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International Society of Hypertension

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March 2012 Spotlight - Lisa Bloomer

Lisa Bloomer

Department of Cardiovascular Sciences
University of Leicester. U.K.
Leicester, UK

How did you become interested in research relating to Hypertension?

I first became interested in hypertension during my undergraduate degree in Plymouth, UK. One of the local senior lecturers in Genetics spoke about the sexual dimorphism of cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, and its role in increasing prevalence of CVD in men. This caught my interest and I started researching for PhD opportunities in this area. I applied to, and won, a competitive PhD placement in the department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester supervised by Dr M Tomaszewski, Mr M Bown and Dr N Samani. 

Describe your research & the program/lab (info of your supervisor) that you are in?

My current research focuses on the role of the Y chromosome in coronary artery disease (CAD) and abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). Previous research showed that genetic variation in the Y chromosome is associated with CAD. Using genetic association studies and functional gene expression analysis of the ancient paternal lineages I hoped to identify how the Y chromosome increases risk of CAD. I also hypothesised that CAD and AAA share a common pathogenesis and as such the same variant in the Y chromosome may predispose to both disorders.

What do you consider to be your substantial scientific contribution so far (provide Pubmed PMID if possible)?

We investigated the role of the Y chromosome in CAD and found that one haplogroup of the Y chromosome predisposes its carriers to CAD independent to all other cardiovascular risk factors. My pathway analysis of transcriptome data showed that this haplogroup of the Y chromosome is associated with immunological dysfunction in human macrophages. This most likely translates into increased risk of CAD. This research should help to elucidate why some men are at higher risk of CAD than other men and women. 

What is your favourite manuscript from a lab other than your own (provide Pubmed PMID if possible)?

PMID: 12897772

What facilities are essential for your research?

I have learnt that the most important requirement for my research is well characterised and well maintained study populations. Without resources with appropriate phenotype information no valuable research can be completed.

Where do your research strengths lie? Why? What are your research weaknesses? How will you improve?

I think my biggest research strength lies in my determination and ability to learn and take onboard information. Research very rarely goes as planned and to succeed and get answers to your research questions takes time, resolve and the ability to adapt! My biggest research weakness is my lack of knowledge of computer programming languages. Computer programming and script writing are increasing in important in genetics and improving my skills in this area, through taught courses and practice, is very important. 

Describe your unforgettable (proudest) moment in science, and the most challenging instance that you had to overcome (lessons learnt) so far?

My most proud scientific moment is, without doubt, when I was first told that our paper “Inheritance of coronary artery disease in men: an analysis of the role of the Y chromosome” (DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60200-1) was accepted into the Lancet. The biggest lesson have learnt to date is that organisation really is the key! Without detailed information on what you are doing and plan to do, important details get lost and major research problems can occur!

Which conference did you first present in? How was your experience?

My first presentation was at the Leena Peltonen Summer School of Human Genomics (Cambridge). I thoroughly enjoying this meeting and the experience of presenting to individuals ranging from fellow PhD students to professors was unforgettable.

What upcoming conferences will you be attending, and what is the furthest you have traveled for a conference?

I plan to submit an abstract to and attend the ISH conference in Sydney 2012. Attending this conference will be the furthest I will have traveled for a conference. 

How did you know about ISH/NIN and its activities?

My supervisor, Dr Tomaszewski, first helped me join the ISH. He showed me how ISH can support my research and future career.

What area(s) do you wish to specialize in the future?

My primary research interest revolves around discovering the reasons for sexual dimorphism in the prevalence of common, complex diseases such as coronary artery disease and autism.

Who is your role model in research? Why?

I have two role models; Mark Jobling and Chris Tyler-Smith. They are the founding fathers of Y chromosome research and genetics. Their work has changed how people perceive the Y chromosome; from a genetic waste land soon to be extinct to a chromosome possibly harbouring insights into disease pathogenesis. 

What are your scientific goals? Advise for talented emerging scientists?

Eventually I would like my own research group investigating sexual dimorphism of disease. The best advice I was given was to never lose faith in your own ability; studying for a PhD and having a career in research is a rollercoaster but even when you are down never stop believing in yourself and this will eventually pay off.

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