Gonzalo del Monte Nieto: Getting to the Heart of Research

13 Feb,2019

Gonzalo del Monte Nieto: Getting to the Heart of Research

ARMI is delighted to welcome its newest Group Leader, Dr Gonzalo del Monte Nieto. A native Spaniard, Gonzalo brings with him the combined specialisation of developmental biology and heart research, which he has cultivated over the past thirteen years at the lab bench. Moving over from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney (having spent the previous seven years there), Melbourne was a welcome opportunity to continue his life in Australia and to take the next step in his career in a leadership position.

Gonzalo is establishing the del Monte Nieto Group, which will concentrate its efforts on better understanding heart development, both normal and abnormal. With cardiovascular disease a major killer worldwide and congenital heart disease affecting 1 in 100 babies in Australia, the del Monte Nieto Group is aware of the potential impact of their work. The team will focus on developing biological models and applying a multidisciplinary approach (which includes mathematical modelling and bioengineering) to generate new insights on the underlying mechanisms that lead to heart abnormalities. Working alongside research fellow, Ekaterina Salimova and research assistant, Nadege Veron, the group aims to translate their work into a real and tangible treatment, using heart regeneration and tissue engineering to address cardiovascular abnormalities or defects.

“I want to expand on basic research and develop a deeper understanding of how heart conditions occur, particularly congenital heart disease in children,” commented Gonzalo. “We’re still far away from any tangible treatment, but by better understanding this process we can improve our screening process and identify these conditions before they make an appearance, making us far more prepared for any complications that can occur.”

Gonzalo’s research pairs well with fellow Group Leader, Dr Mirana Ramialison, who also studies congenital heart disease, utilising bioinformatics and datasets to screen for potential causative genes. It was through this niche research specialisation that Gonzalo came into contact with ARMI and Mirana, and the two researchers collaborated closely. This collaboration resulted in the publication of research on the signalling pathways involved in one particular process of heart development called trabeculation in the prestigious journal ‘Nature’.

Gonzalo’s path to ARMI started on the other side of the world – in Spain. After graduating from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in science, Gonzalo undertook a joint PhD in molecular biology between the National Center for Biotechnology (CNB), the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. It was here that Gonzalo had access to some of the most cutting-edge heart research (and the amazing researchers behind the science) in the world and where he fostered his fascination for this particular field of research. It was through this professional network where he eventually met his post-doctoral supervisor at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, bringing him to Australia. After publishing the aforementioned Nature paper as lead author in 2018, Gonzalo applied for a position at ARMI – and the rest is history.

When Gonzalo is not in the lab, you’ll find him enjoying one of his many hobbies – being an active man both in and out of the lab. He is a passionate divemaster, with over 200 dives under his belt. He also has interest in mountain biking, rock climbing and exploring nature. To top it off, he also has a history in electronic music, having worked as a DJ and in breeding exotic pets, which he plans to bring to Melbourne.

Looking ahead, Gonzalo is eager to continue to grow his lab, establish new collaborations and survive the upcoming grant writing period. We wish you all the best in the new year to come and look forward to working with you, welcome Gonzalo!

For more information on Dr Gonzalo del Monte Nieto and the del Monte Nieto Group at ARMI, please visit the del Monte Nieto page. You can contact Gonzalo via gonzalo.delmontenieto@monash.edu  and via Twitter @Gonzalo_dlMonte

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