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Centenary Institute - Medical Research
Centenary Institute - Medical Research

David Richmond Laboratory for Cardiovascular Development: Gene Regulation and Editing Program

The David Richmond Laboratory for Cardiovascular Development: Gene Regulation and Editing is focused on identifying new and innovative therapeutic approaches targeting vascular disease. Abnormalities in the growth and development of these vessels, arteries, capillaries, veins and lymphatic vessels, are associated with human disorders including cardiovascular illness, solid cancer metastasis and inflammatory diseases.

With many of these diseases and disorders having a genetic cause, the team will be looking to determine the molecular events that direct and influence the construction of the ‘vascular tree’ (the network of blood and lymph vessels throughout the body). The aim will be the identification of molecular targets to which novel therapeutics can be first assessed and then generated.

The main focus of the research program will revolve around the biology of a class of protein known as transcription factors (TFs). These proteins act as molecular switches or as the control panel of the genome to turn on and off genetic pathways which drive vascular development.

Until recently TFs were labelled as “undruggable” but recent technology advances have opened up new research directions to efficiently manipulate these targets pharmacologically. The long term goal is to design new treatments that fine-tune gene expression to improve the management of vascular disorders.

Undertaking a highly strategic methodology to this activity, the new laboratory’s research program will be multi-disciplinary in nature, encompassing developmental biology, disease model systems, complemented by biophysics and genomics approaches.

Associate Professor Mathias Francois

Phone: +612 95656100
Email: m.francois@centenary.org.au

Associate Professor Francois, heads the David Richmond Laboratory for Cardiovascular Development: Gene Regulation and Editing at the Centenary Institute. He leads a research team with a focus on identifying new and innovative therapeutic approaches targeting vascular disease.

Having obtained his PhD from University Paris VI in 2004, he then moved to Australia to gain postdoctoral experience with Professor P. Koopman, an expert in the field of sex determination and SOX transcription factors (2005-2011).

His research focuses on the transcriptional control of endothelial cell specification with a major discovery identified a role for Sox18 transcription factor as a molecular switch that controls lymphatic vessel development (lymphangiogenesis) in the embryo and also during cancer metastasis.

Based on this finding, he has developed a novel approach combining developmental genetics, tumour biology and drug discovery to target transcription factors with small molecule inhibitors, peptide mimetic and antibodies with the aim of discovering a new class of anti-angiogenic drugs.

In recognition of his pioneering role in exploring lymphangiogenesis in health and disease he has been awarded 2 NHMRC Career Development Awards to progress his career as a leading scientist in the field of developmental biology.

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