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Identifying new therapeutic targets for diabetic heart disease

School of Medical Sciences

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Dr Kimberley Mellor Applications accepted all year round Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a PhD student to work in the field of cellular and molecular cardiac research in the Department of Physiology, University of Auckland. This PhD project will involve pre-clinical experimental research to identify new therapeutic targets for diabetic heart disease. Our research has made some exciting discoveries relating to cardiac metabolism and novel autophagy pathways linked with glucose availability in the cardiomyocyte. These findings have led to new research projects aiming to target these pathways to determine effectiveness in treating diastolic dysfunction in diabetes. Diastolic dysfunction is a disease of escalating prevalence with no specific treatment available. This PhD research project will focus on uncovering novel mechanisms of diastolic dysfunction and test new translational targets for treatment.

Specific areas of research:
- cardiac metabolism
- autophagy
- cardiomyocyte handling of sugars (glucose, fructose)
- diastolic dysfunction
- cardiomyocyte mechanics and stiffness properties
- cardiac energetics

The successful candidate will join an active research group that utilizes state-of-the-art techniques to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms of heart failure. Some of these techniques include:

- echocardiography
- isolated cardiomyocyte live cell imaging
- isolated heart perfusion
- bioanalyzer
- biochemical assays
- qPCR, western blot
- cell culture of cardiomyocytes
- gene therapy in vivo
- gene manipulation in vitro (siRNA, AAV)

The successful candidate will be expected to work closely with our collaborators in Australia and within New Zealand, and present their work at national and international conferences.

Please see our lab website for more information about our research:

Fees: If you are a new international PhD student, you will pay the same annual tuition fee as New Zealand PhD students. The 2019 PhD tuition fee is NZ$7,108.80 per annum. In addition to the tuition fee, there is a Student Services Fee estimated at $847.20 for full-time study. Scholarships to cover fees and living costs are available for competitive candidates, please see the links in the funding section.

Applicants must have completed a postgraduate bachelors (honours) degree with first class or second class (division 1) honours, or a masters degree with first class or second class (division 1) honours in Biomedical Sciences, Physiology or a related subject. In addition you must have completed a significant research project, dissertation or thesis, at university level.

Funding Notes

Eligibility: Grades achieved at other institutions are given a Grade Point Equivalent (GPE) on the University of Auckland’s 0-9 grading scale. You will typically need a GPE of 5.5 for eligibility for PhD entry, or over 8.0 to be eligible for a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship. We highly recommend that you calculate your GPE before applying:

University of Auckland Doctoral Entry requirements:



Janssens JV, Ma B, Brimble MA, Van Eyk JE, Delbridge LMD, Mellor KM (2018). Cardiac troponins may be irreversibly modified by glycation: novel potential mechanisms of cardiac performance modulation. Scientific Reports 8(1):16084. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-33886-x.

Delbridge LM*, Mellor, KM*, Taylor DJ, Gottlieb RA (2017). Myocardial stress and autophagy: mechanisms and interventional prospects. Nature Reviews Cardiology. 14(7):412-425. *Equal 1st author. DOI: 10.1038/nrcardio.2017.35

Delbridge LM, Benson VL, Ritchie RH, Mellor KM (2016). Diabetic Cardiomyopathy: The Case for a Role of Fructose in Disease Etiology. Diabetes. 65(12):3521-3528. DOI: 10.2337/db16-0682

Delbridge LM, Bienvenu LA, Mellor KM (2016). Angiotensin-(1-9): New Promise for Post-Infarct Functional Therapy. J Am Coll Cardiol. 68(24):2667-2669. DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2016.10.011
Delbridge LMD, Mellor KM, Taylor DJ, & Gottlieb RA (2015). Myocardial autophagic energy stress responses—macroautophagy, mitophagy, and glycophagy. American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 308 (10), H1194-H1204. doi:10.1152/ajpheart.00002.2015

Mellor KM, Brimble MA, & Delbridge LM (2015). Glucose as an agent of post-translational modification in diabetes--New cardiac epigenetic insights. Life Sci, 129, 48-53. doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2014.03.020

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