Is a ‘fat heart’ an especially vulnerable heart?

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Master Places Available
1
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Lea Delbridge lmd@unimelb.edu.au Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr James Bell

Summary The Cardiac Phenomics Laboratory research is about understanding how the heart response to stress can be managed to minimize the damaging impacts of a variety of disease conditions. We investigate responses of the working ‘pumping’ heart, of specialized muscle tissues and cells from different regions of the heart and of molecular signaling processes. As our name suggests, we look at how the cardiac ‘genome’ (the genetically defined heart) is translated in different stressor situations to create the ‘phenome’ (the structurally and functionally defined heart).

Project Details

Maintaining normal rhythm properties is essential to heart function. Sustained arrhythmias (including atrial fibrillation) increase significantly with aging and in obesity. Often evident in otherwise ‘healthy’ asymptomatic patients, these sustained arrhythmias represent a primary component of cardiac demise. Understanding the cellular mechanisms driving arrhythmias is crucial to developing new effective therapies. Recent evidence has emerged indicating that accumulation of the fat around the heart (pericardial adipose) may be crucial to the development of sustained arrhythmias in the aged/obese population. Pericardial adipose levels are known to increase markedly in obesity, with aging, and in post-menopausal women – all important risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Our very recent data indicate that pericardial adipose may release proteins that exert a paracrine effect on the heart muscle to increase vulnerability to arrhythmias. This project will use molecular and tissue recording studies of human and rodent tissues to further understand how cardiac adipose contributes to the development of cardiac arrhythmias.



Research Opportunities

PhD students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


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