Head of laboratory
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Dr Witting's research interest is in exploring the relationship between oxidative stress and the evolution of tissue damage in the acute setting of stroke and myocardial infarct. He is also collaborating with clinicians in the Concord Hospital Burn Unit as he examines the relationship between severe burn and acute renal failure.
Cardiovascular disease is increasingly the single greatest cause of mortality and morbidity in the Western world. The main research thrust of the Redox Biology Group involves design and testing of potential (synthetic antioxidant) inhibitors of damage to myocardial and neuronal tissues in the setting of acute heart or brain attack (stroke). This area research has gained momentum with the collaboration of a synthetic organic chemist from the United States (A/ Prof. Brian Salvatore) who has synthesized a series of analogues derived from a lead compound identified by Dr Witting and his research team. These analogues are now being tested for their cardio- and neuro-protective efficacy in relevant animal models of acute disease.
In another theme area of research, Dr Witting has rekindled close links with his former mentor Professor Peter Lay in the School of Chemistry. Here the researchers are collaborating on the use of synchrotron radiation to determine changes in the cellular composition of metal ions by comparing normal cells derived from the heart or brain with those challenged by experimental ischemia reperfusion injury to simulate heart attack or stroke, respectively. Other collaborations include working closely with Associate Professor John Wheatley (Respiratory Medicine and Sleep Disorders, Westmead Hospital) and Associate Professor Qihan Dong (Cancer Genetics Group, Bosch Institute, The University of Sydney).
The laboratory has gained funding from a variety of sources including philanthropic Foundations, mainstream government bodies such as the ARC, Diabetes Australia, the National Heart Foundation of Australia and Industry (Eli Lilly). Importantly, the lab continues to support young undergraduate and postgraduate researchers and the mixture of senior staff, research assistants and students makes for an ideal training base for young researchers. In 2007, Mr Shane Antao (Honours student) was awarded the Concord Hospital Basic Science award, and he also received Nationally competitive Travel and Best Poster awards from the Australian Atherosclerosis Society. In addition, Ms Elicia Rodas (2008 summer student) was awarded equal second place in The University of Sydney (Medical Faculty) Dean's Award for best summer project.