December 2005


Now that the excitement of the ASM is starting to diminish and we might be reflecting on what we would have liked to have said to that sticky question but didn't, on what we should have not have eaten (lollies) but did and what we wanted to ask but didn't, we might also like to reflect on just how fantastic a meeting it was. The talks and posters were exceptional and the feature lectures were exciting and provoking. Congratulations to all the council members, guests and students for making it such a terrific experience (See Jaye's section).


Photos from the ASM are now located on the HBPRCA website.


This month's feature article is PART 2 from Monash University Physiology. However, I suspect that Warwick has a touch of Spielberg in him and there may be more to come.


This is the last newsletter this year and so we wish everyone a safe and happy holiday break. We will be back next year with quarterly e-news rather than monthly which you may be relieved to hear. However, we will be keeping up the feature articles and other new initiatives including a new web site that updates more frequently. 







 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE from Stephen Harrap

The Annual Scientific Meeting last week was the culmination of a really exciting year for the Council. We ended 2005 with more members, more sponsorship income, an expanded and diversified scientific program and generally a more vibrant feel to the Council and its future.

Jaye did a fantastic job as Program Secretary and one meeting highlight for me was the mediated poster sessions. It was fabulous to see our students really get involved. It is easy to forget just how daunting it is to ask your first ever question at a national meeting. It was marvellous to see so many young people breaking the ice and join in the cut and thrust! Jaye has more on the meeting successes below.

At this point, I'd like to pay thanks to all those working in executive and organisational capacities on your behalf. In particular, Geoff Head as Secretary for his drive and innovation in

making eNews such a success and Jenny and Athina and team for their unswerving and highly professional assistance.

I'm especially grateful to all the members of the Executive who make such a great team. Despite the hard work we all received great encouragement and pleasure from your kind and positive comments last week. 2006 will be a year of consolidation, but also a focused effort on increasing membership and a few new good ideas to boot. To each of you, may I wish you a Very Happy Christmas and all the Best for the New Year.


Pictured: Stephen congratulating Enzo Porello (Melbourne Uni/Baker Heart Research Inst) for winning the young investigator’s oral prize which includes travel to Britain to present at the BHS meeting next year.




MEETING NEWS from Jaye Chin Dusting

The 2005 HBPRCA Annual Scientific Meeting (Dec7-9th, Bio21 Melbourne) came and went with aplomb.  It opened with a clinical session (Wednesday evening) on the Treatment of High Blood Pressure in the Complicated Patient (speakers: Mark Nelson, Karen Duggan, Mark Cooper) and a terrific update on evidence-based clinical trials delivered by Lawrie Beilin; talks which were well received by the 50-60 members of the audience who participated in robust discussions around the practical realities of the patient-doctor interface. 


The meeting proper started off in an invigorating session chaired by Wally Thomas and featuring a great mix of members from the council ranging from students Nicola Smith and Jennifer Irvine to senior members the calibre of Di Nicolantonio and Christine Wright to an international participant Moe Kway Thu from Singapore.  This egalitarian mix of presenters was reflected in almost all the sessions and allowed for great discussion of science without rank limitations.  The Genetic Mouse Model Session followed and led into what proved to be the highlight of the meeting, the RD Wright Lecture delivered by Anna Dominiczak (Glasgow).  The lecture was a tour de force and left many in the audience reeling from the sheer breadth and depth of the topic covered.  Anna’s contribution to the rest of the meeting was also second to none and indeed infectiously increased the level of audience participation substantially.  The Colin I Johnston Lecturer, Shaun Jackson and the Austin Doyle Lecturer, Terry Dwyer completed the trifecta.  The Foundation Fellows also played no small part in contributing to the high quality of the meeting and the late but well-received presentation by Helena “just in the nick of timeTeede added a lightened bit of drama at the end of a long but satisfying day.


The two moderated poster sessions, chaired by Greg Dusting and Geoff Head, were memorable a) for successfully turning the focus back onto poster sessions; b) for reminding us all the supreme skill required for succinctly forwarding the gist of a presentation and c) for generating audience, and most pleasing, student participation during question time.  We will endeavour to get the acoustics and visuals correct in future meetings but a big thank you to all presenters for gamely going through their strides in what was essentially a programming experiment.  Congratulations to Ravina Ravi, Monash University (Young Investigator Poster Prize) and Morag Young, Prince Henry’s (Clinical Science New Investigator Winner) for their well-deserved wins.  The contenders for the Young Investigators Oral Prize knew that the bar had been set following the invite presentation by British Hypertension Society winner Carmel McEniery, but indeed they all rose to the occasion magnificently with their own papers.  There is only ever a single winner in any race however, and young Enzo Porello (Melbourne Uni/Baker Heart Research Inst), walked away with the reciprocal invite to the 2006 BHS conference.  Congratulations are also due to Rai-Chi Huang for winning the Robert Vandongen Award.


It only remains for me to thank everyone for their warm and enthusiastic participation in what was a collegiate but lively meeting.  I am reminded of a remark made to me 15 years ago by a senior member of council at my first presentation to the society - to be warned: that the HBPRCA was not a battle-ground but neither was it play-school - and indeed the level of critical interest from all members of council shown at this 2005 meeting assures that the bar remains set.   Personal thanks to Stephen Harrap for his guidance; meetingsfirst for their hard yakka and other members of the Exec Committee for their contribution.





We thank everyone who has this year made an effort to encourage or support colleagues, staff or students to become members of the HBPRCA. The results have been outstanding. As announced at the Annual General Meeting, the number of applications for Ordinary membership in the HBPRCA for 2006 has exceeded the sum of applications in the previous two years. In addition we have this year more than doubled our student membership, from 26 in 2005 to 54 in 2006. Overall this has pushed us comfortably past the 200 member mark.


Speaking of student memberships we remind all supervisors that student membership in the HBPRCA is free and may become a requirement for student presenting authors at the Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM). A new initiative to simplify that process is being considered this year and will be the introduction of a standardised form that can be downloaded, completed by the applicant and signed by sponsoring members to complete the application process.


The introduction of the Membership Contest will become an annual feature of the ASM. Congratulations go to Jaye Chin-Dusting who wrote the most sponsorship letters for new Student and Ordinary members in 2005. The race was close and Honourable Mention goes to Roger Evans who was edged out of a tied first place in the week before the meeting.


Several new membership categories are being considered in 2006 including a RA/Post-Doc/New Investigator category that we hope will encourage registration from this important group at the ASM. Also being considered is a ‘distinguished’ category for members that have made substantial contributions to the function and history of the HBPRCA. Throughout the year we invite any comments or suggestions regarding membership categories.   




SOCIETY NEWS from Kate Denton

This year we have undertaken the task to raise the international profile of the society.  One element of this has been the exchange of presentations by the  "Young Investigator" award winners of the British Hypertension Society and our own Society.   Those of you who attended the ASM with have observed first hand the inaugral presentation by Carmel McEniery, the BHS winner.  Our "Young Investigator" Enzo Porello is set to attend the BHS meeting next September.  Other initiatives in progress included local registration rights to attend British, American and Canadian Hypertension meetings.  Members of these Societies will also have reciprocal rights at our ASM.  Additionally web-links to our society website will be posted on our fellow societies websites.   We are also negotiating with the American Council for High Blood Pressure Research to make Australian students and post-docs eligible for travel awards given by this society, currently we are ineligible due to an oversight.  This task of increasing the profile of our HBPRC is on going.  Any suggestions of other society's to approach are welcomed.




CORPORATE NEWS from Louise Burrell

Currently there are four pharmaceutical companies with corporate membership of the HBPRCA.  These include Pfizer Australia, Servier Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceuticals and Merck Sharp & Dohme.  In addition, Pfizer and Servier were Gold Sponsors of the annual meeting and we also received new sponsorship from Solvay Pharmaceuticals, F. Hoffman La Roche (Drug Discovery, Basel) and Portland Press (Clinical Science).  Over the next year we will encourage other pharmaceutical companies to become corporate members and/or Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsors of the meeting itself.  In addition, we shall identify new potential sponsors, not only from the pharmaceutical industry but also from those chemical/reagent companies as well as those making equipment of relevance to high blood pressure. If any members have suggestions for sponsors, please forward to me and I will follow up.





December Feature Article


Cardiovascular Research at Monash Physiology (Part 2)


This month we continue with research at Monash Physiology focusing on the role of the kidney in hypertension, fetal programming leading to hypertension, nephron endowment, diabetes and the heart.


Fetal programming of adult hypertension

Kate Denton, Marelyn Wintour, Marianne Tare, Helena Parkington, Michelle Kett


Marelyn's and Kate’s teams are investigating how fetal environmental events may "program" the blood pressure regulatory systems so that hypertension develops in adulthood.  Marelyn published pivotal studies on the effects of fetal exposure to steroids on development of hypertension, and has extended these studies with Karen Moritz, Miodrag Dodic and Rob DeMatteo following her move to Physiology in 2002. Currently Marelyn is an Honorary Professor, in the Department of Physiology. Kate Denton with Rebecca Flower (research assistant), and Dev Maduwegedera (PhD student) has developed an exciting new model, studying the blood pressure of offspring of rabbit mothers with renal wrap hypertension. These studies show that chronic kidney disease associated with high blood pressure adversely effects maternal extracellular fluid homeostasis during pregnancy and exposes the fetus to an unfavourable environment in which to develop.  Recent results suggest that fetal development of the renal sympathetic nerves has been altered and that the functional response is increased in the offspring prior to the onset of hypertension.


Identifying other potential hazards, Marianne Tare, Helena Parkington and group has shown that intrauterine growth restriction in sheep markedly influences vascular reactivity and mechanical wall properties in the coronary vasculature in the offspring. They have also shown that vitamin D deficiency in utero in rats results in hypertension in the offspring, accompanied by significant vascular endothelial dysfunction.


Students and collaborators: Kristen Bubb, Dewaki Maduwegedera, Adelle McArdle, Dr Karen Moritz and Dr Jane Black (Anatomy & Cell Biology, Monash University), Dr Ruth Morley and Sonya Grover (Murdoch and Children’s Medical Research Institute), Dr Clare Roberts (Research Centre for Reproductive Health Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Adelaide).


Nephron endowment

Michelle Kett, Amany Shweta, Roger Evans, Warwick Anderson

  There is increasing evidence that the number of nephrons that an individual possesses, so-called nephron endowment, may be a major factor in setting arterial blood pressure levels. In fact, several of the environmental factors described above are thought to have a direct effect on the expression of genes involved in nephrogenesis in the foetus. Michelle Kett (Foundation for High Blood Pressure Research Fellow) has described that mice heterozygous for the GDNF gene, and who are born with a 30% fewer nephrons, develop hypertension in old age (Figure 1).  This is similar to studies to studies from humans showing reduced nephron numbers in hypertensive patients (see Keller et al New Eng J Med 2003).

With PhD Student Leah-Anne Ruta, she is now studying whether this reduction in nephron capacity renders the mice more prone to the hypertensive effects of high salt, and other environmental circumstances. Using a mouse model of neonatal unilateral nephrectomy Michelle is also examining the mechanisms whereby the timing of nephron loss leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Fig 2 shows the relative immaturity of the mouse kidney at birth providing an excellent model to examine the role of reduced nephron number at an early age.


Pictured left: Figure 1 Glomeruli number from GDNF mice

Pictured right: Figure 2 Renal cortex from 1 day old Mouse


Other studies, are investigating the molecular basis of the developmental programming of reduced nephron endowment in collaboration with the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Monash.


Students and collaborators: Leah-Anne Ruta, Chantal Hoppe, Dr Luise Cullen-McEwen, Dr Sharon Ricardo (Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories), Dr Karen Moritz and Professor John Bertram (Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Monash University), Professor Melissa Little (University of Queensland).



Helena Parkington, Marianne Tare, Harry Coleman, Sharyn Fitzgerald

This group uses detailed electrophysiological techniques, coupled with molecular biology and haemodynamic measurements in conscious and anaesthetized animals to probe the details of the disturbances that complicate diabetic arteries. We have found that

·            The effects of diabetes are not uniform throughout the vasculature, especially in relation to the nature of the endothelial factor impaired.

·            Diabetes interferes with endothelial potassium channels that play a key role in normal vascular endothelial vasodilator function.

·            In vivo and subsequent in vitro studies suggest the involvement of reactive oxygen species whose influence, again, appears to differ in different vascular beds. 

·            The stiffening of arteries seen in diabetes can be rescued by new agents that prevent or reverse the destructive cross-linking induced by excess circulating glucose.

·            The role of fat cells in the vascular complications of diabetes is also under study.

·            Investigating how hyperglycaemia is affecting vessel function, concentrating on the role of endothelial factors by utilising genetic models in mice, particularly NOS knockouts.

Additionally, Dr Amanda Edgley, an NHMRC Industry Fellow, currently working at Astra Zeneca, Sweden, will return to Melbourne in the New Year.  Amanda has been utilising mouse models of diabetes and obesity to study vascular and cardiac function.


Students and Collaborators: Jyosthna Rama, Dr Barbara Kemp (Department of Pharmacology, Monash).


The heart

Igor Wendt, James Pearson

Assoc. Prof. Igor Wendt (Deputy Head, Department of Physiology) is investigating sex differences in cardiac physiology, particularly the effects of sex hormones on myocardial calcium movements and on the development of cardiac hypertrophy.  Findings to date indicate that oestrogen reduces calcium levels in the female heart, and is also able to reduce the responsiveness of heart cells to stimuli that induce abnormal cellular growth (hypertrophy).  This supports the idea that oestrogen is able to act at the myocardial cellular level to exert potential cardio-protective actions.


James Pearson is a Monash Synchrotron Senior Research Fellow and leads one of only two research groups in the world that uses synchrotron x-ray radiation to investigate molecular mechanisms of myocardial contraction in vivo, to pursue the basic mechanisms that malfunction in ischemia and heart failure. He currently uses the SPring-8 synchrotron in Japan, but will work with the Australian synchrotron located adjacent to the Monash Clayton campus after it opens next year. This unique research brings together traditional cardiac function measurements of whole heart contractility and x-ray diffraction recordings of cardiac myosin-actin interactions in localised regions of the heart wall. This approach enables micro-level investigations of regional dysfunction.  This work is currently being extended to included study of real-time renal vascular reactivity (see figure 3).


Fig 3 Real-time contrast microangiography of rat kidney in vivo using Synchrotron technology. The 3 images show different time-points after administration of contrast bolus into the renal circulation.Image courtesy of Gabriela Eppel and James Pearson.

Students and Collaborators: Ruchi Patel, Dr Rebecca Ritchie (Baker Institute), Associate Professor Lea Delbridge and Dr Claire Curl (Physiology, Melbourne University). Prof. Mikiyasu Shirai (Hiroshima Intl. University) and Dr Kenji Kangawa and Dr Hiroyuki Suga (National Cardiovascular Center, Japan).







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Meetings First

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International Conference on Healthy Ageing and Longevity

3rd Annual Meeting

Friday, October 13 – Sunday, October 15, 2006

Melbourne Exhibition and ConventionCentre – Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

Click here for meeting website



International Society of Hypertension

21st Scientific Meeting

Saturday, October 15 – Wednesday, October 19, 2006

Fukuoka International Congress Centre – Fukuoka, JAPAN

Click here for meeting website

Click here for International Society of hypertension web page

American Heart Association

Obesity, Lifestyle, and Cardiovascular Disease Symposium.

Grand Hyatt Washington - Washington, DC

Jan 18-20, 2006

Click here for the meeting website

Click here for the society website

American Stroke Association
A Division of American Heart Association

International Stroke Conference, Gaylord Palms, Kissimmee, Florida

February 16-18 2006

Click here for the meeting website

Click here for the society website


American Society of Hypertension

Annual meeting

New York City, Hilton Hotel
May 17-20, 2006

Click here for the meeting website

Click here for the society website

European Society of Cardiology

Heart Failure 2006

17 June 2006 - 20 June 2006
Helsinki, Finland
Click here for the meeting website
Click here for the society website


World Congress of Cardiology 2006  
2-6 September 2006 “Bringing together the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2006 and the World Heart Federation's XVth World Congress of Cardiology.”
Barcelona, Spain 
Click here for the meeting website
Click here for the society website


Experimental Biology 2006  

1-5 April 2006

Moscone Convention centre, San Francisco, CA, USA

Click here for the meeting website

Click here for the society website