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Professor Martin Bennett

Professor Martin Bennett

BHF Professor of Cardiovascular Sciences

Mechanisms underlying atherosclerosis

Intravascular imaging techniques

Office Phone: 01223 746298

Departments and Institutes

Cardiovascular Strategic Research Initiative:
BHF Oxbridge Centre of Regenerative Medicine:
Department of Medicine:
Head of Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
BHF Cambridge Centre of Excellence:
Cardiovascular Biology Theme Lead

Research Interests

We use both human and mouse cells in vitro and models of atherosclerosis with genetic manipulation to study the role of specific gene products or cells in atherosclerosis. In particular, we have developed unique cell-type ablation systems to analyse the role of specific cells in vivo. Recent work has focussed on the protective mechanisms that ensure survival in VSMCs, and their defects in disease as well as the triggers for VSMC apoptosis and cell senescence. We have also identified novel mechanisms of regulating cell death receptors in vascular cells and how cell: cell interactions govern cell death.

Our clinical studies have used radiofrequency (virtual histology) intravascular ultrasound and computed tomography to determine the types and composition of plaques that determine patient presentation and future events, and are refining these techniques to examine vulnerable plaque characteristics. Our recent work with engineering has examined the mechanical properties of vulnerable plaques, and whether they predict plaque rupture.


cell biology ; senescence ; apoptosis ; atherosclerosis ; biophysical modelling ; intravascular imaging ; cardiometabolic disease

Key Publications

Chappell, J, Harman, JL, Yu, H, Foote, K, Simons, BD, Bennett, MR, Jørgensen, HF.  Extensive proliferation of a small number of plastic vascular smooth muscle cells in cardiovascular disease models. Circ Res 2016.;119:1313-1323

Brown, AJ, Teng, Calvert, PA, Rajani, NK, Henessy, O, Nerlekar, N, Obaid, DR, Costopoulos, C, Huang,, Y, Hoole, SP, Goddard, MG, West, NEJ, Gillard, JH, Bennett, MR. Plaque structural stress estimations improve prediction of future major adverse cardiovascular events following intracoronary imaging. Circ Cardiovascular Imaging 2016. pii: e004172. doi: 10.1161/CIRCIMAGING.115.004172.

Brown, AJ, Obaid, DR, Costopoulos, C Parker, RA, Calvert, PA, Teng, Z, Hoole, SP, West, NEJ,Goddard, M, Bennett, MR.Direct comparison of virtual-histology intravascular ultrasound and optical coherence tomography imaging for identification of thin-cap fibroatheroma. Circulation Cardiovascular Imaging. 2015. e003487. doi: 10.1161/CIRCIMAGING.115.003487.

Wang, J, Uryga, AK, Reinhold, J, Figg, N, Baker, L, Finigan, A, Gray, K, Kumar, S, Clarke, MCH, Bennett, MR. Vascular smooth muscle cell senescence promotes atherosclerosis and features of plaque vulnerability. Circulation, 2015, 132: 1909-1919

Hematopoietic IKBKE limits the chronicity of inflammasome priming and metaflammation. Patel MN, Bernard WG, Milev NB, Cawthorn WP, Figg N, Hart D, Prieur X, Virtue S, Hegyi K, Bonnafous S, Bailly-Maitre B, Chu Y, Griffin JL, Mallat Z, Considine RV, Tran A, Gual P, Takeuchi O, Akira S, Vidal-Puig A, Bennett MR, Sethi JK. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jan 13;112(2):506-11.

Effects of DNA Damage in Smooth Muscle Cells in Atherosclerosis. Gray KL, Kumar SV, Figg N, Harrison J, Baker L, Mercer JR, Littlewood TD, Bennett MR. Circ Res. 2014 Dec 18.

Dual-energy computed tomography imaging to determine atherosclerotic plaque composition: a prospective study with tissue validation. Obaid DR, Calvert PA, Gopalan D, Parker RA, West NE, Goddard M, Rudd JH, Bennett MR. J Cardiovasc Comput Tomogr. 2014 May-Jun;8(3):230-7.

Coronary plaque structural stress is associated with plaque composition and subtype and higher in acute coronary syndrome: the BEACON I (Biomechanical Evaluation of Atheromatous Coronary Arteries) study. Teng Z, Brown AJ, Calvert PA, Parker RA, Obaid DR, Huang Y, Hoole SP, West NE,

Atherosclerotic plaque composition and classification identified by coronary computed tomography: assessment of computed tomography-generated plaque maps compared with virtual histology intravascular ultrasound and histology. Obaid DR, Calvert PA, Gopalan D, Parker RA, Hoole SP, West NE, Goddard M, Rudd JH, Bennett MR. Circ Cardiovasc Imaging. 2013 Sep;6(5):655-64.

Mitochondrial DNA damage can promote atherosclerosis independently of reactive oxygen species through effects on smooth muscle cells and monocytes and correlates with higher-risk plaques in humans. Yu E, Calvert PA, Mercer JR, Harrison J, Baker L, Figg NL, Kumar S, Wang JC, Hurst LA, Obaid DR, Logan A, West NE, Clarke MC, Vidal-Puig A, Murphy MP, Bennett MR. Circulation. 2013 Aug 13;128(7):702-12.

Intracellular interleukin-1 receptor 2 binding prevents cleavage and activity of interleukin-1α, controlling necrosis-induced sterile inflammation. Zheng Y, Humphry M, Maguire JJ, Bennett MR, Clarke MC. Immunity. 2013 Feb 21;38(2):285-95.

Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Sirtuin 1 protects against DNA damage and inhibits atherosclerosis. Gorenne I, Kumar S, Gray K, Figg N, Yu H, Mercer J, Bennett MR. Circulation. 2013;127(3):386-96.

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