Vascular biology and immunopharmacology

Our research is focussed on understanding the causes of stroke, hypertension and chronic kidney disease with a view to identifying new biomarkers, drug targets and therapies to reduce the socioeconomic burden of these conditions. We are particularly interested in the roles of oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction and the immune system in promoting the inflammation and tissue damage that occurs in the brain, vascular wall and kidneys during these diseases.

We utilise validated cell culture and animal models, as well as cutting-edge physiology, immunology, molecular biology, pharmacology and imaging techniques to address the most pressing questions in the field.  Our work has provided novel insights into the roles of NADPH oxidase (NOX) enzymes as signalling molecules under physiological conditions, and mediators of oxidative damage in vascular disease. We have shed new light on the involvement of inflammasomes and interleukin-18 in chronic kidney disease, and on the roles of T and B cells in stroke and the development of hypertension.

Recently, we made the ground-breaking discovery that human amnion epithelial cells are protective against brain injury after stroke, even when administered intravenously 3 days after the event.

Current projects

Hypertension and chronic kidney disease projects

  • Humoral immunity in hypertension: B cells, autoantibodies and complement as mediators of vessel remodelling and renal damage
  • Inflammasomes and IL-18: Novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for acute and chronic kidney disease
  • Identifying hypertension-specific antigens in the blood, kidneys and vessel wall
  • Understanding the role of infiltrating T cells in the pathophysiology of hypertension
  • The microbiome as a regulator of immune function and inflammation in hypertension
  • GPER estrogen receptors as novel drug targets for the treatment of hypertension
  • NOX-derived ROS as mediators of endothelial dysfunction and inflammation in hypertension

Stroke projects:

  • Human amnion epithelial cell therapy for the treatment of stroke
  • GPER estrogen receptors as novel drug targets for the treatment of stroke
  • Gender differences in stroke outcomes
  • The role of vitamin D in protection against stroke
  • Regulation of cerebrovascular function by PPARg
  • Exosomes as therapeutics for stroke

Team members

Group Leaders: Professor Chris Sobey and Professor Grant Drummond

Postdocs: Dr Michael De Silva, Dr Quynh Dinh, Dr Megan Evans, Dr Brooke Huuskes, Dr Maria Jelinic, Dr Courtney Judkins, Dr Helena Kim, Dr Narbada Saini, Dr Antony Vinh, Dr Jianpu Zheng

Research officer: Henry Diep

PhD students: Maggie Lieu, Yeong Ling, Zoe Shin Yee Lok, Jordyn Thomas, Richard Zhang, Flavia Wassef

Honours students: Prerna Sharma, Pranita Pokhriyal, Elizabeth Georges