I am interested in studying developmental biology for both basic scientific research and as a potential tool for regenerative medicine. This may involve animal models as well as cell and tissue culture methods. My research project focuses on the time-limited regenerative window for the mammalian heart, and how it may be extended and/or reactivated to boost recovery after myocardial infarction (MI) in adults.
Heart and circulatory diseases cause more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK, that’s nearly 170,000 deaths each year – an average of 460 deaths each day or one every 3 minutes. Due to improved medical intervention and after-care, more people are surviving the initial MI incident, but that means there are approximately 7 million people living with damaged hearts. This damage is permanent as heart tissue doesn't recover or regenerate sufficiently to compensate for the loss of billions of cardiomyocytes that occurs during an ischaemic incident, and the only "cure" currently available is a transplant. These are obviously in very limited supply, so a far better solution would be to induce functional recovery in the patient's own heart tissue.
By studying the details of growth and development of the neonatal mouse heart during the first week after birth, I hope to gain clues as to how to make this happen: many changes occur during these first 7 days including a switch from a hypoxic embryonic/foetal environment to a normoxic one, from glycolysis to fatty acid metabolism to facilitate the increased energy demands of the growing and maturing heart, genetic/epigenetic changes in many different cell types within the myocardium, and most significantly, the withdrawal of the cardiomyocytes from the cell cycle. My research on this last factor may be useful to be able to "turn the cell cycle back on" in the nearby cardiomyocytes after injury and thus "regrow" new heart cells to replace those permanently damaged.
Prior to becoming a full time DPhil student, I was the Senior Research Technician for the BHF Oxbridge Centre for Regenerative Medicine, under the supervision of Paul Riley, where I provided surgical models for associated researchers and graduate students.
Regulatory pathways governing murine coronary vessel formation are dysregulated in the injured adult heart.
Payne S. et al, (2019), Nat Commun, 10
Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Regenerating Neonatal Mouse Heart.
Gunadasa-Rohling M. et al, (2018), Circulation, 138, 2439 - 2441
The cardiac lymphatic system stimulates resolution of inflammation following myocardial infarction.
Vieira JM. et al, (2018), J Clin Invest, 128, 3402 - 3412
iRhom2-mediated proinflammatory signalling regulates heart repair following myocardial infarction.
Barnette DN. et al, (2018), JCI Insight, 3
Recapitulation of developmental mechanisms to revascularize the ischemic heart.
Dubé KN. et al, (2017), JCI Insight, 2