While working full time as a dental practitioner, I completed a PGDipSc and went on to further part-time studies and was awarded a PhD in 2003. Having gained valuable research skills in histology, immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy, I became an Honorary Research Fellow in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry in 2004. Because of limited research opportunities in Western Australia, and raising a family, I continued working as a full-time dentist while donating my time outside of work hours to furthering knowledge in vascular biology as it pertains to tooth development. This led to a sole author paper in 2006 that promoted the use of human teeth as an in vivo model for the study of physiologic angiogenesis. In 2009 I became a Senior Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Anatomy and Human Biology within the Faculty of Life and Physical Sciences.
Thesis ‘A morphologic study of physiologic angiogenesis using the corpus luteum of the pregnant rat as an in vivo model’.
The investigation of the structural events contributing to angiogenesis has a widespread application to understanding tumour growth, inflammation, wound healing and a variety of other diseases where abnormal vascular development is the dominant pathology.
Not only did my investigations provide a detailed account of the cellular pattern of physiologic angiogenesis, it was also coupled to a stereologic study, which related the growth of the capillaries within the corpus luteum to development of that tissue as a transient endocrine organ. This involved relating alterations in endothelial cell shape, surface area of endothelial cell membrane available for trans-capillary exchange and thinness of the endothelium to the functional demand of the surrounding steroid-secreting luteal cells.
Novel findings reported in my thesis were that, in the pregnant rat corpus luteum,
i) Pericytes precede endothelial during vascularisation of the corpus luteum.
ii) Pericytes can contribute to the developing vessel wall during angiogenesis.
iii) Apoptosis does not affect endothelial cells and pericytes up to day 22 (parturition) of pregnancy.
The influence of secreted frizzled-related protein 4 on cancer stem cells
Australian Dental Research Foundation
The role of sFRP4 in blocking cancer growth