Award-winning Monash researcher to investigate the relationship between food and high blood pressure

5 July 2019

An internationally renowned Monash researcher who just been recognised by the American Heart Association with a prestigious award could change the way high blood pressure is treated.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as a ‘silent disease’ and affects one in three adults in Australia. Two thirds of people diagnosed with hypertension are either not treated or their blood pressure is not controlled with available medication.

Dr Francine Marques, from the Monash School of Biological Sciences, has just been named the 2019 Harry Goldblatt Awardee for New Investigators by the American Heart Association Council on Hypertension.

The award is named after Dr Harry Goldblatt, a pathologist renowned for his discovery of the role of the kidneys in the regulation of blood pressure. It recognises junior scientists working in hypertension or cardiovascular research who have significantly contributed to our understanding of the causes of hypertension and related cardiovascular disease.

Dr Marques has an impressive record in researching high blood pressure. She heads the Monash Hypertension Research Laboratory and is a National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow.

Dr Marques is now leading a clinical trial funded by the National Heart Foundation to determine if dietary fibre supplements, which produce high levels of beneficial gut metabolites as a result of microbial fermentation, could be used as a new strategy to lower blood pressure.

“We are recruiting participants for this exciting clinical trial to test if a food supplement that acts on gut bacteria can lower blood pressure,” Dr Marques said.

“We expect to find similar blood pressure-lowering results as the ones we saw in pre-clinical models,” she said.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to go from bench-to-bedside research in just a few short years, which is unusual for medical research.”

The trial involves eating delicious foods (including muffins, arancini balls and frittata) designed by a research chef that contains either the supplement or a placebo for three weeks each, twice a day.

To be eligible to join the trial participants need to:

  • Be 18 to 70 years of age
  • Have body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 30
  • Have blood pressure higher than 140/90 mmHg and not be taking medication (if you are unsure about your blood pressure, Dr Marques’ team can help you measure it).

Participants would be required to visit the Alfred Centre in Prahran on four occasions in the morning (60-90 min each time), as well as dropping off samples and blood pressure monitors on another four occasions. There will also be measurements of blood pressure, and collection of blood and faecal samples.

For further information about being involved in the trial, see: or contact:
Principal investigator: Dr Francine Marques
P: 03-9905 6958


Study coordinator: Dakota Rhys-Jones
P: 039905 8098

Media enquiries:
Silvia Dropulich
Marketing, Media & Communications Manager, Monash Science
T: +61 3 9902 4513 M: +61 (0) 0435138743


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