Robert studied Human Genetics at the University of Nottingham before moving to the Medical Research Council's Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh to complete his PhD and begin his work using the zebrafish model system. He completed his PhD in 2003 and continued his research at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney and the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University. He joined the school as a lecturer and researcher in 2010.
Robert's research focuses on the genetics and cell biology of muscle development and disease. His team uses zebrafish, which grow very rapidly and are transparent when young, to study these processes. Generating zebrafish models of muscle disease allows them to investigate how muscle function is disrupted improving our understanding of both normal muscle development and of the causes of muscle disease. Additionally these fish can be used to test therapies and to identify effective drugs treatments.
Other projects in the laboratory include the examination of genetic and environmental signals controlling the changing shape of the developing heart as it grows from a simple tube to a multi-chambered pump. This again improves our understanding of how the heart forms and also the processes that can be disrupted in congenital heart disease.