Dr Fatemeh Moheimani

Dr Fatemeh Moheimani

Post Doctoral Research Fellow

School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy

At the top of our lungs

Dr Fatemeh Moheimani is investigating how the structure and function of airway epithelium contribute to respiratory disease, with the end goal of developing novel interventions for asthma.

Fatemeh Moheimani

Considerable experience in cardio-vascular research employing different techniques across several laboratories has furnished Dr Fatemeh Moheimani with the skills needed to excel in her most recent area of focus in respiratory disease research, in particular, the airway epithelial cells in asthma.

Fatemeh is looking at what is happening at tissue and molecular level inside the lungs of asthma sufferers.

“Since the air we breathe is common between people who suffer from asthma and those who don’t, there should be underlying mechanisms at tissue and molecular level, responsible for asthma development,” Fatemeh explains.

“I am interested in understanding these mechanisms.”

“If we understand the mechanism involved, we can then offer an approach to manage the disease.”

Coming from RMIT in 2013 to establish Professor Darryl Knight’s Airway Cell Biology Laboratory and lead asthma research program in this laboratory at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), Fatemeh has quickly proven she is more than capable of rising to the challenge of mastering a new area of focus whilst running a world-class research facility.


The epithelium is the thin tissue lining the outer layer of the airway surface and is the first protective barrier between inhaled particles, for example allergens and viruses, and the internal environment of the lung.

“The airway epithelium has a pseudostratified structure,” Fatemeh says, “meaning although airway epithelium comprises a single layer of cells which are resting on a basement membrane, the nuclei of these cells are positioned in a manner suggestive of a multilayer structure of cell populations.”

“Some of these cells are like stem cells, we call them basal cells - they are able to divide and produce more cells. They can stay as basal cells or they can differentiate to different types of cells.”

Some cells produce mucus which lubricates the surface for protection against scratches from foreign particles. Other cells develop cilia, tiny hairs that aid in the removal of the foreign particles through a constant pulsing.

The balance between these cell populations is essential for normal function of the epithelium in the lung. Unfortunately, this balance isn’t always achieved in asthmatics.


In asthmatics, cells predominantly stay in the stem cell or basal cell mode. These abnormalities in asthmatic epithelium prevent normal regeneration after epithelial wounding, resulting in a cycle of inflammatory and detrimental effects.

“The focus of the lab is trying to understand further what is happening during the whole process of epithelial cell proliferation and differentiation, so we can identify why asthmatic epithelium behave in a divergent manner,” Fatemeh clarifies.

“We also assess the effect of viral infections on airway epithelial cells.”

“We know that there are different cellular mechanisms that determine the fate of cells, and whether they remain undifferentiated or differentiate to more mature cells.”

These mechanisms are being investigated with a focus on identifying the precise roles of epigenetic factors which is defined as how environmental factors can influence gene expression.

“I’m particularly looking at microRNAs, they are biological regulatory factors and they are silencing RNA and post-transcriptionally regulating gene expression,” Fatemeh says.

Proteins are also an important part of the equation in the structure of cells and connect the epithelial cells to each other and their underlying structure. Each microRNA targets different proteins.

“If we can find out, for example, that a particular cell is lacking or overexpressing a specific (or group) of microRNA with essential targets important in the process of epithelial cells homeostatic, that would be a breakthrough.”

“Then we could work on a proper intervention for asthma.”


Fatemeh’s journey to her current position has been long and impressive.

After completing a doctorate degree in pharmacy in Iran (Pharm-D), she migrated to Australia to follow her passion for research.

Moving to the University of Adelaide in 2003, after working briefly for the University of Newcastle, she completed a Masters of Medical Science by research, investigating the effect of a novel polyunsaturated fatty acid on the development of atherosclerosis in apoE deficient mice.

A short stint at the Flinders Medical Centre followed before Fatemeh was offered an APA scholarship from the University of Sydney to undertake a PhD.

“My PhD was about cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes. I looked at the molecular mechanism linking diabetes with atherosclerosis,” she affirms.

Joining RMIT’s Thrombosis and Vascular Diseases Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher in 2010, Fatemeh focused on the role of different regulatory mechanisms of platelets during thrombosis formation. Here, she also gained invaluable experience in co-supervising and mentoring postgraduate students.

Fatemeh returned to Newcastle in 2013 as a postdoctoral fellow to work with Professor Darryl Knight, a preeminent expert on airway epithelium and respiratory diseases.


Clearly fascinated by the mechanisms she is studying, Fatemeh animatedly describes a protocol developed by Professor Knight and other scientists to create a mimic in vitro epithelium for study.

“We use an air liquid interface technique (ALI) here in the lab where we can grow the primary epithelial cells in a pseudostratified structure,” she divulges.

“A special media then helps epithelial cells to develop different population of the cells and differentiate - we can see the cilia beating, and the mucus production.”

“We can use this to look at the different targets, because we already have those differentiated cells in the tissue culture in the lab.”

“We can also assess how viral infections affect airway epithelium. It is amazing!”

Much lauded and with a history of varied research behind her, one is left to wonder what body part Fatemeh will become expert in next.

“At the moment I am focusing on understanding the underlying mechanisms responsible for respiratory diseases, particularly at airway epithelium level,” she states.

“Airway epithelium is the first barrier, first defense of your body, between inside and outside. In any lung disease it plays a very important role.”

“But,” she says, smiling, “the human body is complex, just one layer, one part, one tissue is not the entire thing. There is so much to discover and learn.”


Ever humble, Fatemeh laughs away any suggestion that her dedication and achievements are awe-inspiring.

“I am telling you, the whole way through I have always worked with passionate and fabulous people,” Fatemeh attests.

One of her roles in the lab is supervising/mentoring of students and junior staff. Experience has afforded Fatemeh a philosophical approach to her research that she shares with her mentees.

“It is good to have a goal and then find your way towards it,” she observes.

“But sometimes it doesn't always go as you expect, that is the beauty of research. If one thing doesn't work, you try to find a reason for that, and you may go in a completely different direction and find something important there.”

“It is not easy, and it is not a one person job. But the people, the equipment and the technology at HMRI are not like anywhere else, it is remarkable,” she asserts solemnly.

“There is not a day that I walk in here and I don't want to be here. It is such an amazing feeling that my research may contribute in easing the pain of asthma sufferers one day.”

More about Fatemeh's Career

Related links

Fatemeh Moheimani

At the top of our lungs

Dr Fatemeh Moheimani is investigating how the structure and function of airway epithelium contribute to respiratory disease, with the end goal of developing nov

Read more

Career Summary


Fatemeh graduated from Faculty of Pharmacy, Shiraz, Iran with the Doctorate degree in Pharmacy (Pharm-D). She then moved to Australia to pursue her research career. Fatemeh completed her Master of Medical Science (by research: the effect of a novel polyunsaturated fatty acid on development of atherosclerosis in apoE deficient mice) at University of Adelaide in 2005 and her PhD (molecular mechanisms linking diabetes with atherosclerosis) at University of Sydney in 2009. She was offered various scholarships, travel grants and postgraduate grants, e.g. GlaxoSmithKline postgraduate grant (2007-2008: $25,000) during her postgraduate trainings. She also worked as a researcher and taught in various Medical Institutes and Universities. 

Fatemeh was offered her postdoctoral research fellow at RMIT University in 2010 where she was investigating molecular mechanisms that regulate platelet thrombus formation. During her position at RMIT, Fatemeh co-supervised several Masters and PhD students, acted as postdoctoral representative in school of medical sciences, was successful in obtaining several travel grants and attended prestigious national and international conferences such as Australian Vascular Biology Society (AVBS) meeting (2012), the Gordon Research Conference-Haemostasis, New Hampshire, USA (2012) and the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, Kyoto, Japan (2011).

Fatemeh was then offered her postdoctoral fellow position in Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology area at School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, University of Newcastle, in 2013, under the supervision of Prof Knight. She has established Prof Knight’s laboratory and collaborated closely with expertise in the field, including Prof Peter Wark and Prof Philip Hansbro to investigate the importance of tissue and cell specific mechanisms that contribute to the respiratory diseases, particularly asthma. Fatemeh is addressing how the structure and function of epithelial cells contribute to asthma. 

Research Expertise
Fatemeh is a research scientist with background in Biochemistry/Pharmacy and extensive medical research experience in cardiovascular field. The outcomes of her research have revealed essential molecular mechanisms linking diabetes with atherosclerosis. Fatemeh has expanded her research expertise to the respiratory field since 2013. She is particularly interested in asthma and investigating the importance of tissue and cell specific mechanisms that contribute to the disease. Fatemeh is addressing how the structure and function of epithelial cells contribute to asthma.

Teaching Expertise
Fatemeh’s has acted as co-supervisor of Masters and PhD students. She also acted as academic supervisor of 8 undergraduate students of professional practice in Discipline of Laboratory Medicine, RMIT University with 100% and 78% good teaching score in 2013. In addition, she has teaching experience as practical tutor in subjects of ‘Traditional Chinese medicine’, ‘Medical science 1’, ‘Medical science 2’, and ‘Essentials of Pathophysiology’ in UTS from 2006 to 2008 as well as teaching in Microbial control of medicines lab and Industrial pharmacy lab in Faculty of Pharmacy, Shiraz, Iran from 2001 to 2002. 


  • PhD (Medicine), University of Sydney
  • Master of Medical Science, University of Adelaide
  • Doctor of Pharmacy (PhD), Shiraz University - Iran


  • Asthma
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Haemostasis
  • Medical science
  • Pharmaceutics
  • Pharmacology
  • Professional practice in Discipline of Laboratory Medicine, RMIT University


  • Persian (excluding Dari) (Fluent)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
110203 Respiratory Diseases 100

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Post Doctoral Research Fellow University of Newcastle
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/04/2013 -  Postdoctoral Fellow University of Newcastle
1/01/2013 -  Membership - The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand
1/01/2010 - 1/03/2013 Postdoctoral Research Fellow RMIT University
School of Medical Sciences
1/01/2010 - 31/12/2012 Membership - Australian Vascular Biology Society Australian Vascular Biology Society
1/01/2010 - 1/03/2013 Postdoctoral Research Fellow RMIT University
1/08/2009 - 1/12/2009 Research Scientist The Heart Research Institute, Sydney
1/08/2009 - 1/12/2009 Research Scientist The Heart Research Institute, Sydney
1/01/2007 - 31/12/2009 Membership - Australian Atherosclerosis Society ASM Australian Atherosclerosis Society ASM
1/07/2006 - 1/06/2008 Practical Tutor University of Technology Sydney
Department of Medical and Molecular Biosciences
1/09/2005 - 1/01/2006 Research Assistant Flinders Medical Centre, SA
Department of Medical Biochemistry, School of Medicine
1/01/2003 - 1/03/2003 Research Assistant University of Newcastle
Discipline of Experimental Pharmacology, School of Biomedical Science, Faculty of Health
1/12/2001 - 1/10/2002 Teaching and Research Assistant Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Iran
Faculty of Pharmacy
Iran, Islamic Republic of
1/01/2001 - 31/12/2006 Membership - Pharmacist Association, Registered Pharmacist Iranian Pharmacist Association



Year Award
2014 Early Career Researcher Grant

Research Award

Year Award
2014 New Staff Grant
2014 John Hunter Hospital Charitable Trust
2013 Hunter Medical Research Institute PROJECT FUNDING
Hunter Medical Research Institute
2012 CASS Foundation Travel Grant
2012 RMIT Travel Grant
RMIT University
2011 Japanese Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis Asian-Pacific Scholarship (JSTH/APS)
2011 RMIT Travel Grant
2008 Postgraduate Research Support Scheme (PRSS)
2007 GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Postgraduate Grant Support
2007 Postgraduate Research Support Scheme (PRSS)
2006 Australian Postgraduate Award (APA)
University of Sydney
2003 Departmental Postgraduate Scholarship
University of Adelaide


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Journal article (14 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 Hsu AC-Y, Parsons K, Moheimani F, Knight DA, Hansbro PM, Fujita T, Wark PA, 'Impaired Antiviral Stress Granule and IFN-ß Enhanceosome Formation Enhances Susceptibility to Influenza Infection in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Epithelium.', Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol, 55 117-127 (2016)
DOI 10.1165/rcmb.2015-0306OC
Co-authors Peter Wark, Alan Hsu, Philip Hansbro, Darryl Knight
2016 Moheimani F, Hsu AC-Y, Reid AT, Williams T, Kicic A, Stick SM, et al., 'The genetic and epigenetic landscapes of the epithelium in asthma', RESPIRATORY RESEARCH, 17 (2016)
DOI 10.1186/s12931-016-0434-4
Co-authors Darryl Knight, Philip Hansbro, Peter Wark, Alan Hsu
2015 Hirota JA, Marchant DJ, Singhera GK, Moheimani F, Dorscheid DR, Carlsten C, et al., 'Urban particulate matter increases human airway epithelial cell IL-1 beta secretion following scratch wounding and H1N1 influenza A exposure in vitro', EXPERIMENTAL LUNG RESEARCH, 41 353-362 (2015) [C1]
DOI 10.3109/01902148.2015.1040528
Citations Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1
Co-authors Darryl Knight
2015 Sercombe L, Veerati T, Moheimani F, Wu SY, Sood AK, Hua S, 'Advances and challenges of liposome assisted drug delivery', Frontiers in Pharmacology, 6 (2015) [C1]

© 2015 Sercombe, Veerati, Moheimani, Wu, Sood and Hua.The application of liposomes to assist drug delivery has already had a major impact on many biomedical areas. They have been... [more]

© 2015 Sercombe, Veerati, Moheimani, Wu, Sood and Hua.The application of liposomes to assist drug delivery has already had a major impact on many biomedical areas. They have been shown to be beneficial for stabilizing therapeutic compounds, overcoming obstacles to cellular and tissue uptake, and improving biodistribution of compounds to target sites in vivo. This enables effective delivery of encapsulated compounds to target sites while minimizing systemic toxicity. Liposomes present as an attractive delivery system due to their flexible physicochemical and biophysical properties, which allow easy manipulation to address different delivery considerations. Despite considerable research in the last 50 years and the plethora of positive results in preclinical studies, the clinical translation of liposome assisted drug delivery platforms has progressed incrementally. In this review, we will discuss the advances in liposome assisted drug delivery, biological challenges that still remain, and current clinical and experimental use of liposomes for biomedical applications. The translational obstacles of liposomal technology will also be presented.

DOI 10.3389/fphar.2015.00286
Citations Scopus - 15Web of Science - 10
Co-authors Susan Hua
2015 Moheimani F, Roth HM, Cross J, Reid AT, Shaheen F, Warner SM, et al., 'Disruption of ß-catenin/CBP signaling inhibits human airway epithelial-mesenchymal transition and repair', International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 68 59-69 (2015) [C1]

© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.The epithelium of asthmatics is characterized by reduced expression of E-cadherin and increased expression of the basal cell markers ck-5 and p63 that is indi... [more]

© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.The epithelium of asthmatics is characterized by reduced expression of E-cadherin and increased expression of the basal cell markers ck-5 and p63 that is indicative of a relatively undifferentiated repairing epithelium. This phenotype correlates with increased proliferation, compromised wound healing and an enhanced capacity to undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). The transcription factor ß-catenin plays a vital role in epithelial cell differentiation and regeneration, depending on the co-factor recruited. Transcriptional programs driven by the ß-catenin/CBP axis are critical for maintaining an undifferentiated and proliferative state, whereas the ß-catenin/p300 axis is associated with cell differentiation. We hypothesized that disrupting the ß-catenin/CBP signaling axis would promote epithelial differentiation and inhibit EMT. We treated monolayer cultures of human airway epithelial cells with TGFß1 in the presence or absence of the selective small molecule ICG-001 to inhibit ß-catenin/CBP signaling. We used western blots to assess expression of an EMT signature, CBP, p300, ß-catenin, fibronectin and ITGß1 and scratch wound assays to assess epithelial cell migration. Snai-1 and -2 expressions were determined using q-PCR. Exposure to TGFß1 induced EMT, characterized by reduced E-cadherin expression with increased expression of a-smooth muscle actin and EDA-fibronectin. Either co-treatment or therapeutic administration of ICG-001 completely inhibited TGFß1-induced EMT. ICG-001 also reduced the expression of ck-5 and -19 independent of TGFß1. Exposure to ICG-001 significantly inhibited epithelial cell proliferation and migration, coincident with a down regulation of ITGß1 and fibronectin expression. These data support our hypothesis that modulating the ß-catenin/CBP signaling axis plays a key role in epithelial plasticity and function.

DOI 10.1016/j.biocel.2015.08.014
Citations Scopus - 4Web of Science - 4
Co-authors Philip Hansbro, Darryl Knight
2015 Makkawi M, Moheimani F, Alserihi R, Howells D, Wright M, Ashman L, Jackson DE, 'A complementary role for tetraspanin superfamily member CD151 and ADP purinergic P2Y12 receptor in platelets.', Thromb Haemost, 114 1004-1019 (2015) [C1]
DOI 10.1160/TH14-11-0967
Co-authors Leonie Ashman
2014 Alshahrani MM, Yang E, Yip J, Ghanem SS, Abdallah SL, de Angelis AM, et al., 'CEACAM2 negatively regulates hemi (ITAM-bearing) GPVI and CLEC-2 pathways and thrombus growth in vitro and in vivo', BLOOD, 124 2431-2441 (2014) [C1]
DOI 10.1182/blood-2014-04-569707
Citations Scopus - 10Web of Science - 9
2012 Moheimani F, Kim CHJ, Rahmanto AS, van Reyk DM, Davies MJ, 'Inhibition of lysosomal function in macrophages incubated with elevated glucose concentrations: A potential contributory factor in diabetes-associated atherosclerosis', ATHEROSCLEROSIS, 223 144-151 (2012) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.04.026
Citations Scopus - 6Web of Science - 5
2012 Moheimani F, Jackson DE, 'P2Y(12) receptor: platelet thrombus formation and medical interventions', INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HEMATOLOGY, 96 572-587 (2012) [C3]
DOI 10.1007/s12185-012-1188-5
Citations Scopus - 7Web of Science - 4
2011 Moheimani F, Tan JTM, Brown BE, Heather AK, van Reyk DM, Davies MJ, 'Effect of Exposure of Human Monocyte-Derived Macrophages to High, versus Normal, Glucose on Subsequent Lipid Accumulation from Glycated and Acetylated Low-Density Lipoproteins', EXPERIMENTAL DIABETES RESEARCH, (2011) [C1]
DOI 10.1155/2011/851280
Citations Scopus - 5Web of Science - 5
2011 Moheimani F, Jackson DE, 'Venous thromboembolism: classification, risk factors, diagnosis, and management.', ISRN hematology, 2011 124610 (2011) [C1]
2010 Moheimani F, Moore L, Ferrante JV, Trout N, Hii CS, Ferrante A, 'Inhibition of Atherosclerotic Lesion Development in the ApoE(-/-) Mouse by a Novel beta-oxa Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid', JOURNAL OF CARDIOVASCULAR PHARMACOLOGY, 56 431-439 (2010) [C1]
DOI 10.1097/FJC.0b013e3181f1d420
Citations Scopus - 2Web of Science - 2
2010 Moheimani F, Morgan PE, van Reyk DM, Davies MJ, 'Deleterious effects of reactive aldehydes and glycated proteins on macrophage proteasomal function: Possible links between diabetes and atherosclerosis', BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA-MOLECULAR BASIS OF DISEASE, 1802 561-571 (2010) [C1]
DOI 10.1016/j.bbadis.2010.02.007
Citations Scopus - 20Web of Science - 19
2003 Moheimani F, Bahri Najafi R, Mohammadi Samania S, Pishvab N, 'Formulation and Clinical Evaluation of Povidone-Iodine Ophthalmic Drop', Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 2 157-160 (2003)
Show 11 more journal articles

Conference (5 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
Co-authors Peter Wark, Darryl Knight
Co-authors Peter Wark, Philip Hansbro
Co-authors Philip Hansbro, Darryl Knight
2011 Moheimani F, Ashman LK, Wright MD, Jackson DE, 'Novel molecular association of ADP purinergic receptor, P2Y12 with tetraspanin superfamily member, CD151 in human platelets', JOURNAL OF THROMBOSIS AND HAEMOSTASIS (2011)
Co-authors Leonie Ashman
2008 Moheimani F, van Reyk DM, Davies MJ, 'Do glucose and reactive aldehydes modulate the removal of glycated proteins by proteasomes?', ARTERIOSCLEROSIS THROMBOSIS AND VASCULAR BIOLOGY (2008) [E3]
Show 2 more conferences

Research Supervision

Number of supervisions


Total current UON EFTSL


Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015 PhD Role of Mechanical Forces in Asthma Pathogenesis
PhD (Medicine), Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle

Past Supervision

Year Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015 PhD Tyrosine kinase inhibitors modulate platelet reactivity and platelet function
Medical Science, RMIT University
2014 PhD Investigating novel platelet immunoreceptors ‘CEACAM2’ in contact-dependent events that modulate platelet thrombus formation
Medical Science, RMIT University
2012 Masters Physical association of ADP purinergic receptor, P2Y12, with tetraspanin CD151 on human platelets
Medical Science, RMIT University

Research Collaborations

The map is a representation of a researchers co-authorship with collaborators across the globe. The map displays the number of publications against a country, where there is at least one co-author based in that country. Data is sourced from the University of Newcastle research publication management system (NURO) and may not fully represent the authors complete body of work.

Country Count of Publications
Australia 18
Canada 7
United States 5
Netherlands 2
Japan 1

Dr Fatemeh Moheimani


Post Doctoral Research Fellow
The Priority Research Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
Faculty of Health and Medicine

Contact Details

Email fatemeh.moheimani@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 40420363


Room HMRI 2101
Building The Hunter Medical Research Institute
Location The University of Newcastle