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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Dr Kate Weeks and Associate Professor Julie McMullen

Project summary

Heart failure is a debilitating condition in which the ability of the heart to meet the body's demands for oxygenated blood is compromised. Prognosis is poor, with approximately 50 per cent of patients with heart failure dying within 5 years of diagnosis. Thus, there is a clear need for new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of heart failure.

Cardiac hypertrophy (an increase in heart muscle mass) is a key feature of the pathological cardiac remodelling that occurs following an acute cardiac injury (e.g. myocardial infarction) and in settings of chronic pressure overload (e.g. hypertension), and contributes to the development of heart failure. Investigation of the signalling mechanisms responsible for initiating and sustaining cardiac hypertrophy may lead to the identification of novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of heart failure.

Protein phosphatases are a family of enzymes with critical roles in numerous cellular processes. There is a knowledge gap concerning the role of specific protein phosphatase family members in regulating signalling pathways involved in cardiac hypertrophy and remodelling. This project will investigate how the composition of protein phosphatase enzymes changes in disease settings, and how this contributes to cardiac hypertrophy and remodelling. 

Related methods, skills or technologies

The project is suitable for a Honours student and could be expanded to suit a Masters or PhD student. The student will gain expertise in protein-based molecular biology techniques, such as co-immunoprecipitations, SDS-PAGE and Western blotting. A background in biochemistry, molecular biology or bioinformatics is desirable.

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