasma transferrin by the duodenum is impaired in the HFE knockout mouse. PNAS 2002;99:5622-5626.
  6. Sherrington CA and Olynyk JK. Iron as a cofactor in chronic hepatitis C infection. Liver 2002;22:187-9.
  7. Fox CJ, Cullen DJ, Knuiman MW, Rossi E, Gochee PA, Powell LW and Olynyk JK. A population study on the effects of iron and hemochromatosis genotypes on coronary -heart disease outcomes. Journal of Cardiovascular Risk 2002;9:287-293.
  8. Knuimann MW, Divitini ML, Olynyk JK, Cullen DJ and Bartholomew HC. Serum ferritin is not an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease: A 17-year follow-up study in Busselton, Western Australia. American Journal of Epidemiology 2003;158:144-49.
  9. Fortun PJ, Griffiths A and Olynyk JK. African-American iron overload: Ironing out the issues. American Journal of Gastroenterology 2003;98:1456-58.
  10. Olynyk JK, Hagan SE, Dullen DJ, Beilby J, Whittall DE. A 17 year study of the evolution of untreated hereditary hemochromatosis in the Busselton population. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2004 (in press).
  11. Galhenage SP, Viiala CH and Olynyk JK. Screening for haemochromatosis: patients with liver disease, families, population studies. Current Gastroenterology Reports 2004;6:44-51.


The School has a suite of new PC2 research laboratories at our Fremantle Campus together with facilities for animal work, cell culture, molecular biology, immunohistochemistry, and radio-isotope work. A new on-site animal facility was completed in 2000. All the studies described in our currently funded grants are conducted in our laboratories at the Fremantle Campus. We also have access to the laboratory facilities of collaborators on the main university campus in Nedlands.

I am a member of the board and scientific committee of the Busselton Medical Research Foundation. Through this linkage and my previous work with the Busselton Population Research Foundation I have ready access to clinical and laboratory information of the numerous Busselton Population Studies. Archival blood and DNA samples are also accessible for research projects approved by the Busselton Medical Research Foundation Board and Scientific Committee.

International Linkages

Professor Bruce Bacon (St. Louis University)
Professor Robert Britton (St. Louis University)
Professor William Sly (St. Louis University)
Associate Professor Brent Tetri (St. Louis University)
Associate Professor Robert Fleming (St. Louis University)
Professor Robert Carrithers (Washington University, Seattle, WA)