Ana Villaplana Velasco
MRC Transition Fellow
Ana is an MRC Transition Fellow at PHS, focused on discovering potential sex-specific therapeutic targets and developing sex-specific predictive models for cardiovascular disease. Ana completed a PhD in Precision Medicine, where she investigated the genetic component of retinal vascular variations and the extent of its association with cardiovascular disease. This project resulted in the elucidation of genomic regions contributing to retinal variations as well as regulatory elements that are key after a major cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack. This work also included the development of a predictive model for incident cardiovascular diseases using a machine learning strategy on retinal, genetic and risk factor information, which was able to better identify those at high risk of developing a heart attack or stroke. This experience kindled her interest in precision medicine and led her to pursue the MRC Transition Fellowship award in the discovery of sex-specific targets for cardiovascular disease at PSH. She now analyses the genetic elements contributing to cardiovascular diseases in males and females separately and whether these genetic determinants can be used as potential drug targets. Ana also will investigate whether the development of sex-specific risk tools for incident cardiovascular conditions improves when compared to available risk models. Out of work, she enjoys baking, and going to concerts and improv shows.