As a Research Fellow at HRI, Dr Siân Cartland is not only breaking stereotypes but also pushing boundaries in the scientific world.
Siân completed her PhD in Sydney after working as a research assistant in both Australia and Oxford, UK. In 2013, she moved to HRI with Dr Mary Kavurma, head of the Vascular Complications Group. She was awarded the HRI Salteri Family Young Achiever Award in 2014 and then in 2017 the HRI Global Interactive Early Career Researcher Award. This was for her first author publication in Scientific Reports, a paper focused on the protective features of the protein TRAIL in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
For the same work, Siân was awarded a Best Oral Early Career Researcher (ECR) Presentation at the joint Australian Atherosclerosis Society, Australian Vascular Biology Society and High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia Scientific Meeting.
An advanced atherosclerotic plaque in the brachiocephalic artery, which supplies blood to the right arm and the head and neck. Image taken by Dr Siân Cartland.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease covers a range of conditions affecting the liver with damage occurring in the absence of excess alcohol.
“Patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease have reduced levels of the protein TRAIL. In lab studies, we found that TRAIL could actually be used in a protective role in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as well as in atherosclerosis and other vascular conditions,” Siân explains. This research on TRAIL is continuing, with further investigation into its effects on disease.
Stepping outside the stereotype of lab-bound scientists, Siân is an active member of HRI and the cardiovascular research community. She is chair of the HRI Work Health and Safety Committee, a member of the Sydney Local Health District Institutional Biosafety Committee, and ECR Representative for the Sydney Cardiovascular Symposium hosted by HRI and Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.
“I enjoy being part of a community and helping that community while contributing to our broader purpose – fighting heart disease,” she says.
For Siân, the fight is personal. With a history of heart disease in her family – grandparents on both sides having died of heart attacks – this has made her motivation to find new ways to detect, prevent and treat heart disease that much stronger.
So far in her career, Siân has found that inspiration comes from true curiosity. “Find something that interests you and that you are passionate about. It can be a powerful driver that helps to keep you focused on that next research breakthrough.”