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Student research project

Supervisors: Professor Peter Meikle (Head, Metabolomcis laboratory) and Dr Anna Calkin (Head, Lipid Metabolism and Cardiometabolic Disease)

Research focus

The Metabolomics Laboratory at Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute state-of-the-art tandem mass spectrometry to obtain metabolic/lipid profiles from cell and animal models in addition to clinically relevant human samples to develop new approaches to diagnosis, risk assessment and therapy for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The Lipid Metabolism and Cardiometabolic Disease Laboratory aims to prevent the onset of cardiometabolic disease driven by excess lipids. The laboratory uses a combination of unique genetically modified mouse models and viruses to manipulate a given pathway in vivo and assess the long-term effects of this on disease endpoints. In addition, they have set up a discovery platform to identify novel regulators of lipid metabolism which have the potential to be targeted for therapeutic intervention.

Project summary

We have recently identified that statin treatment alters multiple plasma lipid species suggesting modulation of different metabolic pathways. The change in certain lipid species can predict the relative risk reduction achieved from statin treatment and importantly, up to 25% of those receiving statin treatment do not receive a risk reduction despite lowering their total cholesterol.

These lipid species represent potential biomarkers to monitor the efficacy of statin treatment and potential therapeutic targets to reduce risk of cardiovascular events (heart attack and stroke).

Association of change in lipid classes subclasses and species with statin treatment
Association of change in lipid classes subclasses and species with statin treatment.
Logistic regression analysis of the change in plasma lipid classes subclasses and species against statin treatment, adjusting for age, gender, BMI, SBP, total cholesterol, HDL-C and triglycerides, identified multiple lipid classes and species associated with statin treatment. Solid squares represent lipid classes and subclasses, circles represent lipid species. Red squares show significant lipid classes, blue and red circles show significant lipid species (corrected for multiple comparisons by the method of Benjamini- Hochberg). Click image to enlarge.

We hypothesis that statin treatment can modulate multiple metabolic pathways and that modulation of these pathways will reduce the risk of cardiovascular events.

This project is suitable for an Honours or PhD student and will use cell culture, animal models and human clinical cohorts to investigate the relationship between statin treatment, lipid metabolism and the risk of future cardiovascular events.

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Student research opportunities

Beginning your research career with one of Australia's largest medical research institutes provides unique opportunities for Masters, Honours and PhD students.

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