Cellular and Molecular Cardiology

Principal Investigator

Research Interests

IMG_1247 - KM Fav - Crop
Lab group: Calum Macindoe, Joshua Neale, Marco Annandale, Keagan Modlin, Samuel James, Kim Mellor, Musheerah Nuha, Xun (Cookie) Li, Parisa Koutsifeli

In the Cellular and Molecular Cardiology lab, our research investigates the mechanisms of heart failure in the hope of identifying new targets of therapeutic value. We have a particular interest in diabetes-associated heart failure – a condition with no specific treatment strategy. Heart abnormalities in diabetic patients are distinctive from those observed in non-diabetes. We have made some new discoveries relating to the process of glucose management in diabetic heart muscle cells and have studies underway addressing new questions about glucose storage and availability in the diabetic heart.

Diabetes prevalence has been linked with excess dietary intake of fructose, and our studies suggest that fructose sugar may be a key instigator of heart damage in diabetes. Very little is known about fructose metabolism in heart muscle cells and our studies are examining the intracellular fructose damage pathways and testing novel intervention strategies.

Our pre-clinical investigations include assessment of heart function at the ‘whole organ’ and ‘single cell’ level. We link functional outcomes to molecular signalling measurements and use gene manipulation techniques to interrogate the proposed mechanisms.

We have a number of research projects 'on the go' in the lab and many exciting opportunities for research students. 


Parisa langendorff
a-actinin NRVMs
UoA Science Lab 6
CMC Lab - Marco microscope

Group Members

Principal Investigator

Dr Kimberley Mellor
Kim Mellor completed her PhD on cardiac dysfunction in diabetes from the University of Melbourne in 2011. Following a post-doctoral period in the Cardiac Phenomics laboratory at the University of Melbourne, she relocated to New Zealand with a Rutherford Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to work at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. She was appointed Lecturer in 2013 in the Department of Physiology at the University of Auckland and leads the Cellular and Molecular Cardiology laboratory. Kim’s research has identified and characterized an important role for myocardial autophagy signaling in the context of diabetes and metabolic stress. She directs several research programs involved with understanding how molecular signaling is influenced by glucose mishandling and autophagy induction and is advancing new investigations into the role of fructose sugar in mediating cardiac damage in diabetes.


Research Staff

Parisa Koutsifeli, Research Fellow
Parisa completed her PhD at the University of Auckland in 2020. As a Research Fellow Parisa is investigating new in vivo interventions to rescue diastolic dysfunction in the diabetic heart.

Dr Joshua Neale, Research Fellow
Joshua completed his PhD at the University of Otago in 2019 - investigating the role of Ghrelin in rescuing cardiovascular disease in diabetes. Joshua joins the Mellor lab in 2021 as a Research Fellow and his studies focus on the contribution of cardiac metabolic dysregulation to diabetic cardiomyopathy.  

Xun Li, Research Technician
Xun (Cookie) Li completed her MSc in Biomedical Science at the University of Auckland in 2011 and joined the lab as a research technician in 2014. 

Calum Macindoe, Research Technician
Calum completed his MSc in Physiology in the Cellular & Molecular Cardiology lab in 2020 and has continued in the group as a part-time research technician.


Research Students

Marco Annandale, PhD Student
Marco is investigating the role of fructose-induced cardiomyocyte toxicity in diabetes.

Samuel James, MSc Biomedical Science Student
Sam's studies focus on investigating the physiological and pathophysiological responses of cardiac glycogen.

Musheerah Nuha, Summer Student 2020 - 2021

Keagan Modlin, Summer Student 2020 - 2021


Past Research Students and Staff

Lorna Daniels, Research Fellow, 2017 - 2019

Yohanes Nursalim, Research Technician, 2017 - 2018

Vicky Benson, Research Fellow, 2015 - 2017

Jessica Liu, BSc(Hons) Biomedical Science 2016

Dhanya Herath, Biomedical Engineering 4th year project, 2015

Ellie Stevens, BSc(Hons) Biomedical Science, 2014





Current Funding

Previous Funding

  • Health Research Council of New Zealand
  • Marsden Fund NZ, Fast-Start Grant
  • Faculty Research Development Fund, University of Auckland
  • National Heart Foundation of NZ
  • Auckland Medical Research Foundation
  • Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, RSNZ


Selected Publications

Daniels LJ, Varma U, Annandale M, Chan E, Mellor KM, Delbridge LMD. Myocardial Energy Stress, Autophagy Induction, and Cardiomyocyte Functional Responses. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2019 Aug 20;31(6):472-486. doi: 10.1089/ars.2018.7650. 

Janssens JV, Ma B, Brimble MA, Van Eyk JE, Delbridge LMD, Mellor KM (2018). Cardiac troponins may be irreversibly modified by glycation: novel potential mechanisms of cardiac performance modulation. Scientific Reports  8(1):16084. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-33886-x.

Delbridge LM*, Mellor, KM*, Taylor DJ, Gottlieb RA (2017). Myocardial stress and autophagy: mechanisms and interventional prospects. Nature Reviews Cardiology. 14(7):412-425. *Equal 1st author. DOI: 10.1038/nrcardio.2017.35

Delbridge LM, Benson VL, Ritchie RH, Mellor KM (2016). Diabetic Cardiomyopathy: The Case for a Role of Fructose in Disease Etiology. Diabetes. 65(12):3521-3528. DOI: 10.2337/db16-0682

Delbridge LM, Bienvenu LA, Mellor KM (2016). Angiotensin-(1-9): New Promise for Post-Infarct Functional Therapy. J Am Coll Cardiol. 68(24):2667-2669. DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2016.10.011

Delbridge LMD, Mellor KM, Taylor DJ, & Gottlieb RA (2015). Myocardial autophagic energy stress responses—macroautophagy, mitophagy, and glycophagy. American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology308 (10), H1194-H1204. doi:10.1152/ajpheart.00002.2015

Mellor KM, Brimble MA, & Delbridge LM (2015). Glucose as an agent of post-translational modification in diabetes--New cardiac epigenetic insights. Life Sci129, 48-53. doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2014.03.020

Chandramouli C, Varma U, Stapleton DI, Xiao RP, Mellor KM*, & Delbridge LMD* (2015). Myocardial glycogen dynamics – new perspectives and intervention insights. Review in Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, 42(4), 415-425. *Equal senior author. doi: 10.1111/1440-1681.12370.

Mellor, KM., Curl, C. L., Chandramouli, C., Pedrazzini, T., Wendt, I. R., & Delbridge, L. M. D. (2014). Ageing-related cardiomyocyte functional decline is sex and angiotensin II dependent. Age. 36(3):9630. doi:10.1007/s11357-014-9630-7

Mellor KM, Varma U, Stapleton DI, & Delbridge LMD. (2014). Cardiomyocyte glycophagy is regulated by insulin and exposure to high extracellular glucose. American Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 306(8), H1240-H1245. doi:10.1152/ajpheart.00059.2014



2018903745 'Biomarkers of Disease' Auckland Uniservices Limited, The University of Melbourne. Filed 04/10/2018.