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06 March 2024

Institute news

Mark Vidallon with friends

As the Institute’s Centre for Cardiometabolic mRNA Therapy takes shape, one of the scientists at the heart of this work is chemist and Research Officer, Mark Vidallon. His natural curiosity as a child for how things work is proving beneficial for exploring and expanding our exciting work in the mRNA and cardiovascular disease space.

We went Fast Five to learn more about what drives Mark.

If chemistry is about making and interrogating structures to understand how things work, what were you like as a child?
As a kid, I liked making and mixing stuff and destroying them while observing the process. For example; throwing a magnet, which I took from my toy car, into the fire and checking if it breaks and loses its magnetic properties. I think my natural curiosity is the one that led me to science research.

You’re bringing your background in chemistry to the mRNA cardiometabolic disease space. Tell us more…
As a chemist and colloid scientist, I focus on designing micro- and nanostructures and fully understanding and predicting their properties, ultimately leading to efficient mRNA therapeutics for cardiovascular diseases. I am very fortunate to be receiving mentorship from Associate Professor Xiaowei Wang and Professor Karlheinz Peter, along with support from the Institute's mRNA centre.

You’ve had a great 12 months with a Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship (and Paul Korner Innovation Award) and a CASS Foundation grant. What is this work focussed on?
My postdoc fellowship focuses on developing innovative mRNA lipid nanodelivery systems that can prevent and modulate chronic inflammation and inflammatory cardiovascular diseases. My CASS Foundation grant supports my study (in collaboration with my student, Haikun Liu) in creating ultrasound-responsive materials that would allow ultrasound-guided delivery of anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic mRNA therapeutics, developed by our Molecular Imaging and Theranostics lab.

Your skills extend beyond health and medical research. What other areas do you apply your skills to?
My background and training in chemistry, nanotechnology, and colloid/materials science allow me to apply my knowledge to fields beyond health and medicine, including fabrication and characterisation of food, cosmetics/personal care products, agricultural materials, paints, industrial surface coatings, construction materials etc… Basically, in anything that utilises or observes small materials (everything is a chemical and colloids are everywhere, including the air we breathe).

Finish this sentence. When I’m not in the lab, I can be found…?
At home, either reading manga/manhwa/webtoon or taking care of my 40+ different species of Hoyas (wax plant). Or outdoors with friends, either at the beach, mountain hiking or exploring new places, cafes, restaurants, bakeries, or markets.

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