Laboratories and their heads:
- Cardiac Technology Centre
- Professor Stephen Hunyor
- North Shore Heart Research Laboratory
- Professor Helge H. Rasmussen
- Vascular Biology
- Dr Michael Ward
Overview of research program
The Northern Cardiology Research Group is a loose knit collective of three scientific groups with specific interests in cardiovascular research. These groups are the Cardiac Technology Centre headed by Professor Stephen Hunyor, North Shore Heart Research Group headed by Professor Helge Rasmussen and the Vascular Biology Laboratories headed by Dr Micheal Ward.
The Cardiac Technology Centre (CTC) has continued to build on its strengths in Translational Research by using sheep models. Our aim is to create a bridge between rapid advances in cellular and molecular biology and classical physiological measurements in whole animals. This Integrative Physiology approach is epitomised by our studies of heart damage and repair which examine the role of stem cell therapy in replacing contractile muscle and blocked blood vessels. Our aims include refining understanding of the coronary circulation in sheep, its similarity and differences from humans, and the study of various methods for creating myocardial infarcts that are reproducible, quantifiable and credible mimics of human heart attacks. This will be the platform for study of heart repair mechanisms which use drugs, stem cells or heart assist devices.
The North Shore Heart Research Group was established by Helge Rasmussen in 1988 on his return from a Fellowship at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The laboratory is recognised internationally for its expertise in cellular electrophysiology, in particular using whole cell patch clamp techniques for measuring Na+-K+ pump activity in isolated cardiac myocytes. We are particularly interested in the Na+-K+ pump because of its critical role in establishing electrochemical gradients, as well as determining intracellular Na+ concentration in the myocyte. These factors are important in heart failure, a condition in which raised intracellular Na+ levels are associated with impaired cardiac contractility, and increased arrhythmias.
The Vascular Biology Laboratory investigates mechanisms of arterial remodelling in atherosclerosis and after balloon angioplasty and stenting. Recent studies have elucidated the basic mechanisms of flow-dependent remodelling after angioplasty and stenting and the influence of some therapies commonly used in the treatment of vascular disease on de novo atherosclerotic remodelling.