Hamilton scientist joins work towards a cure

Meet the team
A number of talented New Zealand scientists work at HRI headquarters in Sydney. 
Tim McMahon speaks to Luke Hall about his role at the HRI. 

After completing his Bachelor of Science and Masters in Science at the University of Waikato, Hamilton born and bred Luke Hall was ready to take the next step of his career.

While searching for PhD projects online he came across a past PhD project advertised from The Heart Research Institute. He contacted the proposed supervisor to see if there were any other similar projects. Fortunately the HRI was in the process of preparing another project which was even more relevant to Luke’s studies. 

After visiting the visiting the HRI for an interview, to see the see the facilities and to meet the team, Luke was sold. ‘The rest,’ he says ‘is history’.

Luke joined HRI’s Free Radical Group where his current project is examining the role of thiocyanate, a compound found in certain nuts and vegetables as well as a detoxification product of cyanide from cigarette smoke, on cardiovascular disease. 

“Cell based studies tend to find that thiocyanate has a negative impact while clinical studies tend to suggest a positive effect, leading to some controversy in the literature as to the exact role of thiocyanate in the setting of cardiovascular disease,” Luke explains. 

“Hopefully, by the end of my project we will have a better idea whether thiocyanate is beneficial or detrimental in the context of both atherosclerosis and heart attacks. If it is beneficial, thiocyanate may be a cheap and easy way of reducing the incidence of heart disease.”

Luke is well aware that regular donations are really what makes all this possible.

“There are many great people at HRI striving to make crucial discoveries to ultimately better global heart and cardiovascular health every day," says Luke

“With finite funding, often stumbling blocks are purely monetary based. Therefore, every dollar donated is valued and has the potential to make a huge difference."

"I hope to figure out my small piece of the puzzle of cardiovascular disease, so that one day what I learn can potentially contribute to a cure.”

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