Congratulations to Dr Roger Thompson and Dr Jovana Serbanovic-Canic who have been awarded Intermediate Fellowships from the British Heart Foundation. These Fellowships will catalyse the next stage of their academic careers.
Professor Sheila Francis, Head of Department of Infection Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease “I am truly delighted that the excellence of these young investigators has been recognised by the British Heart Foundation. Both will be mentored and supported towards becoming future research leaders at the Medical School in Sheffield”.
Dr Thompson is a medical doctor specialising in pulmonary hypertension and is currently a BHF Fulbright scholar at Stanford University. He has been awarded £731K to study the role of a receptor called TLR3 as a potential new target for pulmonary hypertension. His fellowship supervisors will be Allan Lawrie & Ian Sabroe.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a devastating condition with a prognosis worse than many cancers. Tightening of the blood vessels within the lung progressively increases the blood pressure causing heart failure and death. Treatments that halt or reverse this process, called blood vessel remodelling, are lacking because the triggers for abnormal remodelling are poorly understood.
Recent evidence suggests that the body’s defence systems protect against blood vessel damage. A receptor that detects tissue damage and some infections is called TLR3. Roger investigated the role of TLR3 in the blood vessels of the lungs and demonstrated in a model of pulmonary hypertension, that the lack of this receptor led to more severe disease and hypothesises that TLR3 recognises damage signals, protects against abnormal remodelling and that understanding these processes will generate new treatments for pulmonary hypertension.
Dr Serbanovic-Canic is expert in the use of zebrafish models of development and she has been awarded £390k to study the role of novel mechanoreceptors in the process of atherosclerosis. Her fellowship supervisors will be Paul Evans and Tim Chico.
Jovana’s project will use state-of-the-art approaches, including RNA sequencing and CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) to investigate the role of polycystin 1 in the development of atherosclerosis. The study has promising translational value as it potentially identifies signalling molecules downstream from Pkd1 that could be targeted therapeutically to prevent or treat vascular injury and atherosclerosis.