- Tell us about yourself.
My name is Zach Blaikie, I am currently finishing my PhD research examining the role of vascular smooth muscle cell-specific Nox5 in the context of stroke, small vessel disease, and vascular dementia at the University of Glasgow’s School of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Health.
- What are your research interests?
My research interests include understanding the role of sex differences in the pathophysiology of cerebrovascular disease, particularly examining the role of redox signalling and inflammation in hypertension.
- What are you working on right now?
I am currently finishing off some experiments for my PhD, which will allow us to examine cerebrovascular functionality through myography. This should give us a key understanding of how vascular smooth muscle cell-specific Nox5, in the context of sex differences and vascular ageing, regulates vascular responses. I was also involved in another interesting Nox5 project, led by one of my supervisors Dr Augusto Montezano, examining the role of Nox5 in redox signalling, inflammation and epigenetics in contributing to cardiovascular-renal fibrosis.
- What do you hope to achieve in the field of hypertension over the next 5 years?
By continuing my research career after my PhD, I hope to stay in the field of hypertension, not only because I find the field fascinating, but also because I would like to contribute to the understanding of how hypertension acts as a key facilitator of major other diseases and the mechanisms behind it. I find the interlink between the cardiovascular system and the brain, and how the redox system can influence it positively or negatively very interesting. I also hope that my work will shed some light into the need to better understand the mechanisms of cardiovascular diseases in women.
- What challenges have you faced in your career to date?
I have to say the challenges that the recent COVID-19 pandemic caused to my work’s progress and the work of many. It is hard to look back to what could have been if it hadn’t happened. But I am lucky to be in an environment that allows me to explore and discuss exciting ideas with my peers, which has helped a lot. My “science family” made a big difference and gave me the necessary tools to overcome this challenge.
- Which of your publications are you proudest of and why (please include paper reference)
I am still finishing my PhD and have been involved in articles that are still to come, so watch this space. But I can say for now that I am proud of the data I have generated so far which led to the ISH 2022 abstract presented in Kyoto. I also participated in writing a book chapter with Professor Touyz, my supervisor, which allowed me to get a deeper understanding of the hypertension literature and field, and it was an experience that I treasure a lot.
- What is your favourite manuscript from a lab other than your own?
“Conditional deletion of smooth muscle Cullin-3 causes severe progressive hypertension”
Larry N. Agbor, Anand R. Nair, Jing Wu, Ko-Ting Lu, Deborah R. Davis, Henry L. Keen, Frederick W. Quelle, James A. McCormick, Jeffrey D. Singer, and Curt D.
My favourite manuscript is this very interesting paper which identified that Cullin-3 mutations cause progressive impairment of the NO-sGC-cGMP signalling and elevated Rho kinase activity leading to impaired vascular relaxation and increased arterial stiffness contributing to a hypertensive phenotype. This paper also expanded my views, instigating new ideas for my own work as I have also read that Cullin-3 may be implicated in the regulation of NOTCH signalling.
- What are your passions outside of work?
My main passions outside of work are going to quizzes, playing board games with friends, cooking, and going hillwalking with my partner and puppy.
- What was your highlight of the ISH 2022 meeting in Kyoto?
I really enjoyed the ISH New Investigators event where I was not only able to present my research, but also to listen to and interact with other exciting early career researchers in the field of hypertension. I have met some incredible people there! I also was incredibly proud to share this experience with many of my Touyz lab family, including Professor Touyz, Guto, Livia, Francisco and Jithin.