Spotlight on:
Dr. Jordan Thorpe, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute

Can you give us a brief introduction?
I am a stem cell researcher and was awarded my PhD from the University of Nottingham (UK) in 2019. Since I have been at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute I have been working on the development of stem cell derived engineered atrial cardiac tissues of increasing complexity and scale. My research interests are investigating the role of inflammation in the development of atrial fibrillation, generating infectious disease models of cardiac inflammation, and studying cardiac-immune interactions.

Can you describe the research project funded by the CVMM Theme?
Acute rheumatic fever disproportionately affects the indigenous community in Australia and is caused by untreated/severe infection by S. pyogenes bacterium. Affected individuals undergo an autoimmune reaction causing heart problems, including rapid and irregular beating known as atrial fibrillation.

In this research project we collect human tonsils, which are typically the site of S. pyogenes infection and infect them in the laboratory to create a mixture that triggers a similar immune response seen in patients. We apply this autoimmune response to human atrial heart tissue grown from stem cells and study the mechanisms underlying the cardiac damage and atrial fibrillation.

How did the CVMM Funding support your research?
The CVMM funding has supported our research goals of developing models of pathogen induced atrial fibrillation, primarily by forming the cross-lab and institution collaboration to combine stem cell derived cardiac tissues with infected human tonsil models. Initial data generated has facilitated further funding applications with Perpetual and the 3Rs scheme.

We're always looking for a good book to read or show to stream. Any recommendations?
I am a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy, having recently been listening to Foundation and the Dune series on audiobook, which was great to do before seeing the latest Dune film cinema. Outside of sci-fi, Greselda was a great watch on Netflix!