HRI welcomes Dr Ashish Misra as Unit Leader

The Heart Research Institute welcomes Dr Ashish Misra as Unit Leader of the Atherosclerosis and Vascular Remodelling Group.

The research of the Atherosclerosis and Vascular Remodelling Group focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of blood vessel wall development and the pathogenesis of diverse cardiovascular diseases. Dr Misra’s recent work demonstrated molecular processes and signals that are required for blood vessel wall patterning and how aberrant molecular signalling leads to vascular abnormalities.

“To develop improved treatments for heart disease, or any disease for that matter, we need to understand the fundamental biological processes and the pathological condition of cells and how they behave in the disease,” Dr Misra says. “My main aim is to bridge the gap between the basic sciences and translational research.”

Holding a PhD in cell biology, Dr Misra came to understand that the cells he worked with in his PhD played a pivotal role in vascular disorders. “There was little research in this area, so I took it as a challenge – and so I started my research in the cardiovascular disease space.

“The currently available cardiovascular therapies are not universally effective and do not reverse vascular disease completely. If we can identify the factors and signalling mechanisms that may provide better therapeutic options, we could prevent cardiovascular disease.”

Towards that goal, the Group will use a range of techniques including lineage tracing, fate mapping, high-resolution microscopy and single cell RNA sequencing to investigate fundamental biological processes such as cell migration, cell proliferation and fate change at the single cell level.

“Research life is a marathon, not a sprint that you can finish in one shot,” Dr Misra says. “There will be stretches of bad days, where you don’t get the results you want. But you just have to keep working, have patience and heart, and you’ll eventually get to the good days where you can achieve your goals.”

But while Dr Misra gains satisfaction from being published in highly regarded journals, such as the Journal of Experimental Medicine, Nature Communications and Science Translational Medicine, it is the response from families that might benefit from his research that he most appreciates.

“Sometimes patients or their families contact you to tell you how much they appreciate the work you’re doing. While for us it’s just experiments in the lab, for them it’s their lives and their families and their daily struggles, as they wait for better treatment options.”

Dr Misra has relocated with his family, which now includes two young daughters, across continents several times to advance his research – from India to Singapore, then to the USA and now to the HRI headquarters in Australia. He joins HRI from Yale Cardiovascular Research Center (YCVRC), Yale University, where he held the James Hudson Brown - Alexander Brown Coxe Postdoctoral Fellowship. He is the recipient of a 2017 Sydney Cardiovascular Fellowship.

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