Dr Asif J Iqbal
Birmingham Fellow | Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences
Where were you previously located?
Previously, I was a postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Professor David Greaves, University of Oxford. The post was funded by the British Heart Foundation, examining the role of monocytes and macrophages in atherosclerosis.
What attracted you to the University of Birmingham?
The Birmingham Fellowship! It’s an amazing scheme that is very unique as it provides five years of research protected time, before transferring to a research and teaching post. This allows you to develop projects, networks and a research team without the pressure of teaching and administrative duties.
The Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences is a fantastic institute that carries out world-leading research in thrombo-inflammation and provides specialist facilities for in vivo experiments, mouse models of atherosclerosis and imaging leukocyte recruitment from flow. I was also very impressed with the strong collaborative ethos in the institute, with links to clinical colleagues and integrated NHS Trusts enabling translation of findings, accelerated through the new Institute of Translational Medicine.
What are you hoping to accomplish while in Birmingham?
I have been studying the role of inflammation in cardiovascular disease and other chronic inflammatory pathologies and how we can harness endogenous mediators to regulate this process. Inflammation has been the central theme throughout my research, with particular emphasis on the anti-inflammatory mechanisms at play in both acute and chronic immune models of inflammation.
My doctoral training focused on the galectins and their role in regulating leukocyte trafficking and activation of immune cells. My post-doctoral research was centred on the role chemokines play in monocyte and macrophage recruitment in the context of atherosclerosis.
With the support of my current fellowship I aim to bring these themes together; to investigate the actions of the galectins in pre-clinical models of vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis, and the mechanisms by which they regulate monocyte recruitment.
What medical discovery are you hoping will be achieved in your lifetime?
Coronary artery disease (CAD) – the build-up of cholesterol-laden plaque in the heart's arteries – is by far the most prevalent life-threatening heart condition and remains the leading causing of death worldwide. I think the biggest medical breakthrough I could hope for in my lifetime would be the development of treatments to prevent CAD by reversing plaque progression.
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