Dr Anna Waterhouse joins HRI as Group Leader

Research Updates
The HRI is pleased to welcome Dr Anna Waterhouse as Group Leader of the Cardiovascular Medical Devices Group and Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney.

Dr Waterhouse’s research focuses on how medical devices – such as artificial hearts, stents and bypass machines – interact with the body. Her aim is to understand the interactions of medical devices with patients’ blood, proteins and cells to develop more sophisticated and compatible materials.

“Despite the widespread use of medical devices in cardiovascular medicine, including artificial hearts, vascular stents, vascular grafts, heart valves, pacemakers, catheters and cardiopulmonary bypass circuits, many side effects occur due to the materials used to make these devices. This can include blood clots (thrombosis) and microbe adhesion (biofouling),” she said.

Current treatments for clotting and adhesion involve medication and antibiotics that can lead to further complications.

“Increased understanding of material-patient interactions and better understanding of the methodology needed to assess materials could lead to the development of new, more compatible materials and devices to reduce the use of drugs and risks for patients,” says Dr Waterhouse.

Anna’s research combines engineering approaches with physical, chemical and biological modification of materials to develop these new methodologies and materials.

“Our goal is to understand the interactions of medical devices with patients’ blood, proteins and cells in order to develop more sophisticated and compatible materials."

"These new materials will ultimately help better detect and treat cardiovascular disease in patients,” says Anna.

“In some cases this means altering the surface of the material to prevent clotting, or in other cases, we are trying to make biomolecules adhere to the surface. In all cases, we’re trying to make the materials better integrate with the body.”

Dr Waterhouse returns to the HRI from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University where she was a Research Scientist and completed her post-doctoral fellowship. Dr Waterhouse received her PhD from the University of Sydney and the Heart Research Institute in (2011), researching biomimetic coronary stent coatings to treat coronary artery disease under the supervision of Prof Tony Weiss, Assoc Prof Ng and Prof Bilek.

Dr Waterhouse is the recipient of an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA).

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