Vita Birzniece

Senior Lecturer

Vita Birzniece, MD, PhD is a Senior Lecturer at SoMS UNSW Sydney, Honorary clinical researcher at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Honorary Medical Officer at Blacktown Hospital, and Senior Lecturer (conjoint) in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Western Sydney University. Dr Birzniece is also a core member of Translational Health Research Institute.

She received PhD in neuroendocrinology in 2004 from the Umea University, Sweden. Over the last 14 years, her research has focused on determining how fat and protein metabolism, body composition and physical function is regulated by hormones. Her ability to design, co-ordinate and complete high quality research is demonstrated by nearly 40 peer reviewed scientific publications, with more than 100 citations for many papers (Google Scholar, h-index 20, i10-index 25), published in top ranked journals like Annals of Internal Medicine and JCEM, the primary clinically-oriented research journal of the US Endocrine Society. According to Expertscape, she is ranked as the Top 2 expert on 'Growth hormone' in Australia (Global Rank 36), and Top 17 expert on 'Androgens'.

Since 2005 she has played a central role in conducting metabolic research at the Garvan Institute and the Department of Endocrinology, St Vincent’s Hospital, NSW. From 2011-2013 Dr Birzniece has been in charge of a research laboratory at the Garvan Institute. In 2013 she was appointed as Senior Lecturer, Endocrinology and Metabolism, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University where she established a Metabolic Research Unit at the WSU Clinical School and Research Centre. Dr Birzniece leads the Metabolic Research Unit, equipped to perform a wide range of body composition, energy expenditure, substrate utilization, physical capacity, muscle strength, and balance assessments. State-of-the-art techniques are implemented using stable isotopes to investigate whole body protein metabolism, hepatic VLDL, and urea turnover. Her laboratory is the only one in Australia to have these stable isotope techniques for assessment of various aspects of metabolism in humans. She has conducted investigator-initiated clinical studies and have been responsible for the design, study visit conduct, analysis and finding dissemination for more than 15 clinical trials. She leads a multicentre project implementing resistance training and diabetes drugs to suppress cancer progression. Currently she is the coordinating principle investigator of a newly established multicentre program of lifestyle and surgical therapy for management of obesity and obesity-related diseases at Blacktown Hospital. The focus is to establish a network of collaborative projects in endocrine, metabolic and cancer research, integrating oncology and obesity/diabetes at UNSW, WSU and WSLHD. In May 2019 she was appointed as Senior Lecturer at SoMS, UNSW Sydney.

Journal articles
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Lam T; Birzniece V; McLean M; Gurney H; Hayden A; Cheema BS, 2020, 'The Adverse Effects of Androgen Deprivation Therapy in Prostate Cancer and the Benefits and Potential Anti-oncogenic Mechanisms of Progressive Resistance Training', Sports Medicine - Open, vol. 6, http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40798-020-0242-8
2020
Birzniece V, 2019, 'Exercise and the growth hormone–insulin-like growth factor axis', Current Opinion in Endocrine and Metabolic Research, vol. 9, pp. 1 - 7, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.coemr.2019.04.006
2019
Birzniece V; McLean M; Reddy N; Ho KKY, 2019, 'Disparate Effect of Aromatization on the Central Regulation of GH Secretion by Estrogens in Men and Postmenopausal Women', Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 104, pp. 2978 - 2984, http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2019-00265
2019
Lam T; McLean M; Hayden A; Poljak A; Cheema B; Gurney H; Stone G; Bahl N; Reddy N; Shahidipour H; Birzniece V, 2019, 'A potent liver-mediated mechanism for loss of muscle mass during androgen deprivation therapy', Endocrine Connections, vol. 8, pp. 605 - 615, http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/EC-19-0179
2019
Birzniece V, 2018, 'Hepatic actions of androgens in the regulation of metabolism', Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity, vol. 25, pp. 201 - 208, http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/MED.0000000000000405
2018
Bahl N; Stone G; McLean M; Ho KKY; Birzniece V, 2018, 'Decorin, a growth hormone-regulated protein in humans', European Journal of Endocrinology, vol. 178, pp. 145 - 152, http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/EJE-17-0844
2018
Bahl N; Stone G; Meinhardt U; Nelson AE; McLean M; Ho KKY; Birzniece V, 2017, 'Growth hormone increases serum levels of decorin in healthy recreational athletes', CLINICAL ENDOCRINOLOGY, vol. 86, pp. 19 - 19, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000393453600050&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
2017
Lam T; McLean M; Bahl N; Poljak A; Ho KKY; Birzniece V, 2017, 'Testosterone prevents protein loss via the hepatic urea cycle', CLINICAL ENDOCRINOLOGY, vol. 86, pp. 14 - 14, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000393453600038&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
2017
Lam T; Poljak A; McLean M; Bahl N; Ho KKY; Birzniece V, 2017, 'Testosterone prevents protein loss via the hepatic urea cycle in human', European Journal of Endocrinology, vol. 176, pp. 489 - 496, http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/EJE-16-0868
2017
Birzniece V; Barrett PHR; Ho KKY, 2017, 'Tamoxifen reduces hepatic VLDL production and GH secretion in women: A possible mechanism for steatosis development', European Journal of Endocrinology, vol. 177, pp. 137 - 143, http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/EJE-17-0151
2017
Tan SH; Lee A; Pascovici D; Care N; Birzniece V; Ho K; Molloy MP; Khan A, 2017, 'Plasma biomarker proteins for detection of human growth hormone administration in athletes', Scientific Reports, vol. 7, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-09968-7
2017
Birzniece V; Ho KKY, 2017, 'Sex steroids and the GH axis: Implications for the management of hypopituitarism', Best Practice and Research: Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 31, pp. 59 - 69, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beem.2017.03.003
2017
Lee P; Birzniece V; Umpleby AM; Poljak A; Ho KKY, 2015, 'Formoterol, a highly β2-selective agonist, induces gender-dimorphic whole body leucine metabolism in humans', Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, vol. 64, pp. 506 - 512, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2014.12.005
2015
Birzniece V; Ho KKY, 2015, 'Estrogen receptor antagonism uncovers gender-dimorphic suppression of whole body fat oxidation in humans: Differential effects of tamoxifen on the GH and gonadal axes', European Journal of Endocrinology, vol. 173, pp. 479 - 487, http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/EJE-15-0426
2015
Birzniece V; Khaw CH; Nelson AE; Meinhardt U; Ho KKY, 2015, 'A critical evaluation of bioimpedance spectroscopy analysis in estimating body composition during GH treatment: Comparison with bromide dilution and dual X-ray absorptiometry', European Journal of Endocrinology, vol. 172, pp. 21 - 28, http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/EJE-14-0660
2015
Birzniece V, 2015, 'Doping in sport: Effects, harm and misconceptions', Internal Medicine Journal, vol. 45, pp. 239 - 248, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/imj.12629
2015
Birzniece V; Magnusson NE; Ho KKY; Frystyk J, 2014, 'Effects of raloxifene and estrogen on bioactive IGF1 in GH-deficient women', European Journal of Endocrinology, vol. 170, pp. 375 - 383, http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/EJE-13-0835
2014
Birzniece V, 2013, 'Gonadal steroids and body composition, strength, and sexual function in men [1]', New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 369, pp. 2455 - 2457, http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMc1313169
2013
Finkelstein JS; Yu EW; Burnett-Bowie S-AM, 2013, 'Gonadal steroids and body composition, strength, and sexual function in men.', N Engl J Med, vol. 369, pp. 2457, http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMc1313169
2013
Birzniece V; Umpleby MA; Poljak A; Handelsman DJ; Ho KKY, 2013, 'Oral low-dose testosterone administration induces whole-body protein anabolism in postmenopausal women: A novel liver-targeted therapy', European Journal of Endocrinology, vol. 169, pp. 321 - 327, http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/EJE-13-0406
2013
Birzniece V; Sutanto S; Ho KK, 2012, 'Gender difference in the neuroendocrine regulation of growth hormone axis by selective estrogen receptor modulators', Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 97, pp. E521 - E527, http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2011-3347
2012
Birzniece V; Ho KK, 2012, 'Growth and development: Patching up a better pill for GH-deficient women', Nature Reviews. Endocrinology, vol. 8, pp. 197 - 198, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nrendo.2012.9
2012
Birzniece V; Meinhardt UJ; Gibney J; Johannsson G; Armstrong N; Baxter RC; Ho KK, 2012, 'Differential effects of raloxifene and estrogen on body composition in growth hormone-replaced hypopituitary women', Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 97, pp. 1005 - 1012, http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2011-2837
2012
Zhao JT; Cowley MJ; Lee P; Birzniece V; Kaplan W; Ho KK, 2011, 'Identification of novel GH-regulated pathway of lipid metabolism in adipose tissue: A gene expression study in hypopituitary men', Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 96, pp. E1188 - E1196, http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2010-2679
2011
Birzniece V; Nelson AE; Ho KK, 2011, 'Growth hormone and physical performance', Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 22, pp. 171 - 178, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tem.2011.02.005
2011
Birzniece V; Meinhardt U; Umpleby M; Handelsman D; Ho KK, 2011, 'Interaction between testosterone and growth hormone on whole-body protein anabolism occurs in the liver', Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 96, pp. 1060 - 1067, http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2010-2521
2011
Meinhardt U; Nelson AE; Hansen J; Birzniece V; Clifford D; Leung K; Graham K; Ho KK, 2010, 'The effects of growth hormone on body composition and physical performance in recreational athletes: a randomized trial', Annals of Internal Medicine, vol. 152, pp. 568 - 577, http://dx.doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-152-9-201005040-00007
2010
Birzniece V; Sata A; Sutanto S; Ho KK, 2010, 'Neuroendocrine regulation of growth hormone and androgen axes by selective estrogen receptor modulators in healthy men', Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 95, pp. 5443 - 5448, http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2010-1477
2010
Birzniece V; Meinhardt U; Gibney J; Johannsson G; Baxter R; Seibel MJ; Ho KK, 2010, 'Modulatory effect of raloxifene and estrogen on the metabolic action of growth hormone in hypopituitary women', Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 95, pp. 2099 - 2106, http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2009-2743
2010
Birzniece V; Nelson AE; Ho KK, 2010, 'Growth hormone administration: is it safe and effective for athletic performance', Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America, vol. 39, pp. 11 - 23, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecl.2009.10.007
2010
Birzniece V; Sata A; Sutanto S; Ho KK, 2010, 'Paracrine regulation of growth hormone secretion by estrogen in women', Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol. 95, pp. 3771 - 3776, http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2010-0476
2010
Birzniece V; Sata A; Ho K, 2009, 'Growth hormone receptor modulators', Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders, vol. 10, pp. 145 - 156, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11154-008-9089-x
2009
Birzniece V; Meinhardt U; Handelsman D; Ho K, 2009, 'Testosterone stimulates extra-hepatic but not hepatic fat oxidation (Fox): Comparison of oral and transdermal testosterone administration in hypopituitary men', Clinical Endocrinology, vol. 71, pp. 715 - 721, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2265.2009.03524.x
2009
Türkmen S; Löfgren M; Birzniece V; Bäckström T; Johansson IM, 2006, 'Tolerance development to Morris water maze test impairments induced by acute allopregnanolone', Neuroscience, vol. 139, pp. 651 - 659, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2005.12.031
2006
Birzniece V; Bäckström T; Johansson IM; Lindblad C; Lundgren P; Löfgren M; Olsson T; Ragagnin G; Taube M; Turkmen S; Wahlström G; Wang MD; Wihlbäck AC; Zhu D, 2006, 'Neuroactive steroid effects on cognitive functions with a focus on the serotonin and GABA systems', Brain Research Reviews, vol. 51, pp. 212 - 239, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainresrev.2005.11.001
2006
Birzniece V; Türkmen S; Lindblad C; Zhu D; Johansson IM; Bäckström T; Wahlström G, 2006, 'GABAA receptor changes in acute allopregnanolone tolerance', European Journal of Pharmacology, vol. 535, pp. 125 - 134, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2006.01.059
2006
Turkmen S; Lundgren P; Birzniece V; Zingmark E; Backstrom T; Johansson IM, 2004, '3β-20β-dihydroxy-5α-pregnane (UC1011) antagonism of the GABA potentiation and the learning impairment induced in rats by allopregnanolone', European Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 20, pp. 1604 - 1612, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-9568.2004.03610.x
2004
Zhu D; Birzniece V; Bäckström T; Wahlström G, 2004, 'Dynamic aspects of acute tolerance to allopregnanolone evaluated using anaesthesia threshold in male rats', British Journal of Anaesthesia, vol. 93, pp. 560 - 567, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bja/aeh233
2004
Bäckström T; Andreen L; Birzniece V; Björn I; Johansson IM; Nordenstam-Haghjo M; Nyberg S; Sundström-Poromaa I; Wahlström G; Wang M; Zhu D, 2003, 'The role of hormones and hormonal treatments in premenstrual syndrome', CNS Drugs, vol. 17, pp. 325 - 342, http://dx.doi.org/10.2165/00023210-200317050-00003
2003
Bäckström T; Andersson A; Andreé L; Birzniece V; Bixo M; Björn I; Haage D; Isaksson M; Johansson IM; Lindblad C; Lundgren P; Nyberg S; Ödmark IS; Strömberg J; Sundström-Poromaa I; Turkmen S; Wahlström G; Wang M; Wihlbäck AC; Zhu D; Zingmark E, 2003, 'Pathogenesis in Menstrual Cycle-Linked CNS Disorders', Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 1007, pp. 42 - 53, http://dx.doi.org/10.1196/annals.1286.005
2003
Johansson IM; Birzniece V; Lindblad C; Olsson T; Bäckström T, 2002, 'Allopregnanolone inhibits learning in the Morris water maze', Brain Research, vol. 934, pp. 125 - 131, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0006-8993(02)02414-9
2002
Birzniece V; Johansson IM; Wang MD; Bäckström T; Olsson T, 2002, 'Ovarian hormone effects on 5-hydroxytryptamine2A and 5-hydroxytryptamine2C receptor mRNA expression in the ventral hippocampus and frontal cortex of female rats', Neuroscience Letters, vol. 319, pp. 157 - 161, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0304-3940(01)02570-8
2002
Birzniece V; Johansson IM; Wang MD; Seckl JR; Bäckström T; Olsson T, 2001, 'Serotonin 5-HT1A receptor mRNA expression in dorsal hippocampus and raphe nuclei after gonadal hormone manipulation in female rats', Neuroendocrinology, vol. 74, pp. 135 - 142, http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000054679
2001
Conference Papers
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Lam T; Cheema B; Hayden A; Gurney H; Gounden S; Reddy N; Stone G; Mclean M; Birzniece V, 2017, 'ADT in Prostate Cancer Patients: Prevention of Adverse Effects using a 6-Month Home-Based Progressive Resistance Training Program', in ASIA-PACIFIC JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY, WILEY, pp. 125 - 126, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000413954500168&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a
2017
Khaw CH; Birzniece V; Meinhardt U; Nelson AE; Ho KKY, 2010, 'Validation of Multi-Frequency Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (MFBIA) for Measurements of Body Composition: A Study of Growth Hormone and Testosterone Administration in Healthy Adults.', in ENDOCRINE REVIEWS, ENDOCRINE SOC, San Diego, CA, presented at 92nd Meeting and Expo of the Endocrine Society (ENDO 2010), San Diego, CA, 19 June 2010 - 22 June 2010, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000281989402346&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
2010
Birzniece V; Meinhardt UJ; Handelsman DJ; Ho KKY, 2010, 'Interaction between Testosterone and Growth Hormone on Whole Body Protein Anabolism Is Mediated through the Liver.', in ENDOCRINE REVIEWS, ENDOCRINE SOC, San Diego, CA, presented at 92nd Meeting and Expo of the Endocrine Society (ENDO 2010), San Diego, CA, 19 June 2010 - 22 June 2010, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000281989402334&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
2010
Birzniece V; Sata A; Sutanto S; Ho KKY, 2010, 'Evidence for a Paracrine Mechanism in the Central Regulation of GH Secretion by Estrogen in Women', in ENDOCRINE REVIEWS, ENDOCRINE SOC, San Diego, CA, pp. S1695 - S1695, presented at 92nd Meeting and Expo of the Endocrine Society (ENDO 2010), San Diego, CA, 19 June 2010 - 22 June 2010, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000281989400148&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
2010
Zhao JT; Cowley MJ; Lee P; Birzniece V; Kaplan W; Ho KKY, 2010, 'Growth Hormone Regulation of Lipid Metabolism in Adipose Tissue: A Microarray Analysis in Hypopituitary Men.', in ENDOCRINE REVIEWS, ENDOCRINE SOC, San Diego, CA, pp. S2491 - S2491, presented at 92nd Meeting and Expo of the Endocrine Society (ENDO 2010), San Diego, CA, 19 June 2010 - 22 June 2010, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000281989400198&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
2010
Conference Abstracts
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Birzniece V; Barrett H; Ho KKY, 2015, 'Tamoxifen reduces hepatic VLDL production in women: a possible GH-mediated mechanism for the development of fatty liver', in CLINICAL ENDOCRINOLOGY, WILEY, Adelaide, AUSTRALIA, Vol. 84, pp. 31 - 32, presented at Annual Scientific Meeting of the Endocrine-Society-of-Australia, Adelaide, AUSTRALIA, 23 August 2015 - 26 August 2015, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000372310400087&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
2015
Book Chapters
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Nelson AE; Ho K; Birzniece V, 2011, 'Growth Hormone in Sports: Is There Evidence of Benefit?', in Ho K (ed.), GROWTH HORMONE RELATED DISEASES AND THERAPY: A MOLECULAR AND PHYSIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE FOR THE CLINICIAN, edn. Contemporary Endocrinology, HUMANA PRESS INC, pp. 389 - 404, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-60761-317-6_20
2011
Bückström T; Birzniece V; Fernández G; Johansson IM; Kask K; Lindblad C; Lundgren P; Nyberg S; Ragagnin G; Sundström-Poromaa I; Strömberg J; Turkmen S; Wang MD; Van Broekhoven F; Van Wingen G, 2008, 'Neuroactive steroids: Effects on cognitive functions', in Neuroactive Steroids in Brain Function, Behavior and Neuropsychiatric Disorders: Novel Strategies for Research and Treatment, pp. 103 - 121, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6854-6_5
2008

Women in Endocrinology Young Investigator Award (2009), Novo Nordisk New Investigator Award (2009), Outstanding Abstract Award from the US Endocrine Society (2010), US Endocrine Society Trainee (2008) and Presidential (2010) poster competitions.

  • A sole CI NHMRC project. Novel interplay of hormones in regulating fat metabolism GNT1064365; 2014-2017; $650,892.

  • Collaborative grant Department of Oncology Westmead Hospital; Novel mechanisms of metabolic derangements during testosterone withdrawal and role of exercise in preventing adverse health outcomes in prostate cancer. 2017; CIA; $25,000.

  • WSLHD REN grant; Mechanisms and Novel Markers of the Anti-Neoplastic Effect of Metformin in Prostate Cancer; 2017-2018; CIA; $50,000.