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Our researchers

We are a collaborative, passionate & diverse group

Our AMAZING team

Associate Professor Francine Marques

Laboratory head

Associate Professor Francine Marques is a Senior Medical Research Fellow from the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation, a National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow (Level 2), a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Emerging Leader (Level 2), 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 an NHMRC and Heart Foundation early career fellow during 2012-2016, and a Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow (Level 1) during 2017-2021. She has won 25 awards including the 2021 Australian Academy of Science Gottschalk Medal. 

Outside the lab, she loves gardening, taking the dogs to the park, baking, and she is the queen of DIYs.

Francine Marques

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Joanne O'Donnell is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early Career Fellow in the Marques lab. Previously she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA (2014-2017). Joanne completed her PhD at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (2011-2014), under an NHMRC Dora Lush Fellowship.  

Outside the lab, she loves spending time with her family and travelling.

Joanne O'Donnell

Associate Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Tenghao Zheng 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.

Tenghao Zheng

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Hamdi Jama recently finished her PhD student at the Marques lab in collaboration with Prof David Kaye at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. Her PhD project focused 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.

Hamdi Jama

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Matthew Snelson is an advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, a Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and chair of the Australasian Human Microbiome Research Network. His research investigates the role of diet in altering chronic disease states via modulation of the gut microbiota and intestinal homeostasis.

Matthew Snelson

PhD student

Evany is a PhD in the Marques lab under supervision of A/Prof Marques, Dr Joanne O'Donnell and Dr Bradley Broughton. 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! 

Evany Dinakis

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.

Rikeish Muralitharan

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.

Liang Xie

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.


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.

Florencia Chudan Xu

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 Bachalor 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.


Lab mascots

Jessie and Ashy

Jessie and Ashy are our lab mascots. They keep us in check while attending 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. 

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