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Meet the expert: Professor Jon Gibbins

Professor Jon Gibbins explains his research in heart health at the University of Reading.
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I’m Jon Gibbins, and I’m Professor of Cell Biology in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Reading. And I’m also Director of the Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research. My research is largely based around my interest in understanding how the cells that cause your blood to clot, platelets, do their job. And we’re interested in how can we control a normal protective function that has such devastating effects when it happens at the wrong time. I think it’s a really important question. It’s one of the really big, burning questions within cardiovascular biology and medicine generally.
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Quite a lot of what we do, from the outside world, might look quite mundane and dull at times, but actually it’s the real excitement when you piece all these different elements of the jigsaw puzzle together and finally crack a problem that people have been trying to solve for many, many years. And in this particular area, it has the potential to have a really big impact on saving lives or improving the quality of life for thousands of individuals. We have had a good number of really big success stories over the years, identifying mechanisms, proteins, processes that happen within these cells that are starting to be targeted by drug companies to produce new therapies of the future.
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Research is much like any other area. Technology moves forward very, very quickly. And that enables us to do amazing things and look at things that years ago, relatively few years ago, we had no hope of being able to do. And the machine I’m sitting in front of is one such example. It’s a confocal microscope, one of our new microscopes, that enables us to look inside cells and pinpoint exactly where things are, where proteins or other molecules are, in three dimensions and watch what they do, watch where they go, what they interact with. And this enables us to start to understand the real detail about how the molecules inside cells are able to regulate function.
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This particular microscope’s got an extra special toy added to it. It’s a super resolution microscope, which means that we can visualise down to individual molecules. We use this sort of technology not only to look in cells. But we have another system that’s quite specialised based upon the same types of technology that enables us to visualise these processes inside the body. And so we’re able to study thrombosis as it occurs and see what the effect of manipulating the processes that we look at, that we study, and to see the impact of that on actual disease.

In this behind the scenes feature Professor Jon Gibbins, Director of the Institute for Cardiovascular & Metabolic Research, discusses his role and about the impact of research on saving lives.

You may like to find out more about the research carried out by Professor Jon Gibbins..

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Heart Health: A Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease

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