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Understanding blood vessel dysfunction in disease

Dr Emma Gordon, Institution: The University of Queensland

2020 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2021-2024


It is well established that stiffening of the environment surrounding blood vessels alters their function. These alterations in stiffness affect vascular health, resulting in inflammation, hypertension and ultimately disease progression. Indeed, in diseases such as atherosclerosis and pulmonary arterial hypertension, it is well appreciated that diseased vessels are stiffer than that of healthy tissue.

My research aims to characterise the pathways that are activated in blood vessels in response to a stiff, diseased environment. In the research proposed, I will test the idea that manipulating the blood vessel response to a stiff micro-environment may prevent vascular growth and leakiness in disease. We have identified key signals that become activated in response to stiffness, and will test if halting these signals may be a promising target to prevent vascular dysfunction in disease states.

Outcomes of this research will identify new pathways and molecular targets to manipulate vascular growth and leakage. Rather than preventing stiffness in diseased tissues, my research will identify novel ways to manipulate the blood vessel response to stiffness. This will allow for the generation of novel therapeutics to prevent the progression of diseases such as atherosclerosis.

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