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Murray Polkinghorne

MBChB (UCT), MPhil (Cantab)

DPhil Student

I am from South Africa and completed my medical training at the University of Cape Town before receiving the Cecil Renaud Scholarship to read for an MPhil in Translational Biomedical Research at the University of Cambridge. I subsequently received the RDM Scholarship and Clarendon Fund Award to read for a DPhil in Medical Sciences at Balliol College, Oxford where I am working under the supervision of Professor Antoniades and Professor Channon in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.

My research focuses on cross-talk between adipose tissue and the cardiovascular system, specifically investigating the mechanistic links between DPP4-substrates, vascular redox signalling and cardiovascular disease outcomes.

Obesity and diabetes have well-established associations with cardiovascular disease, and work from our group has identified adipose tissue as a dynamic source of bioactive molecules with direct effects on myocardial and vascular function. Owing to these metabolic derangements, dysfunctional adipose tissue secretes a wide-range of pro-inflammatory adipocytokines which promote diseases such as atherosclerosis. 

Further work from our group has shown that vascular insulin resistance results in increased vascular oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction in the presence of insulin, acting as a key mediator of atherosclerosis progression.

My project will incorporate various ex vivo techniques, statistical genetics and machine-learning approaches to assess, on multiple levels, how DPP4-substrates might potentiate a switch to physiological insulin signalling in patients with cardiometabolic disease. This will make use of human tissue from the Oxford cohort of Heart, Vessels, and Fat (Ox-HVF), an actively maintained bioresource that will allow for unique investigations into the effects of obesity and diabetes on cardiovascular redox signalling.