Anatomy and human biology

Exploring what it means to be human

 Anatomy research investigates the structure, systems and functions of the body. Our researchers seek to obtain a holistic understanding of the human body by conducting integrated studies from cells and molecules to species and populations.

Human biology is a closely related discipline exploring what it means to be human in an integrative way. It combines studies of the biology and behaviour of human beings with current social and ethical issues.

UWA is ranked 13th in the world for Anatomy and Physiology (QS 2018).

Key research areas

At UWA, our researchers have access to high-quality facilities and industry collaborations which facilitate projects across eight broad areas:
Biological anthropology

Biological anthropology investigates how the biology and behaviour of humans are influenced by genetic, developmental, ecological and cultural factors. We focus on evolutionary principles as applied to human evolution, the behavioural ecology of primates, the process of gene-environment interaction during development, and the interplay of cultural and biological factors in human behaviour.

Key staff contacts

Cell and molecular biology

Research in cell biology looks at cellular and molecular networks, and the interactions underpinning human biology. This research helps us understand how our genetic information and signalling networks give rise to distinct cell types, and how our cells respond to environmental challenge, including disease states.

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Functional and clinical anatomy

This research explores human functional anatomy in relation to biomechanics and the constraints and opportunities provided by the human vertebrate heritage. To extend and deepen understanding of human morphology, our research examines aspects of human anatomy in great depth, helping integrate the understanding of other regions.

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Social inequality, policy innovation using health big data

Through the International Research Collaborative – Oral Health and Equity, cutting-edge R&D provides governments, universities and communities with strategies to address the needs of marginalised communities. Key issues include: health policy and strategy; accessibility; workforce: skills mix, education and distribution; and research oriented to healthcare needs and prevention. The team reaches to all continents, with its global hub situated in the school, and has some 150 fellows and students across the world working on diverse projects.

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Reproductive biology and endocrinology

Research in reproduction examines the impact and interaction of stress and nutritional factors on male and female fertility, placental function, foetal growth, pregnancy outcome and foetal programming of the adult phenotype.

Human studies centre on the use of assisted reproductive technology, particularly psychosocial and lifestyle factors influencing treatment outcome and issues surrounding the use of donated gametes and embryos.

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Sleep science

Sleep science research explores the causes of, and treatments for, sleep disorders including sleep apnoea and insomnia.

Research is undertaken at the Centre for Sleep Science, University's purpose-built sleep training and research facility, in collaboration with the West Australian Sleep Disorders Research Institute at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

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Biological Arts

SymbioticA is an artistic laboratory dedicated to the research, learning, critique and hands-on engagement with the life sciences. SymbioticA is the first research laboratory of its kind, enabling artists and researchers to engage in wet biology practices in a biological science department.

It offers a new means of artistic and cultural inquiry, where artists use the tools and technologies of science, not just to comment about them, but to explore their possibilities. It also hosts residents, workshops, exhibitions and symposia.

Key staff contacts




The School of Human Sciences is home to a range of facilities which support world-class research and teaching activities.


We collaborate with industry, government and other universities to achieve real-world applications for our research.

International Research Collaborative –
Oral Health and Equity (

The develops innovative solutions in health education, research and service to address the global challenges in social inequities.

The focus is to provide world-class R&D, facilitate improved health in societies across the world, and address the needs of marginalised communities. Its team of 150 fellows, students and collaborators work through ten international regional hubs to advance the joint agenda of equity for all.

Key issues it addresses include health policy and strategy; accessibility; workforce: skills mix, education and distribution; and research oriented to health care needs and prevention.

Doctor using stethoscope on patient

Postgraduate courses


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