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New IDRM Professor

Congratulations are in order to British Heart Foundation (BHF) Senior Research Fellow Nicola Smart who has been awarded the title of Professor in the recent University of Oxford Recognition of Distinction round.

Nicola Smart Headshot - credit BHF.jpg
Image Credit: British Heart Foundation


Congratulations to Nicola Smart, who has been awarded the title of Professor of Cardiovascular Science. 

Research in the Smart Group has uncovered new therapeutic targets for vascular protection and cardiac regeneration by revealing new insights into how the cardiovascular system forms in the embryo. In one line of research, the lab demonstrated that developmental mechanisms of coronary vessel growth are partially recapitulated in the adult heart after injury. By identifying critical stimuli, such as Thymosin b4, that drive these processes, Smart lab research has revealed the ability to recapture the “embryonic potential” within the adult heart for repair after heart attack. They have also shown that the mechanisms used to promote the formation of stable, smooth muscle-lined vessels in the embryo crucially serve to protect throughout life against diseases, such as atherosclerosis and aortic aneurysm. This led Smart lab researchers to identify a novel regulatory pathway (Thymosin b4 - Filamin A - LRP1) controlling smooth muscle cell behaviour, which may in future be targeted to offer much-needed treatments for vascular disease.

The professorship follows her appointment in May 2022 to the Associate Professorship of Cellular and Integrative Physiology in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.


On receipt of her award, Professor Smart said: “I’m truly honoured and overjoyed to receive this recognition. In large part, it reflects the achievements of the fantastic team of scientists that I’ve been fortunate to work with over the years – they are a constant source of inspiration! Thanks are also due to the many mentors and colleagues who have supported me through the highs and lows to reach this milestone.”

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