The UQ Centre for Cardiac & Vascular Biology brings together researchers across
The University of Queensland

cardiac & vascular biology logo

About Us

The UQ Centre for Cardiac and Vascular Biology (CCVB) brings together researchers from The University of Queensland with a common goal, to investigate vertebrate cardiac and vascular biology with a focus on development, regeneration and disease.


We are eight independent research labs led by Justin Cooper-White, Mathias Francois, Ben Hogan, James Hudson, Peter Little, Nathan Palpant, Kelly Smith and Wally Thomas located at The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. We are based within the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (Francois, Hogan, Palpant, Smith), the Australian Institute for Bioengineering & Nanotechnology (Cooper-White), the School of Biomedical Sciences within UQ's Faculty of Medicine (Hudson, Thomas) and the School of Pharmacy within the UQ's Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences (Little). Our program is focused on research excellence in Cardiac & Vascular Biology.


Each of our teams brings a specific area of expertise to the centre.

Cooper-White Laboratory - tissue engineering and microfluidics

Francois Laboratory - transcriptional regulation of blood vessels
Hogan Laboratory - vascular developmental biology
Hudson Laboratory - muscle tissue engineering and cardiac regeneration

Little Laboratory - atherosclerosis research
Palpant Laboratory - stem cells and cardiovascular development
Smith Laboratory - cardiac morphogenesis
Thomas Laboratory - receptor biology in cardiac disease

Hence our multidisciplinary, collaborative and integrated research centre covers several different aspects of cardiovascular development, regeneration and disease. Our labs are filled with talented and passionate scientists. Select a group to find out more about our eight teams.









Our values

Our vision is to build a world-class, multidisciplinary centre of researchers focussed on central aspects of cardiac and vascular biology, development, regeneration and disease.

Our mission is to advance our knowledge of cardiac and vascular biology. By discovering more about the genes, molecules and cellular processes controlling vessel formation and vascularisation, heart development and cardiovascular regeneration, we aim to generate new directions in the hunt for future therapeutics.

Our research includes high-throughput genetic approaches for gene discovery, innovative microscopic approaches to visualise cellular and developmental processes, stem cell engineering, engineered microfluidic devices, small molecule screens and regenerative biology. We study cardiac and vascular processes at the organismal, tissue, cellular, individual protein and gene level resolution. In science, technology is always improving. We strongly believe in keeping up with these advancements, as well as creating our own. We are constantly developing and engineering new techniques, protocols and research tools.


We investigate

  • Vascular development and cancer

    We aim to understand how the blood and lymphatic vascular lineages form during embryonic development and use both zebrafish and mouse model systems. The molecules that control new vessel formation during embryogenesis, also control new vessel formation in pathological processes, such as in vascular disease and cancer metastasis as well as during tissue repair. Improving our fundamental knowledge of the genes, cells and molecular processes that control new vessel formation will allow us to develop innovative new approaches to manipulate vessel formation in diverse settings. As well as understanding fundamental questions in development, genetics and cell biology, we also use new knowledge to develop platforms for small molecule screening and disease genetics.

  • Cardiac development

    For the heart to grow, reorganise its shape and develop specialised structures, complex cellular alterations must occur. These include differentiation of new cardiac tissue, changes in cell identity, production or degradation of extracellular matrix, cell shape changes, modifications in cell-cell contacts and cell proliferation. We are investigating the genes, molecules and cellular mechanics driving these changes in the heart as it develops. We do this by examining mutants with defects in specific cardiac structures or function (using both zebrafish and mouse models), by analysing gene expression profiles in embryogenesis models of cardiac development and by lineage tracing cardiac stem cells as they differentiate. Expanding our fundamental knowledge of heart development provides a framework for understanding inherited and acquired cardiac disease in humans.

  • Cardiovascular disease

    We map genes involved in cardiac and vascular diseases in human patients, with a focus on congenital heart defects, lymphoedema and vascular anomalies. We use pre-clinical mouse and zebrafish models of cancer, heart disease, lymphoedema and vascular malformation to understand the primary molecular causes of these diseases. This research is part of the IMB Centre for Rare Disease Research.

  • Regeneration, tissue engineering and drug discovery

    The neonatal mouse heart can mount a robust regenerative response following multiple types of cardiac injury. The molecular mechanisms that regulate cardiomyocyte proliferative potential and cardiac regenerative capacity in mammals are poorly understood. We are trying to unravel the molecular mechanisms that drive cardiac regeneration, by mapping gene regulatory networks and using bioengineered heart muscle to study heart maturation. We are also performing functional genomic screens for cardiovascular drug discovery, and we are using stem cell biology, materials science, engineering and microfluidics to examine the basic signals needed to repair and regenerate diseased or damaged cardiac muscle and vascular tissue.

Some stats

  • 8


  • 65


  • 79


  • 712


  • 21973


  • 157

    Grants awarded

  • 25

    PhD students

  • 37


Our research has been generously supported by

UQ Centre for Cardiac and Vascular Biology, The University of Queensland

Our research has been published in a range of high-impact journals