Meet the team: Bob Lee

Meet the team
As a Kiwi transplant, Bob Lee has experienced the research environment on both sides of the Tasman Sea.

Originally from Christchurch, Bob studied physiology at the University of Otago. “Learning about the cardiovascular system was fascinating, especially due to the implications of heart disease on health.”

Moving to Sydney was a leap of faith. “I didn’t have a job lined up, but the research opportunities in Australia are far greater than in New Zealand. So I took a chance,” Bob says. “There are some heart research groups back home, but none that I’m aware of doing breakthrough work like what we have in Australia.”

As a PhD candidate in the Applied Materials group led by Dr Steven Wise, Bob is currently working on developing new synthetic vascular graft models. Vascular grafts are used for coronary bypasses after an event like a heart attack, to ‘bypass’ the blocked artery, but current grafts are poorly designed and often clog again within a year.

“The drive behind our project is to develop a graft that lasts longer and can be used off-the-shelf for all types of patients,” Bob explains.

But while his life is currently in Sydney, where the HRI is based, the ties to home remain strong for Bob. “I’ve learned so many techniques and research skills while I’ve been here. However, eventually I’ll return to New Zealand – it’s home to me – and I’ll be able to bring all that experience with me.

“And even now, we’re in constant collaboration with universities back home. The great thing is that both countries are essentially under the same roof for things like the medical system, so once we develop something in Australia, it can easily be adopted in New Zealand. So whichever country the research is based in, we’re all working towards the same goal. Even if we’re miles apart.”

Research can be full of highs and lows, but Bob is passionate about it. “You have to be persistent – almost stubborn, I would say – in science. That’s what drives you and pushes you over the edge to discover something new and amazing.”

Previous
Next

Related news

HRI: A modern workplace for collaboration

The Heart Research Institute is proud to be featured at Microsoft Inspire 2018 as an organisation that has digitally transformed into a modern workplace, enabling it to stay at the leading edge of cardiovascular research.
Read more

Meet the team: Dr Melissa Farnham

Born and raised in Nevada, USA, Dr Melissa Farnham originally had no interest in research. Now Unit Leader of the High Blood Pressure Group at HRI, and balancing the challenges of family and work, she couldn’t imagine any other career path.

Read more

Big-hearted investment to save Australian lives

The NSW Government has unveiled bold ambitions to become the premier state for cardiovascular disease with a $150 million funding package to fight the resurgence of the deadly condition.
Read more