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Professor Dipak Ramji

Professor Dipak Ramji

Deputy Head of School

School of Biosciences

Email
ramji@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 6753
Fax:
+44 (0)29 2087 4116
Campuses
C/4.17, Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

Inflammation, Atherosclerosis, Cardiovascular Disease and Regulation of Gene Expression

The overall focus of research in my laboratory is on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the changes in key cellular processes during inflammatory disorders such as atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease with the goal of identifying new therapeutic/preventative targets/avenues.

My research employs a combination of cell culture and mouse model systems coupled with molecular, biochemical, immunological and pharmacological approaches.

Specific focus is on understanding how inflammation via cytokines regulates key processes associated with the development of atherosclerosis together with the molecular mechanisms underlying the actions of natural products (nutraceuticals) in the prevention and treatment of this disease.

Nutraceuticals investigated include polyunsaturated fatty acids, polyphenols and probiotic bacteria.

Previous and current research has been funded by grants from the British Heart Foundation, Wellcome Trust, BBSRC, MRC, EU, International Governments and Industry.

Roles

  • Deputy Head of Cardiff School of Biosciences
  • Member of College of Biomedical and Life Sciences Workload Modelling Group at Cardiff University
  • Member of Biological Standards Committee at Cardiff University
  • Member of Race Equality Steering Group: Research Sub-Committee at Cardiff University
  • External Examiner for BSc Bioscience Programme at University of Limerick
  • External Examiner for MSc in Translational Cardiovascular Medicine at University of Bristol
  • External Examiner for MBiol/BSc Biological Sciences & MBiol/BSc Biological Sciences (Biotechnology with Enterprise) programmes at University of Leeds

Interested in joining my lab as a self-funded post-graduate student or a postdoc/fellow? Please contact me by email.

Biography

October 2021-Present: Deputy Head, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

October 2020-September 2021: Deputy Head of Biomedicine Division, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

October 2019-September 2020: Acting Head of Biomedicine Division, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

August 2017-Present: Professor of Cardiovascular Science, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

October 2009-September 2021: Postgraduate Tutor for Biomedicine Division, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

August 2006-July 2017: Reader, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

August 2003-July 2006: Senior Lecturer, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

August 1992-July 2003: Lecturer, School of Molecular and Medical Biosciences, Cardiff University

Jan 1991-June 1992: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Istituto Di Ricerche Di Biologia Molecolare P. Angeletti (IRBM), Rome. Fellowship from EU

October 1988-December 1990: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Heidelberg. Fellowship from Royal Society

1988: PhD (Molecular Biology), Department of Biochemistry, University of Leeds

1984: BSc (Hons) Biochemistry, Class 2(1), Department of Biochemistry, University of Leeds

Publications

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Teaching

Lectures on Molecular Biology to 1st Year Dentistry Students.

Practicals on Biochemistry to 1st Year Dentistry Students.

Inflammation, Atherosclerosis, Cardiovascular Disease and Regulation of Gene Expression

The overall aim of research in my laboratory is to understand how cytokines and other disease-associated factors regulate key cellular processes during inflammatory disorders with the goal of identifying new therapeutic/preventative targets/avenues. In particular, we are elucidating the pathways leading from the interaction of such factors with their receptors, through the intracellular signalling cascades, to the control of gene expression in the nucleus and the subsequent regulation of cellular processes. Research uses a combination of cell culture and mouse model systems coupled with molecular, biochemical, immunological and pharmacological approaches. Previous and current research has been funded by grants from the British Heart Foundation, Wellcome Trust, BBSRC, MRC, EU, International Governments and Industry. Our research is focused on two major areas:

Regulation of macrophage processes during atherosclerosis with focus on the actions of cytokines

Atherosclerosis and its complications, such as myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular accident, are responsible for more deaths worldwide than any other disease. Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disorder of medium and large arteries (Figure 1) orchestrated by cytokines. Macrophages play a prominent role in the pathogenesis of this disease with their uncontrolled uptake of atherogenic lipoproteins and subsequent transformation into foam cells representing a critical early step in atherogenesis (Figure 2). A major focus of research in my laboratory is devoted to understanding the molecular mechanisms by which cytokines regulate key macrophage processes during atherosclerosis. Specific focus is on the actions of interferon-gamma, transforming growth factor-beta and interleukin-33.

Nutraceuticals in the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis

Current pharmaceutical therapies against atherosclerosis are associated with considerable residual risk for cardiovascular disease together with other issues such as side effects and patient-dependent efficacy. In addition, many drug discovery programs have failed to find alternatives. Nutraceuticals represent promising agents either for the prevention of atherosclerosis or treatment of the disease in conjunction with pharmaceutical agents (see Figure 3). However, this requires an in-depth understanding of their mechanisms of actions and ultimately large clinical trials to test their efficacy. We are investigating the anti-atherogenic actions of several nutraceuticals, including dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid, gamma-linolenic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, hydroxytyrosol, catechin, phytosterols and probiotics.

Previous and Current External Activities

  • Expert evaluator and panel member for Horizon 2020 (2015); Panel member and Chair of Assessment Committee for the IRCSET Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme, Ireland (2008-2009); BBSRC Pool of Experts (2009-2010); and member of MRC Advisory Board (2004-2005).
  • Scientific Executive Committee Member of International Academy of Cardiology.
  • Organising Committee Member for over 12 International Conferences, including 16th Euro Fed Lipid Congress and Expo, World Congress on Heart Disease and Annual Conference on Atherosclerosis & Clinical Cardiology.
  • Track Chair for over 15 International Conferences, including World Congress on Heart Disease, International Conference on Drug Discovery & Therapy and International Conference on Advances in Pharmaceutical and Health Science.
  • Regular invited talks (over 60), including Keynote/Plenary speaker at 12 International conferences.
  • Expert evaluator of poster/oral presentations in over 11 international conferences, including 16th Euro Fed Lipid Congress and Expo and International Conference on Advances in Pharmaceutical and Health Science.
  • Member of the Editorial Board of 10 international journals.
  • Ad hoc reviewer for over 20 funding organisations, including 14 outside the UK.
  • Ad hoc reviewer of over 36 international journals.
  • External examiner for over 25 PhD/MSc students, including international (Ireland, India, and Malaysia).
  • External Examiner for BSc in Bioscience at University of Limerick (2020-2024) and MSc in Translational Cardiovascular Medicine at University of Bristol (2021-2025). Previous External Examiner for BSc in Biochemistry at Kings College London (2016-2020), BSc in Biological Sciences at University of Reading (2015-2019), BSc in Biological Sciences at University of Huddersfield (2013-2017) and taught MSc programmes at Sheffield Hallam University (2006-2011).
  • Extensive engagement activities for the British Heart Foundation (e.g. BHF Supporter’s Conference).

Collaborations

  • Prof. Foo Liew (FRS), University of Glasgow
  • Prof. Thomas Decker, Max F. Perutz Laboratories, Vienna
  • Prof. Shinji Takai, Osaka Medical School
  • Profs. Sammy Boussiba and Inna Khozin-Goldberg, Ben-Gurion University
  • Drs. Frank Flider and Riccardo LoCascio, Arcadia Biosciences
  • Drs. Daryn Michael, Tom Davies and Sue Plummer, Cultech Ltd
  • Dr. Rob Winwood, DSM Nutraceuticals
  • Dr Jason Johnson, Bristol Heart Institute
  • Prof. Jonathan Napier and Dr. Olga Sayanova, Rothamsted Research
  • Dr. Nigel Pearce, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Dr. Ahmed Ali, International Gums & Oils Limited
  • Prof. Gavin Wilkinson, and Drs Timothy Hughes, John Martin, Tim Bowen, Eddie Wang, Ian Humphreys and Anne-Catherine Raby, School of Medicine, Cardiff
  • Dr Xiaoqing Wei, School of Dentistry, Cardiff
  • Prof. John Harwood and Drs Alvin Kwan and Neil Rodrigues and Irina Guschina

Group members

Supervision

Supervised 25 PhD students to completion as primary supervisor.

Available to supervise self-funded or funded PhD students for the following project.

Molecular mechanisms underlying the anti-atherogenic actions of natural products

Atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of myocardial infarction, stroke and peripheral vascular disease, is responsible for most deaths in the western world with mortality increasing at a marked rate in developing countries. The economic burden from atherosclerosis and its complications is expected to worsen due to global increase in risk factors such as diabetes and obesity. Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disorder of large and medium arteries regulated by key cytokines. Manipulating such inflammatory response represents a promising avenue for the prevention and treatment of this disease. Many natural products and their metabolites have anti-atherogenic properties though the underlying molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. We are therefore investigating this aspect using a combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches.

This project will focus on investigation of the protective actions of a chosen natural product or its metabolites on major processes implicated in atherosclerosis in vitro in the three key cell types associated with this disease (i.e., macrophages, endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells) and in vivo using the low-density lipoprotein receptor deficient mouse model system (in collaboration with Dr. Timothy Hughes, School of Medicine, Cardiff University). These mice will be fed an atherogenic western-type diet for 12 weeks and 24 weeks supplemented with vehicle or metabolites. Parameters that will be analysed will include: body weight and weight of organs; plasma lipid profile; plaque morphometry, collagen deposition, and accumulation of macrophages, smooth muscle cells and T-lymphocytes (immunohistochemistry). In addition, RNA-Sequencing will be used to determine global changes in gene expression. The effects on key signalling pathways (e.g. MAP kinases) will also be analysed. The studies will provide an in-depth understanding of anti-atherogenic actions of the agent in vitro and in vivo.

Engagement

Britis Heart Foundation Supporters/Fundraising Groups

STEM Ambassador

Local and National BAME communities