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Associate Professor Nicole Beard

Dr Nicole BeardPosition

Assistant Professor in Cardiac Physiology

Contact details

Tel: +61 2 6201 5450
Email: nicole.beard@canberra.edu.au

Biography

Dr Beard and her research team investigate how intracellular calcium signaling pathways initiate muscle contraction. We explore and define the mechanisms which lead to control of calcium signalling and the way in which these are disrupted in skeletal myopathies, cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

Muscle contraction occurs due to a cascade of events and relies on calcium release from intracellular stores. The four main cogs in the intracellular calcium signalling pathway are the calcium binding protein calsequestrin (CSQ), the ryanodine receptor (RyR) calcium release channel, and two linking proteins - triadin and junctin - which bind CSQ to the RyR. Control of calcium release in muscle is vital; disturbances in the process can lead to potentially fatal skeletal and cardiac conditions.

Despite their essential role in skeletal muscle and the heart, the functional and structural interactions between the proteins that drive calcium signalling are poorly understood and form the broad aims of our research.

Currently funded projects include:

  • Calcium signalling by intracellular calcium stores: implications for muscle performance and athletic ability
  • Calcium homeostatis disturbances and human heart failure
  • Understanding how chemotherapy agents cause cardiotoxicity

Research interests

  • Heart failure
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Skeletal muscle ageing and myopathy

Personal website

www.muscleproteomics.wordpress.com

 Selected publications

  1. Hanna AD, Lam, A, Tham, S, Dulhunty, AF and Beard, NA. (2014) Adverse Effects of Doxorubicin and its Metabolic Product on Cardiac RyR2 and SERCA2A. Mol Pharmacol 
  2. Hanna AD, Lam, A, Thekkedam, C, Gallant, EM, Beard, NA and Dulhunty, AF. (accepted 27/07/14) Cardiac ryanodine receptor activation by high Ca2+ store load is reversed in a reducing cytoplasmic redox environment. J Cell Sci
  3. Walweel K, Li, L, Molenaar, P, Imtiaz, MS, dos Remedios, CG, Beard, NA, Dulhunty, AF, van Helden, DF and Laver, DR. (accepted 28/06/14) Regulation of human RyR2 by Ca2+ and Mg2+ in the cytoplasm and in the lumen of the sarcoplasmic reticulum. J Gen Physiol
  4. Rebbeck RT, Karunasekara, Y, Board, PG, Beard, NA, Casarotto, MG and Dulhunty, AF. (2014) Skeletal muscle excitation-contraction coupling: who are the dancing partners? Int J Biochem Cell Biol 48: 28-38.
  5. Li J, Imtiaz, MS, Beard, NA, Dulhunty, AF, Thorn, R, van Helden, DF and Laver, DR. (2013) b-Adrenergic stimulation increases RyR2 activity via intracellular Ca2+ and Mg2+ regulation. PLoS One 8: e58334
  6. Smith JJ, Vetter, I, Lewis, RJ, Peigneur, S, Tytgat, J, Lam, A, Gallant, EM, Beard, NA, Alewood, PF and Dulhunty, AF. (2013) Multiple actions of phi-LITX-Lw1a on ryanodine receptors reveal a functional link between scorpion DDH and ICK toxins. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110: 8906-8911
  7. Wium E, Dulhunty, AF and Beard, NA. (2012) A skeletal muscle ryanodine receptor interaction domain in triadin. PLoS One 7: e43817
  8. Dulhunty AF, Wium, E, Li, L, Hanna, AD, Mirza, S, Talukder, S, Ghazali, NA and Beard, NA. (2012) Proteins within the intracellular calcium store determine cardiac RyR channel activity and cardiac output. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 39: 477-484
  9. Dulhunty AF, Beard, NA and Hanna, AD. (2012) Regulation and dysregulation of cardiac ryanodine receptor (RyR2) open probability during diastole in health and disease. J Gen Physiol 140: 87-92
  10. Hanna AD, Janczura, M, Cho, E, Dulhunty, AF and Beard, NA. (2011) Multiple actions of the anthracycline daunorubicin on cardiac ryanodine receptors. Mol Pharmacol 80: 538-549
  11. Dulhunty AF, Casarotto, MG and Beard, NA. (2011 ) The ryanodine receptor: a pivotal Ca2+ regulatory protein and potential therapeutic drug target. Curr Drug Targ 12: 709-723
  12. Murphy RM, Mollica, JP, Beard, NA, Knollman, BC and Lamb, GD. (2011) Quantification of calsequestrin 2 (CSQ2) in sheep cardiac muscle and Ca2+-binding protein changes in CSQ2-knockout mice. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physio 300:
  13. Rebbeck RT, Karunasekara, Y, Gallant, EM, Board, PG, Beard, NA, Casarotto, MG and Dulhunty, AF. (2011) The beta(1a) subunit of the skeletal DHPR binds to skeletal RyR1 and activates the channel via its 35-residue C-terminal tail. Biophys J 100: 922-930
  14. Beard NA, Wei, L and Dulhunty, AF. (2009) Ca2+ signaling in striated muscle: the elusive roles of triadin, junctin, and calsequestrin. Eur Biophys J 39: 27-36
  15. Beard NA, Wei, L and Dulhunty, AF. (2009) Control of muscle ryanodine receptor calcium release channels by proteins in the sarcoplasmic reticulum lumen. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 36: 340-345
  16. Dulhunty A, Wei, L and Beard, N. (2009) Junctin - the quiet achiever. J Physiol 587: 3135-3137
  17. Wei L, Gallant, EM, Dulhunty, AF and Beard, NA. (2009) Junctin and triadin each activate skeletal ryanodine receptors but junctin alone mediates functional interactions with calsequestrin. Int J Biochem Cell Biol 41: 2214-2224
  18. Wei L, Hanna, AD, Beard, NA and Dulhunty, AF. (2009) Unique isoform-specific properties of calsequestrin in the heart and skeletal muscle. Cell Calc 45: 474-484
  19. Murphy RM, Larkins, NT, Mollica, JP, Beard, NA and Lamb, GD. (2009) Calsequestrin content and SERCA determine normal and maximal Ca2+ storage levels in sarcoplasmic reticulum of fast- and slow-twitch fibres of rat. J Physiol 587: 443-460

Teaching

Undergraduate Subjects Currently Taught at University of Canberra

Human Physiology and the Lifecycle

This unit provides an in-depth study of the anatomical and physiological changes that occur throughout the human lifecycle from conception to old age. Body systems are studied separately, however, students will integrate this material to ensure a holistic understanding of the dynamic nature of anatomical and physiological changes that occur throughout the lifecycle.

Dr Beard also teaches into Pathobiology and Integrative Studies of Disease

Positions held in the Higher Education Sector

2013-present
NHMRC Career Development Fellow and Assistant Professor in Cardiac Physiology, University of Canberra

2013 – present
Adjunct Associate Professor, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, Canberra

2012-2013
NHMRC Career Development Fellow Group Leader, Cardiac and Skeletal Muscle Proteomics Group. The John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University.

2010-2012
Team Leader – Cardiac and Skeletal Muscle Proteomics Group.  The John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University.

2008-2010
Research Fellow. The John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University.

2003-2007
Postdoctoral Fellow. The John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University.

Current NHMRC Project Grants and Fellowships

  • 2011-2015. NHMRC Career Development Fellowship. "Store load control of cardiac and skeletal muscle." Sole CI.
  • 2012-2015. NHMRC Project grant. "Understanding anthracycline induced cardiotoxicity." With Angela Dulhunty, Anneke Blackburn (Australian National University) and Leonard Arnolda (The Canberra Hospital)

Current ARC Project Grants

  • 2013-2015. "Calcium signalling by intracellular calcium stores in rabbit, mouse and man: implications for muscle performance and athletic ability". With Angela Dulhunty (Australian National University) and Feliciano Protasi (University of Chieti, Italy)

Selected Completed Research Grants

  • 2011. Beard. "Mechanism of cardiotoxicity induced by chemotherapeutic treatment" Gretel & Gordon Bootes Medical Research Foundation Funding Award for research. Sole CI.
  • 2009-12. Dulhunty, Beard, Gyorke. "Calcium store regulation in the heart" NHMRC Project grant.
  • 2009-12. Laver, Dulhunty, Beard. "Regulation of calcium release channels (RyR2) in healthy and failing hearts" NHMRC Project grant. $325,575.
  • 2009-12. Dulhunty, Beard,Dirksen. "Communications between proteins deep within a calcium store determines contractility in striated muscle" ARC Discovery grant..
  • 2008-11. Beard. "Molecular targets for cardiotoxic drugs". NHMRC Project grant. Sole CI. $255,500.

Centre for Research in Therapeutic Solutions

Dr Nicole Beard leads the Muscle Proteomic Group within the Centre for Research in Therapeutic Solutions (CResTS) at University of Canberra.

Research within the group is focussed on understanding how intracellular calcium signaling pathways initiate muscle contraction. We explore and define the mechanisms which lead to control of calcium signalling and the way in which these are disrupted in skeletal myopathies, cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

Muscle Proteomic Group  

Members of the group:

Dr Hermia Willemse (Postdoctoral Fellow)

Mrs Marie Janczura (Research Assistant)

Mrs Amita Ahmed (Research Assistant)

Ms Ayla Vensolvas (Honours student)

Mrs Preeti Dave (visiting PhD student, co-supervised at JCSMR)