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Dr Daniel Beard

Dr Daniel Beard
Project Grant
2015 Project Grant

What are your research interests?

I am a physiologist, which means I am interested in how the various systems of the human body work together to maintain health and using this knowledge to understand what goes wrong in disease (pathophysiology). I study the pathophysiology of and investigate new treatments for stroke. My specific research interests are:

  • Selectively enhancing collateral (“bypass”) blood flow to the brain during stroke.
  • Preventing a cell type in the brain called pericytes from contracting and strangling the smallest vessels of the brain (capillaries) during stroke.
  • Investigating how body cooling (hypothermia) can protect the brain during stroke.
  • Improving the quality and rigour of preclinical stroke research

Why did you get into research?

I became interested in genetics and neuroscience as my brother has a genetic condition that can affect the nervous system. Throughout my biomedical science degree my interests shifted to both cardiovascular physiology and neuroscience, in particular how the cardiovascular system affects the functioning of the nervous system. This lead me to my current field of research in ischaemic stroke, a disease in which disruption of blood flow to the brain (by a clot) has a profound and often devastating affect on brain function, leading to death and disability. A stroke will occur in 1 in 4 people alive today.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

When it comes to stroke treatment the saying goes  “time is brain”. Unfortunately, less than 10% of stroke patients arrive at hospital in time for clot removal treatment, as there is not enough brain left to save. The ultimate goal of my research is to develop a therapeutic strategy that can be safely administered in the ambulance to keep the brain alive until the patient reaches hospital. This will increase the number of patients that are eligible for clot removal treatment and ultimately improve patient outcome.

Biography

Dr Daniel Beard is a physiologist with 10 years of research experience in the investigation of stroke pathophysiology and the development of novel therapeutic interventions to improve cerebrovascular function after stroke. He completed his PhD at the University of Newcastle, Australia before being awarded a highly competitive postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Oxford. He was recently awarded an NHMRC Ideas Grant and has returned to Australia to take up a lecturer position at the University of Newcastle to investigate novel therapies to enhance collateral blood flow after stroke. 

Dr Beard has a history of highly innovative, multidisciplinary and collaborative research, with a strong translational focus.  During his doctoral studies he identified mechanisms regulating collateral blood flow after stroke. He found that changes in intracranial pressure (ICP) profoundly reduced collateral blood flow to the ischaemic brain during stroke. This work generated the novel hypothesis, that changes in ICP in human stroke may be the cause of the previously identified, but poorly understood phenomenon of collateral vessel failure and neurological deterioration in a subset of stroke patients. In his postdoctoral role at the University of Oxford he continued to research the importance of the cerebral vasculature in determining stroke outcome. He made important discoveries around the use of the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin as a therapy to reduce brain capillary pericyte constriction and potentially reduce capillary blockage to improve blood flow to the at-risk brain after stroke.

Dr Beard has a very strong record of publications, collaboration, peer recognition, mentoring, and leadership in the stroke field. He has a growing track record of publications - 12 published papers  (205 citations) since 2013. He collaborates with researchers at the University of Oxford, Harvard University, Charite' Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, The University of Vermont as well as preclinical stroke consortia in Australia and around the world. He has won numerous awards including the Biorad Prize for Biomedical Science and the University Medal (for exceptional performance in B Biomed Sci HONS degree), European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) short term fellowship, multiple travel bursaries to attend international conferences, and faculty winner and third place in the University of Newcastle Three Minute Thesis final. Further evidence of his excellent science communication skills include his participation in Pint of Science UK in Oxford and the ‘Show us your PhD’ radio program on Newcastle ABC radio.

As well as his research pursuits, Dr Beard is continuing to develop his expertise as a university educator. He has over 13 years of physiology teaching experience, including appointments as a Lecturer in Medicine at Corpus Christi College and a Tutor in Physiology at Harris Manchester College at the University of Oxford. He also completed the Enhancing Teaching Programme in Sciences, a programme designed to support academic and research staff across the Medical Science Division who teach at Oxford to help improve their teaching and thus enhance their students’ learning experiences.  

Future Focus

My future focus is to continue to collaborate with leading Australian and International stroke researchers, cardiovascular physiologists and biomedical engineers to develop, trial and translate cutting edge stroke therapeutics.

Specialised/Technical Skills

  • Experimental models of ischaemic stroke
  • In vivo fluorescence microscopy for measuring cerebral blood flow
  • Cell Culture models of stroke
  • Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
  • Intracranial pressure measurement  
  • Hypothermia
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) production measurement
  • CSF outflow resistance measurement

Affiliations

2015

A better understanding of intracranial pressure changes after brain injury
Project Grant
Description:

Funding will be used to conduct preliminary studies of the effects of increased brain pressure (intracranial pressure) on blood flow after stroke.

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