Kiwi scientist leading the world in blood vessel regrowth

Meet the team
We’re lucky to have a number of talented New Zealand scientists working at the HRI headquarters in Sydney. Tim McMahon spoke to Zoe Clayton about her role at the HRI. 

When Zoe Clayton finished her Bachelor of Science and Masters of Physiology at the University of Auckland, she started looking around for somewhere to complete her PhD. 

Zoe says she was attracted to the Heart Research Institute because of its close ties with The University of Sydney, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and now The Charles Perkins Centre - a state of the art centre of excellence in obesity, cardiovascular and diabetes research. 

“I looked for jobs in New Zealand  and in Australia, but the advice given to me by more senior scientists was to leave New Zealand for the PhD and gain experience internationally at other institutions, so when the opportunity came up at HRI I took it.” 

Join the HRI more than three years ago as a research assistant, Zoe now works in the Cell Therapeutics Group, led by Dr Sanjay Patel, conducting groundbreaking research into blood vessel regrowth with the potential to help patients with cardiovascular disease. 

“I’m working with induced pluripotent stem cell derived endothelial cells and induced endothelial cells, investigating the ability of these novel cell types to promote new blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) in cardiovascular disease settings” she says.  

“My biggest aim at the moment is to successfully complete my PhD and hopefully demonstrate that the cell types I’m working with have therapeutic potential,” says Zoe.

Returning to New Zealand two or three times a year, Zoe says she misses “friends, family, Kiwi summers at the beach and Pixie caramel bars”.

“At this stage, my longer-term goal is to stay in research and pursue a postdoctoral fellowship after finishing my PhD. Ideally something in the stem cell field or in the regulation of angiogenesis/strategies for achieving therapeutic angiogenesis.” 

“I want to get as much out of living and working overseas as I possibly can.”

And she has a message to the generous New Zealanders who make her work possible:

“To anybody already donating to The Heart Research Institute, I would say a very big thank you.” 

"The donations made to HRI make a huge difference. They’ve provided us with excellent facilities, consumables and equipment, so we have access to the resources we need to do great research in a timely manner.” 

“Donations to HRI also help young/early career scientists get started in research and allow us to work on projects that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to pursue”.

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