The function of the human body is co-ordinated, at a molecular level, by proteins called receptors that respond to a multitude of cues, factors, hormones and transmitters. The largest family of receptors in our genome are the G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), and mutations in these receptors and/or alterations in how they signal in our cells are linked to many diseases. Not surprisingly, these GPCRs are major drug targets and the focus of intense biomedical research.

Research in the Thomas Receptor Biology Lab focuses on understanding the relationship between GPCRs and the cardiovascular system in health and disease. Diseases of the heart and blood vessels remain major killers in society and a significant financial burden on the health system. Our research challenges existing notions of how these GPCRs work. We have shown these receptors transition between multiple functional states and have a unique ability to crosstalk or hijack other receptor systems to control physiology. We have also observed that receptors traditionally associated with other functions (taste and smell) are expressed in the heart and we are very interested in delineating their function. We have a number of projects available utilising state-of-the art molecular, cellular and in vivo approaches to study these receptors and to understand their activation and deactivation in cells. As part of our research, we place great significance on recruiting, training and developing young scientists at honours, PhD and postdoctoral levels.

Opportunities for new researchers

The Thomas Receptor Biology Lab uses a broad spectrum of experimental approaches in our research projects, including, but not limited to, gene cloning and expression, mutagenesis, siRNA knockdown, virus-based gene delivery, live cell imaging using confocal microscopy, radioligand binding assays, cell signalling and reporter assays, FRET/BRET assays, assays for cell hypertrophy, migration and proliferation, preparation and purification of neonatal cardiomyocytes, langendorf heart preparations, transgenic mice, cell specific deletion of floxed genes in vivo, echocardiography, explanted human heart. Hence, projects in our lab suit students from a variety of biomedical backgrounds and interests, especially with an overarching interest in the cardiovascular system.    

Research projects and placements are available for undergraduates, honours students, PhD students, and postdocs. If you are interested in discussing opportunities in the Thomas Receptor biology Lab, then please contact Professor Thomas.

Current projects

Projects in the Thomas Receptor Biology Lab are supported by the following research grants:

  • 2019-2021: DP190102072 CIA Thomas How Tissues generate the peptide hormone angiotensin II
  • 2020-2022: DP200101152 CIC Thomas How old hearts get stiff
  • 2022-2023: Diabetes Australia Research Program Grant CID Thomas Targeting cavin-1 via gene therapy in a model of metabolic/low-level chronic stress.

View full list of publications

  • Du AT et al. (2010) Mol Pharmacol  78(4):639-647.

  • George AJ et al. (2010) Nat Rev Cancer  10(11):745-759.

  • Porrello ER et al. (2011) Cell Signal  23(11):1767-1776.

  • Smith NJ et al. (2011) Hypertension  57(5):973-980.

  • Jin T et al. (2012) Cell Research 22(4):661-676

  • Chen et al. (2012) J Neuroscience 32: 2015-61

  • Wang X et al. (2013) Diabetes 62(2):444-456

  • George et al. (2013) The Journal of Cell Science 126:5377

  • Foster et al. (2014) Pharmacology and Therapeutics 142: 41-61

  • Foster et al. (2014) FASEB J 14-256305

  • Karnik et al. (2015) Pharmacol Rev. 67(4):754-819.

  • Mills et al. (2017) PNAS USA 114:E8372-8381.

  • O’Brien et al. (2018) Biochem Pharmacol 158:232-42.

  • Ragnarsson et al. (2019) Sci Signal 12(572):eaas9485.

  • Bloxham et al. (2020) Front Physiol 11:431.

  • Gormal et al. (2020) PNAS USA 117:30476-87.

  • Wang et al. (2021) J Cell Physiol 236:8160-70.

  • Johnstone et al. (2021) Biochem Pharmacol 188:114521.

  • Redd et al. (2021) Circulation 144:947-960.

  • Eagles et al. (2022) PNAS USA 119:e2112630119.

Group Head

Find out more about our research environment and how to apply to do a short or long-term research project with us.