International Society of Hypertension

New Investigators Network

New Investigator Network
Member Spotlight


December 2011 Spotlight - Francine Marques

Francine Marques

University of Ballarat
Australia /

Current Position:

Oct 2011–present: Postdoctoral Research Fellow (genetics and molecular biology)

Fellowship from the Australian Government under the Collaborative Research Networks (CRN) – University of Ballarat and University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Supervisors: Prof. Fadi Charchar and Dr. Scott Nankervis (University of Ballarat), and Prof. Stephen Harrap (University of Melbourne)

Projects: i) Role of microRNAs in cardiac hypertrophy and failure; ii) Molecular genetic basis of essential hypertension.

Previous Training/Positions:

2005: Bachelor of Biological Sciences, majoring in Molecular, Cellular and Functional (Honours) - Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil

2006: Master of Molecular Biology and Genetics - UFRGS, Brazil

2006-2008: Research Assistant (human molecular genetics) - University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

2011: Doctor of Philosophy (Faculty of Medicine) - University of Sydney, Sydney Medical School (Physiology) and Bosch Institute, Australia

When did you become interested in research relating to Hypertension?

I have been working with human genetics for more than 8 years, but it was only when I started my PhD in 2008 with Prof Brian Morris that I have become involved in hypertension.

Describe your research interest & the research program that you are in?

I am interested in the molecular genetics of cardiovascular diseases, including essential hypertension, cardiac hypertrophy and coronary artery disease. My research focuses especially in finding genes, polymorphisms and molecular pathways that can increase the predisposition for these conditions, and also microRNAs (miRNAs), small non-coding RNAs which can down-regulate gene expression levels, involved in the regulation of these genes.

How did you know about ISH and its activities?

My PhD supervisor gave me a lot of incentive to become a ISH Research Fellow and to register for the ISH Annual Meeting last year, but I have also have seen it in newsletters from the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia (HBPRCA).

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

We have recently published a very exciting study where we identified some miRNAs that target renin mRNA in the kidney of hypertensive subjects. (PubMed PMID: 22042811.)

Which conference did you first attend & which one did you first present in?

My first conference was in 2003, the 49th Brazilian Congress of Genetics, in Brazil, where I had a poster.

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

In December I am attending the HBPRCA Annual Meeting in Perth, Australia, where I have been selected for the student oral presentation award. In 2012, I have registered for the Human Genome Meeting, which is going to be in Sydney, and I will be also attending the ISH meeting for sure. The furthest I have travelled for a conference was from Australia to Canada, to attend the ISH meeting last year.

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

My favourite manuscript changes all the time, depending on what I am working at the moment. My new favourite manuscript is McDermott-Roe et al. (2011) (PubMed PMID: 21979051), because of their exciting results and the diversity of techniques used.

What entity (i.e. equipment, patient population) is essential to your research?

A real-time PCR machine has been my best friend in the lab during the past 3 years, but also DNA and RNA samples from hypertensive and normotensive subjects, as well as from animal models, are essential.

Describe your most memorable (proudest) moment and a challenging instance in your research career so far?

Last year I won the Genomics Trainee Attendance Award in a satellite meeting of the ISH meeting, the 14th International SHR Symposium, in Montreal, Canada. I was very proud because the abstract was based on a study which I designed myself. (PubMed PMID: 20585107).

I am originally from Brazil, so it was a big challenge to do my PhD in Australia, due to the differences in language, but also in culture and the distance from my family. But I couldn’t be happier to have accepted this challenge. It has changed my career and life dramatically, and I would highly recommend young scientists to do the same.  

What area of research do you wish you knew more about?

Although physiology is not the focus of my research, there is an increasing need for collaborations between molecular geneticists and physiologists. This is fascinating and I am really looking forward some physiological experiments next year. Moreover my field is evolving very quickly, and it is quite hard to keep up to date with all techniques available. I would love to learn more techniques in epigenetics and also have some hands-on experience on next-generation sequencing. 

Do you have any suggestions for other young scientists?

The best suggestion I can give is to work hard. There is a really nice interview with Nobel laureate Oliver Smithies published early this year that I would recommend to every young scientist (Williams R. Oliver Smithies: born inventor. Circ Res. 2011; 108:650-2. PubMed PMID: 21415407). Williams does a great job by summarizing his interview with Smithies with the sentence: “No matter how smart you are, if you don’t work hard, you will never make it”.



Latest Tweets:

The ISH is positively committed to opposing discrimination against people on the grounds of gender, race, colour, nationality, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, class, age, disability, having dependants, HIV status or perceived lifestyle.