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Rhys Evans

MD DPhil

Academic Visitor

My research focusses on the role of lipids, and in particular, triacylglycerol-rich lipoproteins such as very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), in substrate provision and metabolic signalling, in oxidative tissues such as the heart. This work further investigates novel putative mechanisms of VLDL as a metabolic signal in health and disease.

I joined DPAG in 2009 as a Reader and group leader in Metabolism. Previously, I undertook my D.Phil in the Metabolic Research Laboratory, Radcliffe Infirmary, supervised by Dr Derek (Dermot) Williamson, and was subsequently a Lecturer in the Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics. My early research work concentrated on metabolic interplay between tissues during cancer cachexia; subsequently I examined lipid substrate selection and preference by key peripheral tissues such as heart and immune cells.

The key to my work has been our development of a technique of liver perfusion in order to generate species-specific VLDL. This technique has the great advantage that structurally variant species of VLDL characteristic of underlying disease (e.g. diabetic-variant VLDL) can be generated and tested. We have demonstrated the capacity of the heart to utilise triacylglycerol from different lipoprotein sources and defined myocardial substrate preference, but also demonstrated how this selection depends on structural variation in the TG-rich lipoprotein presented, resulting in substrate “switching” in disease states (diabetes, sepsis). Besides having obvious clinical relevance, this work also demonstrated the ability of VLDL to signal target tissues, influencing metabolic status, a phenomenon we are now investigating further. Relating changes in structural motifs in VLDL to specific substrate signalling function is a fundamental aim of these studies. We are also examining how tissue-specific factors (e.g. heart failure, ventricular unloading) influence triacylglycerol substrate utilisation.

My research is funded by the British Heart Foundation and Wellcome Trust. I teach metabolism to biomedical science, medicine and biochemistry undergraduates. I am a cardiothoracic intensive care physician at the John Radcliffe hospital. I am a Fellow at Keble College and a College Lecturer at University College.

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