Sydney doctor inaugurates $4-million Chair to explore a hidden organ

Professor Jennifer Gamble

Professor Jennifer Gamble

It’s a big day for Professor Jennifer Gamble today. Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO Governor of NSW is visiting Centenary today for the endowment of The University of Sydney Wenkart Chair in Endothelium Medicine which Jenny will hold.

Sydney doctor and philanthropist Tom Wenkart is donating $4 million to endow the Chair.

The endothelial cells that form the network of blood vessels are essentially a hidden organ weighing about one kilogram. But the workings of this internal transport infrastructure are largely unknown.

The endothelial cells maintain perfect, smooth pipelines year after year but then, when there’s an accident they turn into traffic cops within minutes, allowing white blood cells to pass through the wall of the blood vessels, and giving emergency services access to the scene.

“You prick your finger on a rose thorn – within the hour the wound is inflamed and itching as your body mobilises to fight infection. That’s the endothelium in action,” says Professor Gamble.

Fifty years ago we just regarded blood vessels as simple pipes,” Jennifer says. “Today we know that they’re much more complex – a living, changing organ that rapidly reacts to threats.”

She hopes that, over the next decade or two we’ll be able to understand and control the endothelium in diseases—especially inflammation and those associated with ageing such as atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s.

Find out more about Jennifer and her work here PDF format.

View the pictures from the endowment here.

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