Professor Clarke graduated from Massey University, New Zealand (B. Agric. Sci., 1971, followed by M. Agric. Sci. (1st Class) in reproductive physiology in 1973). He then obtained his PhD at Edinburgh University, Scotland in 1976, studying endocrinology and behaviour. He then moved to Australia and has been in Melbourne since 1977. He became a Senior Research Fellow of NHMRC in 1986, rising to Principal Research Fellow in 1991. He became Chairman, Department of Physiology, Monash University in 2007. Prof has published 430 research papers and has received The Woodward Prize for Excellence in Research in Neuroscience (1992), a Senior Fulbright Award (1997), the Asia and Oceania Medal of The Endocrine Society (United Kingdom) in 2001 and the TransPacific Lecturership, Endocrine Society (USA) in 2004. Most recently (2009), he was the recipient of The Geoffrey Harris Memorial Award of the International Federation of Neuroendocrinology (2009).
Prof Clarke's seminal studies on the measurement of hypothalamic secretion of GnRH in sentient animals were published in 1982 and he has contributed extensively to the field of reproductive neuroendocrinology for 35 years. His laboratory expanded to embrace all many other aspects of neuroendocrinology and he currently devotes 50% of his research effort to the study of brain mechanisms that regulate food intake and energy expenditure. There are two main divisions in Professor Clarke's laboratory; reproduction in association with Dr Jeremy Smith and metabolic Neuroendocrinology, in association with Dr Belinda Henry. In particular, his work has utilised sheep models, which allow a range of studies not easily undertaken in small laboratory species. He has developed a number of novel neuroendocrine methodologies that allow analysis ranging from the whole animal down to the single cell and subcellular function. These techniques have enabled a range of national and international collaborations, with grant funding from Australian and offshore sources.