A three-way collaboration between Dr Blake Cochran, Prof Tracie Barber and Dr Nasir Shah has brought together a cell biologist, an aerodynamicist and an early-career nephrologist. Together, they have turned an intriguing concept into a developed model, and now that the scientific foundation has been laid, they can compete for larger, national level grant support.

Spotlight On:

Dr Blake Cochran, Senior Lecturer, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine & Health

Prof Tracie Barber, Professor, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

Dr Nasir Shah, PhD student, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine & Health

Can you give us a brief introduction?

Blake is a cell biologist with research interests in cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Specifically, his work examines the role of inflammation in disease processes and designing new approaches to treatment.

Tracie is an aerodynamicist who applies engineering technologies to medical problems. Her interests include vascular fluid dynamics and medical imaging (particularly ultrasound).

 Nas is an early career nephrologist and PhD Candidate. His research merges additive manufacturing technologies with established biological science techniques to develop innovative 3D mimics of true patient blood vessel geometries.

Can you describe the research project funded by the CVMM Theme?

The cells that line blood vessels, endothelial cells, were once thought to be nothing more than a physical barrier between blood and the rest of the body. We now know that they are essential in maintaining normal bodily function, and their dysfunction is seen in many medical conditions including heart and kidney disease. This study used 3D printers to develop a mimic model of real patient blood vessels where we could grow endothelial cells. This 3D environment allowed us to test the effect of different blood flow patterns on endothelial cells, and the consequences of disturbed flow on their function.

How did the CVMM Funding support your research?

This project started simply as an intriguing, but theoretical, concept. The CVMM Collaborative Grant Scheme funding provided the essential resources required to conduct the proof-of-concept studies while developing our model. By facilitating us to lay the scientific foundation, we are now able to compete for larger, national-level grant support.  

We're always looking for a good book to read or show to stream. Any recommendations?

Blake: As a new dad I wish I had the time to read and watch more than trash (mostly MAFS) on tv! The last good book I read was Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. I enjoyed The White Lotus and have an addiction to watching Jeopardy.

Tracie: I'm a geek who likes productivity books and I'm excited that yesterday I got Cal Newport's new book. Also reading Finding the Mother Tree, which makes me want to hug trees even more than usual.

Nas: I’m relatively new to the world of Formula 1. With every instalment of the Netflix docuseries “Drive to Survive" I fall further down the rabbit hole.