Basic Cardiovascular Research, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute

Dr Nicola J. Smith’s work looks at cardiovascular disease, an illness which in 2008 claimed the lives of nearly 50,000 Australians and affects the health of millions more. Her work is focused on understanding how novel proteins contribute to high blood pressure, allowing for the development for more effective drugs with fewer side effects. She is also investigating proteins active in obesity, an increasingly prevalent condition in Australia and also a major complicating factor leading to cardiovascular disease. In her investigation, Nicola determined a chemical rule that can be used to predict whether particular proteins would interact with fatty acid receptors.

As student president of the Baker Institute where she completed her PhD prior to joining the VCCRI, Nicola has been highly involved in communicating hers and others research to the wider community. She has shared her passion for science through numerous media, such as on community radio with renowned science communicator ‘Dr Andi’. Nicola has spoken to regional, rural and metropolitan high school students about her work and the developments in medical science, initiated several training courses focussed on the importance of public dissemination of her work as well as organised a media campaign for the Australian Society for Medical Research to highlight the exciting work of young medical researchers.