Dr Heather is more than just a medical researcher. She’s also a senior lecturer in human physiology, nutrition and exercise at University of Technology Sydney, an iron woman, a single mum, a soccer coach and a community health promoter who tours schools teaching kids about the importance of healthy eating. As if this wasn’t enough, Alison is also an anti-doping crusader who is currently developing her own scientific test to identify drug cheats.
Her dedication to a healthy lifestyle for herself, her kids and her community is in part a response to her research, where she spends her daily life working on atherosclerosis, or the build-up of fats in the arteries around the heart. Atherosclerosis can lead to heart attacks, stroke and death if left untreated; most Australian adults – and even some teenagers – have some level of the disease but don’t know they’re at risk.
Heart disease remains the biggest killer of Australians and rates are on the increase. It can be particularly deadly for men in their 40s and 50s as male sex hormones or “androgens” appear to accelerate the plaque calcification process. One of Alison’s major research projects is trying to establish how an anti-oxidant protein called DHCR24 can protect against the formation of these coronary plaques. Proving that DHCR24 is involved in plaque formation would be a research world-first and would also provide a novel therapeutic target.
Alison’s Group - Gene Regulation Group, are also interested in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, in particular how HDL protects from liver disease caused by inflammation. An inflamed liver eventually leads to insulin resistance, which is followed closely by type 2 diabetes and then heart disease.
Alison’s research has the potential to impact public health across the globe, especially when obesity and heart disease are reaching epidemic proportions in the western world. “Heart disease is the single biggest killer of Australians. This is the epidemic we’re facing.”
Would you like Alison to present at your next event to your work colleagues she is keen to get her message out there. Just contact us on 9241 4300 or via email and we can arrange her to present to your team, work or event.
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