Delbridge Laboratory: Cardiac Phenomics
Latest publications see Pubmed
The Cardiac Phenomics Laboratory research is about understanding how the heart response to stress can be managed to minimize the damaging impacts of a variety of disease conditions. We investigate responses of the working 'pumping' heart, of specialized muscle tissues and cells from different regions of the heart and of molecular signaling processes. As our name suggests, we look at how the cardiac 'genome' (the genetically defined heart) is translated in different stressor situations to create the 'phenome' (the structurally and functionally defined heart).
Our pre-clinical work focuses on cardiac pathology arising from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and on the factors which determine how female and male hearts respond differently to stress and disease challenges. These areas of heart health are of critical significance in shaping the demographics of cardiovascular disease. We use experimental models to mimic human disease conditions, and we look for links between the performance of single muscle cells and the functioning heart. Our goals are to inform the development of new treatments for diabetic cardiomyopathy and to understand how for women and men, cardiac 'difference' may be managed with optimized therapeutic tools.
Be sure to check out the American Journal of Physiology webcasts highlighting some of our research milestones:
Aromatase Modulates Cardiac Ischemic Stress Response (2014)
"Beyond vascular effects, can estrogen produced in the heart have an influence on cardiac function? Is the local action of aromatase conversion of testosterone to estrogen important for the stressed heart? Listen as Guest Editor Dr. Virginia Miller interviews lead author Lea Delbridge (University of Melbourne) and expert Fred Naftolin (New York University) about the exciting new work by Bell et al showing aromatase expression in the heart at both the messenger and protein level. Given that the human heart is sexually dimorphic, and that this may extend past development to actual function, what insightful differences did the authors find in male and female aromatase transgenic mouse hearts? Listen now."
Fructose diet-induced cardiomyocyte Ca2+ cycling abnormality (2012)
"In our latest podcast we explore the cardiac-specific effects of a high fructose diet. An inventive new study by Mellor et al investigates excitation contraction coupling changes in myocytes isolated from an experimental mouse model. These studies reveal, upon high fructose feeding, marked alterations in myocyte Ca2+ handling, but with maintained contractile function. Associate Editor Meredith Bond and leading expert Susan Howlett (Dalhousie University) interview senior author Lea Delbridge (University of Melbourne) about her exciting new work on diabetic cardiomyopathy."
Professor Lea M Delbridge, Lab Head
Professor Lea M Delbridge
Professor Lea Delbridge was awarded her PhD in Physiology from the University of Melbourne. She had training positions at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada) and Loyola University (Chicago, USA). At Loyola, she was appointed an International Fellow of the American Heart Association working with Prof Don Bers. She returned to Melbourne as a Fellow of the National Heart Foundation of Australia, prior to taking up an academic position within the Department of Physiology. She was appointed Professor in 2011. From 2007 to 2013, she was the President of the Australasian Section Council of the International Society of Heart Research (ISHR), and is an elected World Council ISHR Member (2010-2016). She has also served as Council Member for the Australian Physiological Society.
Dr Claire L Curl, Research Fellow
Dr Claire L Curl
Claire completed her PhD at Monash University – her work in demonstrating direct sex steroid effects on cardiomyocytes is seminal. She leads our longitudinal studies on failure transition, investigating how early perinatal influences culminate in structural and functional cardiac demise using integrated echo imaging and single cell functional imaging approaches.
Dr James R Bell, Research Fellow
Dr James R Bell
Jim took his PhD at Kings College London – with groundbreaking contributions to early FXYD characterization studies. His major focus areas are CaMKII and aromatase roles in arrhythmogenesis. He directs several research programs involved with understanding how molecular signaling is influenced by local and systemic sex steroid levels in stress states.
William F Meeker, Lab Manager
William F Meeker
Bill comes from a pharmacological background – with an interest in ROS damage in the heart and vasculature. As our Lab Manager he organizes finances, safety compliance, lab area usage and personnel matters, serves as lab meeting ‘Executive Officer’ - and also manages to find time for some ‘bench’ science too.
Wendy TK Ip, PhD Student
Wendy TK Ip
Wendy’s PhD investigates the effects of omega 3 lipids on myocardial viability signaling and functional responses to stress. Her project involves rodent dietary studies and patient pre-surgery supplementation. She has developed optimized molecular techniques for archived human samples. Wendy’s project is co-supervised by Dr S Pepe (MCRI/RCH Pediatrics).
Laura A Bienvenu, PhD Student
Laura A Bienvenu
Laura studies how cardiomyocyte –selective KO of the mineralocorticoid receptor influences function, inflammation and ischemic resilience. She employs functional isolated heart experiments, immunohistochemistry and extensive qPCR to evaluate myocardial structure-function relationships. Her PhD is co supervised by Dr MJ Young (MIMR-PHI).
Upasna Varma, PhD Student
The focus of Upasna’s PhD is the regulation of cardiac glycophagy by prodiabetic states including hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia. Her work includes a major cell culture component, and molecular analyses combined with confocal immunolocalization studies – all tools to map out energy regulatory signaling networks in the heart cell.
Chanchal Chandramouli, PhD Student
Chanchal’s PhD project is the characterization of type 1 diabetic cardiomyopathy and glycogen dysregulation in rodents where there is intrinsic disturbance of cardiac neurohumoral signaling. An emphasis on echo strain analysis and glycogen quantification techniques, and molecular expression tools. Chanchal’s PhD is co supervised by A/Prof RH Ritchie (Baker IDI).
Gabriel B Bernasochi, PhD Student
Gabriel B Bernasochi
For his PhD, Gabe is primarily interested in identifying sites of aromatase expression in the heart and probing regulatory mechanisms relevant to arrhythmogenesis and MI damage. His experiments involve confocal immunolocalization, work with Arom (GFP) models and gene array studies. Gabe is co supervised by A/Prof JR McMullen (Baker IDI).
AJ (Hanneke) Raaijmakers, PhD Student
AJ (Hanneke) Raaijmakers
Hanneke is pursuing the important question of how Ca-dependent and Ca-independent factors influence diastolic dysfunction in the cardiomyocyte. Her PhD involves intact heart and intact myocytes – functional, mechanical and molecular studies at cell and tissue levels. The implementation of single cell mechano-measurements is an exciting aspect of her work.
Brendan Ma, PhD Student
As a Master’s degree student, Brendan is interested in how hyperglycemic states in the cardiomyocyte are linked with formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). His work has a strong component of mass spectroscopy – looking for glycation sites in key excitation contraction coupling proteins.
Zelia Chan, PhD Student
Zelia’s Masters project focuses on the contractile properties of single cardiomyocytes harvested from type 1 diabetic hearts – using optical kinetic and Ca fluorescence techniques to evaluate systolic and diastolic dysfunction.
Sarah E Heywood, PhD Student
Sarah E Heywood
Sarah’s interests are in identifying a role for HDL in modulating glucose metabolism in cardiomyocytes. Her PhD project is based at the Baker Heart Research Institute (Co-supervision with Prof BA Kingwell and Dr AL Siebel, Baker IDI).
Elizabeth K Fletcher, PhD Student
Elizabeth K Fletcher
For her PhD, Elizabeth is pursuing evidence that corticosteroids are involved in regulation of the ‘clock’ genes, and integral to cardiopathology mediated by these steroids. Her work is based at the Prince Henrys Institute of Medical Research (Co-supervision with Dr MJ Young, MIMR-PHI).
Rochelle S Sleaby, PhD Student
Rochelle S Sleaby
Working towards her Masters degree, Rochelle is investigating the role of the hexosamine biosynthesis pathway in mediating O-GlcNAc glycosylation signaling in type 1 diabetic hearts. She is based at the Baker Heart Research Institute (Co-supervision with A/Prof RH Ritchie, Baker IDI).
Kimberley M Mellor PhD
We closely collaborate with the Mellor Lab in New Zealand – with several jointly funded projects and shared student supervision. An alumnus of the Phenomics Lab, now establishing an independent research group in Auckland, Kim's investigative focus on various facets of diabetic cardiomyopathy is integral and complementary. Our Labs meet together regularly – virtually and in reality!
David I Stapleton PhD
David's work with the Phenomics Lab is key to developing our understanding of how glycogen is regulated metabolically and functionally in stress states. David has extensive experience in glycogen and protein structural analysis techniques, and in managing proteomic platform facilities.
Morag J Young PhD
Morag heads the Cardiovascular Endocrinology Lab at Prince Henry's Institute of Medical Research (MIMR-PHI). With our students, we collaborate to unravel the mysteries of glucocorticoid and mineralo corticoid signaling, using cardiac-targeted genetic models and drug intervention approaches.
Margaret A Brimble PhD,CNZM
As a Medicinal Chemist, Margaret has garnered high level recognition for her achievements leading the drug discovery programme in the Dept Chemical Sciences at U Auckland. She is working closely with us in the synthesis of designer peptides which incorporate glycated residues for our projects investigating diabetic cardiomyocyte AGE cardiopathology.
Rebecca H Ritchie PhD
Rebecca heads the Heart Failure Pharmacology Lab at the Baker Heart Research Institute (IDI) Melbourne. We collaborate extensively investigating diabetic cardiomyopathy – using genetics and treatments to evaluate the role of oxidative stress and altered glycolytic metabolism states.
Thierry Pedrazzini PhD
Thierry is our long-time collaborator, working with us to understand the local cardiac effects of angiotensin II exposure and the role of this peptide mediator in cardiac hypertrophy development and signaling. He leads the Experimental Cardiology Unit at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
Jeff R Erickson PhD
After relocating from the USA where he trained, Jeff has recently established a Lab at Otago University (NZ). Using exciting molecular imaging tools our goal is to unravel some of the complex cardiomyocyte signaling events in cardiac stress conditions involving CaMKII post-translational modifications.
School Research Themes
For further information about this research, please contact Professor Lea Delbridge