Cardiovascular and Renal Research

We are leaders in the research, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular and renal disorders, and heart failure. The heart and kidneys are intrinsically linked as part of the cardiovascular system, leading to health challenges of both organs, and a diverse range of related disorders such as diabetes, blood diseases and endocrine disorders. Our ability to address these comorbidities from the basic biomedical foundations right through to therapies and prevention places the Kolling at the forefront of multidisciplinary care.

Our research teams boast strong clinical trials expertise and partnerships with industry, ensuring our research directly informs clinical care.

Our multidisciplinary, collaborative teams connect scientists, clinicians and allied health in the fight against disease, positively impacting patient care and community health.

Areas of strength

Ageing and Pharmacology

Ageing & Pharmacology

Researchers within the Laboratory of Ageing and Pharmacology are working to improve healthy ageing in older people. Our focus is on prevention and better management of the geriatric syndromes, including frailty, falls and confusion.

We are part of the Penney Ageing Research Unit and our research aims to improve the safety and effectiveness of medicines for older adults. We use laboratory, clinical and population based studies to understand the risks and benefits of medicines in older people, particularly with those with multiple chronic medical conditions. Our research aims to inform drug choices, doses and formulations of medicines for older people. This will help older people benefit from medicines and minimise adverse effects.

We have developed a pharmacological risk assessment tool, the Drug Burden Index, to assess the impact of an older person’s medicines on their physical function. We have demonstrated that higher Drug Burden Index is linked to loss of independence, more falls, frailty, longer stays in hospital and a greater mortality.

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Cardiovascular Discovery Group

The Cardiovascular Discovery Group focuses on identifying new ways to treat cardiovascular disease. The key aim of our research is to improve the survival and wellbeing of people with heart disease and those who are susceptible to developing the disease. We do this through a research program of translational and clinical research.

Our team works across the leading academic hospital, Royal North Shore Hospital and the Kolling Institute. This means we are in a good position to transfer our research outcomes to clinical practice. It also means our clinical experience directly informs our research programs. Our current research involves translational basic science, clinical trials and patient studies.

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Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Group

The Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Group focuses on developing state-of-the-art cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging techniques to better understand heart disease. Through this, we are seeking to improve diagnosis and develop new treatment options for patients with the disease.

We are also looking to gain a better understanding of associated imaging and diagnostic techniques including echocardiography, x-ray computed tomography (CT), cardiovascular nuclear imaging and electrocardiography (ECG).

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Cardiac Membrane Biology Laboratory

The Cardiac Membrane Biology Laboratory aims to improve the lives of people suffering cardiac related health issues.

Our research focuses on one of the body’s most crucial molecules – a molecule which is vital for the contraction of heart cells and therefore the pumping of the heart. As we develop a better understanding of this molecule through laboratory-based experiments, we explore treatments for heart failure, irregular heartbeat and heart damage following cancer treatment.

Our laboratory-based research has led to the discovery of a new potential treatment for heart failure. We are about to begin a clinical trial of this approach with our collaborators based in Denmark.

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The Diabetes Clinical Research Unit is a service linked with the Department of Diabetes,

Endocrinology and Metabolism at Royal North Shore Hospital. Its mission is to provide a cohesive, quality-controlled approach to investigator-based and externally funded clinical and basic research. The Diabetes clinical research unit is Involved in numerous international and national clinical trials encompassing diabetes, obesity, and associated metabolic diseases. Diabetes research includes research into Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, diabetes in pregnancy, and into the prevention of diabetes.

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Cancer Genetics Laboratory

The Cancer Genetics Laboratory studies cancers of endocrine organs, many of which develop as a result of hereditary syndromes.

Our research team has expertise in cancer biology, diagnostic genetic testing, family counselling and targeted surveillance programs.

Our research translates discoveries in genetic research to improved clinical care for patients with endocrine cancers.

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The Northern Blood Research Centre is the research division of Royal North Shore Hospital’s Department of Haematology and Transfusion Medicine.

Our projects focus on improving patient care through a better understanding of clinical disorders. We run trials of new anti-cancer agents and immunotherapy to overcome drug resistance. We also examine cellular systems to model disease states.

Our group of clinicians, scientists and nurses run research programs in thrombosis and haemostasis, lymphoproliferative disorders, stem cell biology and transplant outcomes.

Our laboratory is an international reference centre for platelet disorders, and provides training for young clinicians and scientists establishing careers in haematology.

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Cardiovascular and Hormonal Research Laboratory

The Cardiovascular and Hormonal Research Laboratory has a clinical and translational research focus. It investigates the sex differences in heart disease, and examines the measurement and management of blood pressure.

The research lab is positioned within the Kolling Institute at Royal North Shore Hospital, ensuring research progress directly influences clinical care. It also ensures patient experiences inform the direction of research activity.

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Women and Babies Research

Women and Babies Research aims to inform, evaluate and improve health policy and service delivery for mothers and babies. Our overall goal is to ensure a healthy start to life.

Whilst every expectant parent looks forward to celebrating the birth of a healthy baby, some families are faced with pregnancy or newborn complications. We investigate factors linked to pregnancy problems such as preterm birth, stillbirth, fetal growth restriction, hypertension and diabetes in pregnancy.

We assess clinical interventions and models of care to determine the best course of action for those who experience difficulties during pregnancy or during the birthing process. This research is vital in understanding how pregnancy complications are best prevented and managed.

We also know that what happens before and during pregnancy and birth can influence the course of a newborn’s life and increase their risk of obesity, chronic disease and other long-term adverse outcomes. Research has shown that events in pregnancy and birth can also impact the longer-term outcomes of children, including their behaviour, academic performance and physical health. The goal of all our work is to ensure optimal health for mothers and their babies.

Women and Babies Research is a partnership between the University of Sydney and the Northern Sydney Local Health District based at Royal North Shore Hospital.

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Pregnancy & Reproduction

Cardiac Biology and Heart Failure

The Cardiac Biology and Heart Failure laboratory aims to understand the intricate biological processes of cardiac diseases that ultimately lead to heart failure.

Our laboratory is particularly interested in the contribution of a class of proteins known as neuropeptides to the development of heart failure. This includes interactions of neuropeptides with cardiac inflammatory cells and the resident cardiac cells in the development of cardiac fibrosis - a major hallmark in heart failure.

Our laboratory establishes cause and effect relationships in various cardiac disease models. We then identify associations in large pre-clinical models and humans. Our research end goal is to identify molecules for a therapeutic target to prevent heart failure.

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Nursing & Midwifery

The Northern Sydney Local Health District Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre located within the Kolling Institute provides support, training and consultation to enable nurses and midwives to conduct research, undertake practice development and innovate within our health care systems. Our work in the centre focuses on supporting our colleagues to provide the highest possible quality care and treatment through inquiry, analysis and implementation of the best available evidence.

Comprising a large proportion of the health workforce, nurses and midwives have a key role in the care and treatment of patients and women in Northern Sydney Local Health District. Their research and innovation in all specialities and services is diverse and impactful.

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Preventative Cardiology and Heart Failure

Professor Geoffrey Tofler and his research group are investigating new approaches to prevent cardiovascular disease. The team is also examining ways to maximise the outcome of patients with known disease.

The group’s investigations are assisted by local, national and international collaborations. Their work includes population and clinical research, as well as a focus on genetics.

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The renal research team’s overarching goal is to improve the lives of patients with chronic kidney disease.

We are working to achieve this by:

  • Generating new knowledge about the cause of progressive kidney disease
  • Developing new diagnostic tests to predict those who will develop kidney failure
  • Discovering new medicines to prevent and treat kidney disease
  • Applying our discoveries to human clinical trials
  • Bringing new tests and therapies to market with our industry colleagues

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Translational Cardiology Research Laboratory

With coronary artery disease the leading cause of death in men and women in Australia, Professor Ravinay Bhindi and his team from the Kolling Institute and Royal North Shore Hospital are working to improve treatment for the disease. Our overall aim is to improve the understanding, survival and quality of life of patients with coronary artery disease. Our research spans from the molecular and pre-clinical laboratory to clinical trials and studies. We examine basic models of heart disease to understand the mechanisms and pathways involved in the development of coronary artery disease.

New technology is assisting our research as we take advantage of innovative computer modelling supported by artificial intelligence. We are also using cutting edge technology in the cardiac catherisation laboratory for patients undergoing coronary angiography and stent implantation. This includes the use of intravascular imaging using optical coherence tomography, where we can see inside the coronary arteries of patients and determine the effects of coronary artery disease on blood flow.

Our research is examining the way heart valves degenerate and fail. We are investigating new minimally invasive techniques of valve replacement, including transcatheter aortic valve implantation.

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Leadership Group:


Gemma Figtree Professor Gemma Figtree

Professor Medicine, Northern Clinical School
Kolling Institute 
Member of the Charles Perkins Centre

Professor Carol Pollock Professor Carol Pollock

Professor Medicine, Northern Clinical School
Kolling Institute 

Leadership Group members:

Belinda Di BartoloDr. Belinda Di Bartolo

Research Fellow
Northern Clinical School

Professor Christopher Ward Professor Christopher Ward

Professor of Medicine, University of Sydney
Senior Staff Specialist and Director of Research,
Department of Haematology, RNSH

Professor Martin Ugander

Professor of Cardiac Imaging

Dr Muh Geot Wong Dr Muh Geot Wong

Clinical Senior Lecturer
Medicine, Northern Clinical School

team-Ravinay-Bhindi Professor Ravinay Bhindi

Medicine, Northern Clinical School
Member of the Charles Perkins Centre

Dr Sarah Glastras Associate Professor Sarah Glastras

Staff Specialist in Endocrinology, Royal North Shore Hospital
Conjoint Associate Professor, University of Sydney

Associate Professor Scott Levick

University of Sydney as an Associate Professor and George and Mary Thomson Research Fellow.

Associate Professor Sonia Saad Associate Professor Sonia Saad

Associate Professor, Principal Fellow Medicine, Northern Clinical School
Adjunct Professor, University of Technology Sydney

Dr Vikram Puttaswamy

Vascular Surgeon

Events, News and Seminars

New Kolling Research Strategy Brochure

New Kolling Research Strategy Brochure

Related links See Our New Research Strategy Download Our Research Strategy Support Us Read more

Category: Research Excellence

The Kolling unveils new research strategy

The Kolling unveils new research strategy

Related links See Our New Research Strategy Download Our Research Strategy Support Us Read more

Category: Research Excellence

New funding supports innovative approach to diagnose heart failure

New funding supports innovative approach to diagnose heart failure

Kolling researcher and Royal North Shore Hospital cardiologist Dr Rebecca Kozor will lead a world-fi..... Read more

Category: Cardiovascular and Renal Research, Funding support