Kolling researchers part of elite group in fight against heart disease

Two Kolling Institute researchers have welcomed a significant funding boost through a large NSW Government program to help tackle Australia’s number one killer, heart disease.

Professors Gemma Figtree and Martin Ugander have each been awarded a $750,000 grant to encourage researchers to find breakthroughs and help establish NSW as a centre for research excellence.

The funding is part of a broader program investing $150 million in cardiovascular research over the next 10 years.

It’s hoped the cash injection will help drive scientific discoveries and develop innovative therapies for cardiovascular disease.

Professor Figtree, who is an interventional cardiologist at RNSH, will look at the increasing number of people who suffer a heart attack despite not being seen as at risk.

She plans to identify new mechanisms and biological markers of both coronary artery disease susceptibility and resilience.

“Cardiovascular disease is our biggest killer of both men and women and it’s not just killing us, it’s dramatically affecting our health and wellbeing.

“Our goal is to improve the early identification of people with the disease, including those with risk factors and those with only minimal clues. This will greatly help us target preventative strategies,” she said.

Professor Ugander’s work will focus on MRI technology to diagnose and treat heart failure patients who are difficult to identify and currently lack treatment. This includes those with heart failure due to high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

He will also evaluate new surgical treatment to improve the efficiency of the heart by reducing the size of the left atrium of the heart.

“Having recently arrived in Australia from Sweden, this funding will be instrumental in building our cardiac MRI research group, and training the next generation of cardiovascular researchers in NSW.

“The grant will help provide important data on the ability of MRI to accurately identify disease in patients with suspected heart disease,” he said.