Our researchers

We are a collaborative, passionate & diverse group

Our AMAZING team

Associate Professor Francine Marques

Laboratory head

Associate Professor Francine Marques is a National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow and head of the Hypertension Research laboratory at Monash University. She was awarded her PhD in 2012 at the University of Sydney, in the field of the molecular genomics of hypertension. She was previously a NHMRC and Heart Foundation early career fellow from 2012-2016. She was twice elected as a member of the executive committee for the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia, is the chair of the mentoring committee for the International Society of Hypertension and the inaugural chair of the Emerging Leaders Committee of the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance.

Outside the lab, she loves gardening, taking the dogs to the park, writing her blog Chemo and Beauty, and she is the queen of DIYs.

Maddie Paterson

Research Assistant

Maddie received first class honours at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in 2017 with world-renowned blood pressure specialist Prof Geoff Head. The project, which was co-supervised by A/Prof Marques, investigated the role of microRNA-181a in blood pressure regulation. Maddie continued the research by working as a research assistant at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in 2018, before moving to the Marques lab at Monash University in 2019.

Outside of the lab she enjoys spending time with friends and family, taking her dogs to the beach and travelling.

Michael Nakai


Michael Nakai is a bioinformatician at the Marques lab in Monash University. His previous research has focused on cancer therapeutics and Alzheimer's research, heavily involving research into protein-ligand interactions. He has received a BSc (honours) from the University of Melbourne in 2018 from a thesis focusing on nanoparticle targeting towards cancer cells using ligand coatings. 


On off hours and weekends, he is passionate about baseball, chess, and programming.

Evany Dinakis

Research Assistant

Evany is a research assistant in the Marques lab. She received first class honours through research conducted in the Pharmacology Department at Monash University in 2019, with her research focusing on whether amnion-derived stem cells limited brain inflammation following ischaemic stroke.


Outside of the lab, I enjoy spending quality time with friends and family, going to the beach and travelling! 

Dakota Rhys-Jones

Research Dietitian

Dakota is a dietitian working with Monash University’s Department of Gastroenterology in collaboration with the Marques lab. This project is exploring the use of acetylated and butyrylated high amylose maize starches in the management of high blood pressure. Other research projects she is involved with explore the employability skills of graduates in higher education. She graduated with a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics with Honours from Monash University in 2017. 


Dakota loves all things food, and outside of work, she loves trying new restaurants in Melbourne with her friends and family! 

Hamdi Jama

PhD student

Hamdi Jama is a second year PhD student at the Marques lab in collaboration with Prof David Kaye at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. Her PhD project focuses on elucidating the mechanisms by which gut microbial metabolites modulate cardiovascular disease. In 2017, she received a first class honours project completed at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute characterising cardiac fibroblasts during cardiac inflammation.

Outside of the lab she enjoys hiking, outdoors and spending time with family and friends.

Anna Beale

PhD student

Dr Anna Beale is co-supervised by A/Prof Francine Marques. She is a clinician researcher, doing her second PhD year in Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction with Prof David Kaye at the Alfred Hospital/Baker Institute after completing the first year in Geneva, Switzerland. She completed her MBBS/BMedSci from Monash in 2012, and worked at the Alfred until 2017. She is starting Cardiology advanced training at the Alfred in 2019. She is passionate about gender differences in cardiovascular pathology, as well as women in Cardiology.


Outside of work, she loves cycling, travelling particularly to hike or ski, and making ice cream.

Rikeish Muralitharan

PhD student

Rikeish graduated with a double degree in Medicine (MD) from University of Indonesia and B. Med Sci (Hons) from Monash University. He received first class honours under the supervision of A/P Dr. Caroline Gargett of Hudson Institute, focusing on characterising the anti-inflammatory properties of mesenchymal stem cells from the endometrium.


After completing his medical degree, he underwent compulsory clinical training for two years in Malaysia before being awarded full registration to practice. He then decided to continue his passion for research by joining the Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur under the Ministry of Health, Malaysia. His research there focused on genetics, such as using whole exome sequencing (WES) for the diagnosis of primary immunodeficiencies.


Outside the lab, Rikeish enjoys hanging out with his mates, game nights and keeping healthy.

Liang Xie

PhD student

Liang Xie is co-supervised by A/Prof Francine Marques. Liang is doing his first PhD year on the proton-sensor GPR65 and inflammation with Prof. Charles Mackay. From September 2017 to May 2018, he studied in Charles's lab on how pH and GPR65 regulate cytokine productions of lymphocytes as a visiting research student. From the studies with Charles, Liang received his Bachelor degree (BSc(Hons) equivalent) from Wuhan University, China in 2018.


Outside the lab, he's a passionate chorus singer and also enjoys movies, traveling and outdoors.

Alex Peh Cheng Guan

PhD student

Alex received his BSc (Hons) Biochemistry from the Universiti Putra Malaysia with first-class honors. During his Bachelor's degree, he underwent a research internship at CSIRO (Canberra, Australia) under the supervision of Dr. Helen Dacres, focusing on a novel BRET biosensing system for plasmin measurement. After completing his Bachelor's degree, his enthusiasm in research has driven him to continue his Master's study in Life Sciences at The University of Tokyo (Japan). His research there focused on the development of transgenic medaka (Oryzias latipes) and the study of microglia distribution patterns after irradiation. Alex started his PhD at the Marques Lab in February 2020, and is co-supervised by Dr Bradley Broughton.

Outside of work, he likes taking photographs, skiing and travelling.

Laura Avellaneda Franco

PhD student

Laura is a PhD student at the Barr Lab and is co-supervised by A/Prof  Francine Marques.

Coco Bayly-Jones

PhD student

Coco is a PhD student at the Bryson-Richardson Lab and is co-supervised by A/Prof Francine Marques.

Florencia (Chudan) Xu

PhD student

Florencia graduated from a Bachelor of Biomedical Science from Monash University.  She decided to pursue an Honours project at the Marques lab to further develop her lab skills and gain insights into research. Her Honours project, which was supervised by A/Prof Francine Marques, aims to identify metabolites associated with high blood pressure and fibre intake. Florencia is now a PhD student in the Marques' lab, supervised by A/Prof Marques, Prof David Kaye and Dr Joanne O'Donnell. 

Outside of her studies, she enjoys hanging out with her friends, travelling and hiking.

Leticia Camargo Tavares 

PhD student

Leticia Tavares is a PhD student at the Marques lab in collaboration with Prof Mauro D'Amato and Dr Sonika Tyagi. Her current research is focused on genome-wide analyses for precision medicine in gastrointestinal diseases. She completed her Master’s degree in the Pharmacogenetics field at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Sao Paulo (USP) and is a Bachelor in Physical and Biomolecular Sciences (USP, Brazil).


Besides being a passionate scientist, Leticia is graduated in classical ballet and loves enjoying nature whenever she gets the chance."

Trish Veitch

Research chef

Trish is a talented research chef who designs and tests recipes, and coordinates the cooking of the food used in our clinical trials.

Lab mascots

Pepper and Ash

Pepper and Ash are our lab mascots. They keep us on check turning up to some of the lab meetings unannounced. The girls are miniature Schnauzers who love their walks, treats and belly rubs. They are committed to cardiovascular health and love to exercise and eat their veggies. They are also great at giving cuddles when experiments are not going well. 

Tenghao Zheng

Post-doctoral research fellow

Tenghao obtained his M.D. degree in June 2012 at Zhengzhou University, China and then pursued a two-year specialist training on Gastroenterology at People's Hospital of Zhengzhou University, China, he was awarded the Master of Medicine in June 2014. From September 2014, he started his doctoral studies at Karolinska Institute, Sweden and successfully defended the thesis on May 2019 which focused on identifying risk genes and variants for irritable bowel syndrome. 


Since October 2019, he pursues his scientific career as a postdoctoral research fellow at Monash University, Australia and his current research works focus on the genetic basis and risk factors of common gastrointestinal diseases, where he exploits biobank-scale healthcare data and integrate modern statistics, metagenomic and multi-omics methodologies.

Outside of work, he enjoys traveling, going to the gym, movies and video games.

Marques Laboratory

School of Biological Sciences