Contact Details

NHMRC/NHF Career Development Fellow
School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, BNE, QUEENSLAND 4072
(+61) 07 3365 2402

Co-Head, Cardiac Regeneration Laboratory (with Dr James Hudson)

Co-Director, UQ Centre for Cardiac and Vascular Biology (with A/Prof Ben Hogan, IMB)


Dr. Porrello received his Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Honours) and PhD in Physiology from The University of Melbourne. He was subsequently awarded a prestigious NHMRC/NHF C.J. Martin postdoctoral fellowship to undertake postdoctoral training at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, USA, under the guidance of Prof. Eric Olson, a preeminent figure in cardiac biology. In 2012, Dr. Porrello was recruited to the School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of Queensland where he established the Cardiac Regeneration Laboratory, which he now co-heads together with Dr. James Hudson. His research focuses on understanding how the newborn heart regenerates following injury and whether this regenerative capacity can be harnessed in adults following heart attack. Dr Porrello’s research has been recognized by a number of prestigious awards including an NHMRC/NHF Career Development Award, NHF Paul Korner Innovation Award, UQ Foundation for Research Excellence Award, A.K. McIntyre Prize (Australian Physiological Society) and the UT Southwestern Postdoctoral Achievement Award.

Research Interests: 
Certain fish and amphibians can regenerate organs and body parts, including the heart, throughout life. In contrast, the mammalian heart has very limited regenerative capacity. Following a heart attack (myocardial infarction), millions to billions of heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) die within the space of a few hours and the majority of these cells are not regenerated. As a consequence, the heart undergoes a series of pathological remodelling events following a myocardial infarction, which ultimately leads to heart failure.
We recently discovered that the neonatal mammalian heart harbours a remarkable intrinsic capacity for regeneration. Similar to the zebrafish and axolotl, the neonatal mouse heart can mount a robust regenerative response following myocardial injury. Neonatal heart regeneration appears to be driven by the proliferation of resident cardiomyocytes. Interestingly, mammalian cardiomyocytes withdraw from the cell cycle shortly after birth and cardiac regenerative capacity is lost thereafter. The molecular mechanisms that regulate cardiomyocyte proliferative potential and cardiac regenerative capacity in mammals are poorly understood.
The Cardiac Regeneration Group at UQ is trying to unravel the molecular mechanisms that regulate cardiac regenerative capacity in mammals. We are using cutting-edge molecular techniques to understand the epigenetic changes that occur during postnatal heart development. Our major research interest is in trying to decipher the mechanisms by which large gene regulatory networks are altered in the heart shortly after birth and to understand how these changes contribute to cardiomyocyte maturation and regenerative arrest. We hope to ultimately unravel the key mechanisms that bestow the neonate with regenerative potential and to re-activate these processes in adulthood.
Funded Projects: 

1. An RNA-based strategy for heart regeneration.

2. Disease modeling and functional screening using bioengineered heart muscle.

3. Regulation of endogenous heart regeneration by an anti-fibrotic microRNA.

4. Regulation of heart development and regeneration by DNA methylation.

Teaching Interests: 

DEVB3002 (Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine), Course Co-ordinator (with Dr David Simmons)

BIOM2012 (Systems Physiology), Lecturer

Australian Cardiovascular Alliance
American Heart Association (AHA)
Australian Network for Cardiac and Vascular Biologists (ANCVDB)
Australian Physiological Society (AuPS)
Australia and New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology (ANZSCDB)
High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia (HBPRCA)
International Society for Heart Research (ISHR)

Honorary Research Appointment - Mater Medical Research Institute (MMRI)

Honorary Fellow, Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB)


Currently held grants and fellowships:

2016-2019:      NHMRC/NHF Career Development Award, ‘An RNA-based strategy for heart regeneration’

2016-2018:      NHMRC Project Grant (CIB) ‘Targeted direct reprogramming of adult cardiac fibroblasts to functional cardiomyocytes’

2016-2018:      The University of Queensland, Strategic Funding Request (CIA), ‘Establishment of UQ Centre for Cardiac and Vascular Biology’

2016:               Stem Cells Australia, Strategic Initiative Grant (CIC), ‘Disease modeling and functional screening using bioengineered heart muscle’

2015-2017:      NHMRC Project Grant (CIA), ‘Regulation of endogenous heart regeneration by an anti-fibrotic microRNA’

2015-2017:      NHMRC Project Grant (CIA), ‘Regulation of heart development and regeneration by DNA methylation’

Qualifications and Awards: 
BBiomedSc (UMelb), BSc (Hons) (UMelb), Ph.D. (UMelb)
National Heart Foundation Qld Researcher of the Year, 2015
National Heart Foundation Paul Korner Innovation Award, 2015
UQ Foundation for Research Excellence Award, 2014
A.K. McIntyre Prize (Australian Physiological Society, 2013)
Postdoctoral Research Achievement Award (UT Southwestern Medical Center, 2012)
Dean’s Award for Excellence in PhD Thesis (University of Melbourne, 2010)
Young Investigator Award (Angiotensin Gordon Research Conference, 2006)
Young Investigator Prize (High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia, 2005)
Young Investigator Award (ISHR – Australasian section, 2005)
Dean’s Award (Honours Level) (University of Melbourne, 2004)