Head of laboratory
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Our research focuses on the hardening of blood vessels (a process also call atherosclerosis) that is the single major cause of heart attacks and stroke, and hence death, in Australia. We study the contribution of two processes (oxidation and inflammation) to atherosclerosis, and how the disease can be inhibited. We have identified a protein, the up-regulation of which affords anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory protection that translates into inhibition of disease in several animal models. We also have identified a novel class of molecules that regulate the activity of this protective protein. We are now in the exciting phase of developing these molecules, in collaboration with a commercial partner, as potential novel drugs against heart disease. If successful, our research could have a major impact on health in Australia.
- A major focus of our work is increasing existing knowledge on HO-1 biology, at the cellular, tissue, and whole body level. The aim is to better understand how induction of the enzyme results in so many different biological benefits, including anti-inflammatory activity, increased protection provided to the endothelium against injury and dysfunction, and the control of cell growth. An immerging interest of our group is the role of HO 1 in diabetes.
- We continue studying the regulation and biological function of the enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), with a particular focus on its role in the vasculature under conditions of inflammation and oxidative stress, including cardiovascular diseases.
- We are assessing the utility of a recently generated monoclonal antibody that recognizes oxidized high-density lipoprotein as a diagnostic for cardiovascular disease.
- We are developing analytical tools to assess the occurrence of oxidative processes in different cellular compartments and quantify their contribution to cellular functions.