Congratulations to Ana Domingos, who has been awarded the title of Professor of Neuroscience.
The Domingos laboratory researches neuroimmune mechanisms underlying obesity. The lab discovered the sympathetic neuro-adipose junction, a functional synapse-like connection between white adipocytes and the sympathetic nervous system. They discovered that this neuro-adipose junction is necessary and sufficient for fat mass reduction via norepinephrine (NE) signaling. They went onto discover Sympathetic neuron-Associated Macrophages (SAMs) that directly import and metabolize NE. Abrogation of SAM function promotes long-term amelioration of obesity independently of food intake. These findings inspired the development of a new class of anti-obesity compounds named sympathofacilitators, which do not enter the brain, nor have the typical cardiovascular side effects of centrally acting sympathomimetic drugs. Sympathofacilitator drugs act as an energy sink by coupling thermogenesis to active heat dissipation.
In April 2022, Professor Domingos was awarded the very prestigious 2023 Carl Ludwig Distinguished Lectureship Award from the American Physiological Society.
On receipt of her award, Professor Domingos said: "I am thrilled to be awarded with the title of full Professor. I owe it to a vast network of scientists and colleagues around the world who recognise the value of my laboratory's discoveries. I owe it to the lab members who made those discoveries whilst fiercely sailing towards the unknown enduring the stormy waters of the recent lockdown. Lastly, I am grateful to my family for their unconditional support."
Congratulations to Nicola Smart, who has been awarded the title of Professor of Cardiovascular Science.
Research in the Smart Lab has uncovered new therapeutic targets for vascular protection and cardiac regeneration by revealing new insights into how the cardiovascular system forms in the embryo. In one line of research, the lab demonstrated that developmental mechanisms of coronary vessel growth are partially recapitulated in the adult heart after injury. By identifying critical stimuli, such as Thymosin b4, that drive these processes, Smart lab research has revealed the ability to recapture the “embryonic potential” within the adult heart for repair after heart attack. They have also shown that the mechanisms used to promote the formation of stable, smooth muscle-lined vessels in the embryo crucially serve to protect throughout life against diseases, such as atherosclerosis and aortic aneurysm. This led Smart lab researchers to identify a novel regulatory pathway (Thymosin b4 - Filamin A - LRP1) controlling smooth muscle cell behaviour, which may in future be targeted to offer much-needed treatments for vascular disease.
The professorship follows her appointment to the Associate Professorship of Cellular and Integrative Physiology in May 2022.
On receipt of her award, Professor Smart said: “I’m truly honoured and overjoyed to receive this recognition. In large part, it reflects the achievements of the fantastic team of scientists that I’ve been fortunate to work with over the years – they are a constant source of inspiration! Thanks are also due to the many mentors and colleagues who have supported me through the highs and lows to reach this milestone.”