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Widdop Lab research

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About Professor Robert Widdop

Professor Robert Widdop obtained his Ph.D. in 1986 in the Department of Pharmacology, Monash University, working with Associate Professor Geoff Bentley on the cardiovascular effects of the antihypertensive agent clonidine, and related agents. He was a Senior Tutor in the Department from 1985-1987 before moving to Clinical Pharmacology at the Austin Hospital, University of Melbourne, as an NHMRC Research Officer under the guidance of Professor Bevyn Jarrott. In 1990 he was appointed as a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Nottingham Medical School, Queen’s Medical Centre Nottingham, UK, under the guidance of Professors Terrance Bennett and Sheila Gardiner, where he honed his expertise for using integrative pharmacology in chronic studies.

In 1993, Rob returned to Monash University, as an RD Wright NHMRC Research Fellow, rejoining Bevyn Jarrott who had taken the Chair of Pharmacology at that time. In 1997, he was appointed as an NHMRC Research Fellow, followed by an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship in 2001. Later that year, Rob was appointed as a Teaching and Research academic in the Department of Pharmacology and is currently Head of Department.

Professor Widdop has established the Integrative Cardiovascular Pharmacology Group within the Department. A heavy focus of his research is on the elucidation of the pathophysiological relevance of Ang II acting at a family of receptors distinct from AT1 receptors, i.e. ‘non-AT1 receptors’, including the AT2 receptor and the mas receptor. His research covers numerous cardiovascular disease states including hypertension, atherosclerosis, stroke and heart failure and the development of novel treatments.

He is a member of several Editorial Boards and has served as a member of the Grant Review and Research Fellowship Panels for the NHMRC, and is currently Chief Investigator on 4 NHMRC Project Grants, and has > 120 publications. He is also the Faculty Convenor of the Bachelor of Biomedical Science Honours course and is currently Secretary of the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia (2011-2013; 2014-2016).

Our research

Current projects

  1. Novel therapeutic strategies to reverse hypertension, organ fibrosis and remodelling
  2. Drug discovery programs to develop new ligands to target AT2 receptors and IRAP
  3. Acid sensing ion channels (ASIC) as a novel target for stroke

Visit Professor Widdop's Monash research profile to see a full listing of current projects.

Research activities

The renin angiotensin system is one of the major hormonal systems regulating blood pressure and general cardiovascular status. Increased activity of the renin angiotensin system is likely to contribute to a range of cardiovascular diseases including hypertension, heart failure, atherosclerosis and stroke. There are a number of angiotensin receptor subtypes that are activated by endogenous angiotensin peptides as well as by synthetic compounds. The AT1 receptor subtype mediates most of the classical effects of angiotensin II. While blockade of AT1 receptors by sartan-type compounds has proven very successful in the treatment of diseases such as hypertension, other non-AT1 receptors are now thought to counter-balance overactivity of AT1 receptors and exert protective actions in their own right.

Therefore, a major focus of the Integrative Cardiovascular Pharmacology Laboratory has been to elucidate the (patho)physiological role(s) of various less-recognised components of the renin angiotensin system including AT2 receptors, Mas receptors and insulin-regulated aminopeptidase (IRAP), and their interactions with endogenous angiotensin peptide fragments and synthetic ligands that we and/or our collaborators have developed. Drug discovery programs in these areas are providing mechanistic data, from initial drug screening through to in vitro and in vivo preclinical testing, of potential drugs for a range of cardiovascular diseases including hypertension, heart failure, stroke, atherosclerosis, aortic aneurysms and ageing. These studies combine ex vivo morphological/histological analysis of organ structure, together with in vivo functional readouts following novel treatments, aimed at preventing and reversing organ fibrosis, inflammation and cardiovascular remodelling. Another therapeutic target of interest is the role of acid sensing ion channels in the pathophysiology of stroke.

Heart imaging

Cross-section heart- fibrosis (collagen) around coronary artery and in heart (red)

Isolated cardiomyocytes secreting collagen

Blood pressureBrain infarct after strokeAtherosclerotic lesion


We collaborate with many scientists and research organisations around the world. Some of our more significant national and international collaborators are listed below. Click on the map to see the details for each of these collaborators (dive into specific publications and outputs by clicking on the dots).

  • Dr Jennifer Callaway (Department of Pharmacology, University of Melbourne)
  • Professor Kate Denton (Department of Physiology, Monash BDI)
  • Professor Mibel Aguilar (Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Monash BDI)
  • Professor Patrick Perlmutter (School of Chemistry, Monash University)
  • Associate Professor Siew Yeen Chai (Department of Physiology, Monash BDI)
  • Associate Professor Barb Kemp-Harper (Department of Pharmacology, Monash BDI)
  • Associate Professor Chrishan Samuel (Department of Pharmacology, Monash BDI)
  • Dr Anthony Dear (ECRU Biotechnology Group, Australian Centre for Blood Diseases)
  • Professor Arthur Christopoulos (Department of Pharmacology & MIPS, Parkville, Monash University)
  • Professor Walter Thomas (School of Biomedical Science, University of Queensland)
  • Professor Jaye Chin-Dusting (BakerIDI Heart & Diabetes Institute, Melbourne)
  • Dr Jennifer Irvine (BakerIDI Heart & Diabetes Institute, Melbourne)
  • Professor Geoff Head (BakerIDI Heart & Diabetes Institute, Melbourne)
  • Dr Daniel Henrion (University of Angers, France)
  • Dr Muscha Steckelings (Center for Cardiovascular Research, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany)

Student research projects

The Widdop Lab offers a variety of Honours, Masters and PhD projects for students interested in joining our group. There are also a number of short term research opportunities available.

Please visit Supervisor Connect to explore the projects currently available in our Lab.