Cardiac Cellular Systems Research
This division seeks to understand how the network of cells that form the heart contributes to the development of heart failure.
This division is based at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne. This division seeks to understand how the network of cells that form the heart contributes to the development of heart failure. It also studies how other organs and factors in the blood regulate this network. The team is focused on understanding how hypertension, obesity and diabetes alter the heart, and whether these changes are reversible. To achieve our research goals, the laboratory uses cutting-edge computational biology, single-cell omics, 3D imaging, and mouse genetic technologies.
Current Research Projects
We were the first to use single-cell transcriptomics to catalogue the entire cardiac cellular landscape – both myocytes and non-myocytes – and also examine the impact of hypertension on cardiac cells. Key findings include identification of two previously undescribed cell populations driving fibrosis, and sex differences in key cellular and genetic circuits driving fibrosis.
We have also performed the first study using single-cell transcriptomics on cardiac non-myocytes from the adult mouse heart. The work revealed the heart hosts a diverse and interdependent network of cells and revealed the extent to which biological sex regulates cellular gene expression.
We have also found that the heart hosts a diverse and abundant network of non-myocytes that significantly outnumber cardiomyocytes – the primary contractile cell type of the heart. Previous to our work, the cellular composition of the heart was not known, and our findings have challenged the prevailing view that fibroblasts were the most abundant cardiac cell type.
- Associate Professor Alexander Pinto (Division Head)
- Dr Malathi Dona (Computational biologist)
- Dr Charlie Cohen
- Ms Gabriella Farrugia (PhD Student and Research Assistant)
- Ms Taylah Gaynor (PhD Student)
- Mr Crisdion Krstevski (PhD Student)
- Mr Ian Hsu (Data Engineer)