Dr Mary Kavurma

BSc, PhD
Our mission is to understand fundamental mechanisms in molecular and cellular biology leading to cardiovascular diseases.

Dr Mary Kavurma received her PhD in 2003 from the Centre for Vascular Research at The University of New South Wales, Australia. In 2004, she was awarded a CJ Martin Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia, to undertake research at the University of Cambridge, UK. In 2007, Mary returned to the Centre for Vascular Research, where she was appointed Group Leader. In 2013, she joined the HRI as Head of the Vascular Complications Group. She is currently a recipient of a Heart Foundation Career Development Fellowship. Mary also has an active interest in promoting medical research to the lay community: her achievements in scientific research, communication and community engagement were acknowledged with a Young Tall Poppy Science Award in 2009.

Current Appointments

Group Leader - Vascular Complications

Heart Research Institute


Heart Foundation of Australia

Conjoint Senior Lecturer

The University of Sydney

Conjoint Senior Lecturer

University of New South Wales


Australian Vascular Biology Society Committee

Director, SCOLAR

Australian Atherosclerosis Society


Sydney Local Health District Animals Ethics Committe


Dr Mary Kavurma leads group:
Research covers areas of:
Contact Dr Mary Kavurma
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More About Dr Mary Kavurma

Research Project Opportunities
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Vascular calcification

Vascular calcification is increasingly recognised as a problem with aging, in patients with atherosclerosis, as well as in diabetes mellitus and chronic kidney diseases. The pathobiology of vascular calcification is not fully established, and current therapy is linked to preventing disordered bone and mineral metabolism by lowering the circulating levels of both phosphate and calcium. Understanding why and how blood vessels become calcified may lead to the development of new and better therapeutics.

Markers of oxidative stress in atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of mortality in the world and a financial burden on healthcare. It is a condition where vascular cells, inflammatory cells, lipids, cholesterol and cellular waste accumulate producing a thickened arterial wall. Oxidative stress is increasingly implicated in the development of atherosclerosis. This project will investigate the gene expression profiles of oxidants and anti-oxidants between diseased and non-diseased arteries, and correlate these with levels of vascular inflammation.

Regulation of insulin

TRAIL is a protein discovered and named with regards to its ability to promote cell death by binding its specific death receptors. It is now recognised that TRAIL signals can also promote non-apoptotic functions such as cell survival, proliferation, migration and differentiation. We recently discovered a novel protective function for TRAIL. In particular, TRAIL-deficient mice not only displayed accelerated atherosclerosis, but also developed features of diabetes e.g. weight gain, adiposity, hyperglycemia and hypoinsulinemia. These suggest that the presence of TRAIL may improve glucose and insulin metabolism. Whether TRAIL regulates insulin expression/secretion directly is unknown. This project seeks to understand how insulin is regulated under normal conditions and dysregulated during diabetes. These studies may lead to improved therapeutics in the treatment of glucose disorders in people.

Featured Publication
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For a full list of Doctor Mary Kavurma's publications, please click here
Awards for Research
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2009       Australian Institute of Policy and Science Young Tall Poppy Science Award
2003       The Australian Society for Medical Research - Research Award
2003       Australian Vascular Biology Society Young Investigator Award
2002       Australian Vascular Biology Society Student Travel Award
2002       Australian Vascular Biology Society Travel Fellowship
2001       Australian Vascular Biology Society Young Investigator Award
2001       UNSW Department of Pathology Travel Award
2003     PhD, University of New South Wales, ‘Molecular Mechanisms regulating proliferation and apoptosis in vascular smooth muscle cells’
1998     Bachelor of Science (Hons), Macquarie University


Current Research Grants
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Heart Foundation Career Development Fellowship, 2015
University of Sydney Early Career Researcher Grant, Supporting Dr. Sian Cartland, 2015
University of Sydney Early Career Researcher Grant, Supporting Dr. Belinda Di Bartolo, 2015
Professional Activities
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Membership of Professional Bodies

American Heart Association, since 2014

European Atherosclerosis Society, since 2013

Australian Society for Medical Research, since 2000

Australian Vascular Biology Society, since 2000

Australian Atherosclerosis Society, since 2007

Australian Institute of Policy and Science - Associate Member, since 2010

Peer review Commitments

External assessor for New Zealand A+ Trust Research Fund

External assessor for NHMRC Project Grants and Senior Research Fellowships

External assessor for DART

External assessor for ARC

NHMRC Grant Panel 2011, 2015

Heart Foundation Biomed-Postgraduate Scholarships Committee

Kavurma MM, Di Bartolo BA, Cartland SP and Griffith TS. Provisional US patent (62/079, 488): “TRAIL: Compositions and Methods for Treating Wound Healing”