The Marques Laboratory
Integrating microbes and molecular biology to prevent cardiovascular disease
Welcome to our lab!
Our vision is to find the molecular mechanisms behind blood pressure regulation so that we can prevent the development of heart failure and other fatal forms of cardiovascular disease. We take a systemic approach because blood pressure regulation is complex and fascinating. This is achieved by using the latest technology available, which includes detecting RNA molecules at the single-cell level using sequencing and imaging, developing new microRNA knockout models using CRISPR/Cas9 technology and sequencing gut microbes, all of that integrated with traditional techniques in the fields of physiology and cardiovascular imaging. We work in multi-disciplinary teams that reflect the complexity of the blood pressure regulation to facilitate advancing research and translating our findings.
As tough as COVID-19 has been, 2020 has been another successful year for our team! Francine won the prestigious Victorian Tall Poppy Science Award, Florencia won the American Heart Association Hypertension Council Early Career Award and the Paul Dudley White Award for the highest ranked abstract submitted from Australia, and Hamdi won the best talk by a PhD student at the European Council for Cardiovascular Research conference - just WOW. Photos of some of our awards can be seen here
Unlocking the Mysteries of Blood Pressure Regulation
There is emerging evidence that the microbes that inhabit our colon, also known as the gut microbiota, might have a role in the regulation of blood pressure. Consumption of a diet high in fibre increases gut microbiota populations that generate short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). We have determined that a diet rich in fibre or SCFA modulates gut microbes and prevents the development of cardiovascular disease. We are now trying to understand the mechanisms involved, how the gut and its microbes communicate with other key tissues, as well as performing clinical trials to decrease the burden of cardiovascular disease through prevention of hypertension.
MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs which bind to untranslated regions of many genes including those responsible for cardiovascular disease. We are interested in understanding how microRNAs regulate blood pressure and might lead to heart failure. This includes microRNAs that control expression of genes involved in traditional pathways that regulate blood pressure, including the renin angiontensin system and sympathetic activation. In the heart, we are interested in microRNAs that regulate developmental origins of disease, as well as those in the transcardiac gradient that could be used as real markers of disease.