Understanding the balance

Associate Professor of Haematology Matthew Linden has dedicated the latest chapter of his academic career to blood platelets and the role they play in the fragile balance between clotting and bleeding.

Associate Professor of Haematology Matthew Linden has dedicated the latest chapter of his academic career to blood platelets and the role they play in the fragile balance between clotting and bleeding. Associate Professor Linden’s current research is uncovering new approaches to maintain this balance in health and disease.

Joint success

With much of his career spent in Melbourne and Boston, Associate Professor Linden’s return to The University of Western Australian (UWA) was driven by the opportunity to work with the people that inspired him from his time as an undergraduate. His work explains that while platelets are a well understood cell for heart disease, by drawing on a diverse range of research perspectives at UWA, he is finding that they can also be an early indicator for a broad range of other diseases.

Collaborations with Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne have uncovered how platelets in children are fundamentally different from those in adults – a critical consideration when treating sick children. His work with UWA’s School of Exercise Science is highlighting the power of using exercise as a means to improve cardiovascular health.

We have managed to maintain all the connections with Melbourne and Boston and the rest of the world that I had during my time away and still push the research forward here at UWA.

Inspired by the natural world

Drawn in by David Attenborough’s nature documentaries, Associate Professor Linden had a healthy curiosity for health and science from a young age. His fascination led him to Royal Perth Hospital, where he discovered pathology as the biomedical path that he wanted to follow. His understanding of the delicate balance between nature and science caught the academic eye of a group in Boston, leading to groundbreaking developments of methods in analysing platelets. “I get very excited about this pathway which maintains balance…to prevent disease.”

Seeing the links

His success has stemmed from his research’s ability to be integrated into a number of prominent chronic diseases; for example, cystic fibrosis and cancer. He explains, “The more we looked, the more we found. We found that platelets and tumour cells were signalling to each other during metastatic cancer diseases.” The connection has opened up a plethora of new avenues, unanswered questions and most importantly, strong advancements in the fight against degenerative diseases.