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Closing residual "risk gap" in heart and metabolic diseases

Dr Esther Ooi, Institution: University of Western Australia

2019 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2020-2024


Heart disease remains a leading cause of hospitalizations and deaths in Australia and globally. Therefore, heart disease prevention is a public health priority. Despite best medical treatments, “residual risk” of heart disease remains. That a residual risk of 69% has been reported by large cholesterol-lowering clinical trials, points to contributions by other targets. These may include new factors such as blood proteins, inflammation and a person’s characteristics, genetics and behaviour. Their roles may be even more important in people at high risk of heart disease, such as diabetes and kidney disease where the treatment of conventional risk factors have not been effective.

My research will identify, test and validate new and lifelong factors linked to the development of heart and metabolic diseases by bringing together emerging sciences including biological markers, genes, and digital data technology (electronic data and data linkage). Of note, my research will (1) identify links between new cholesterol, inflammatory and genetic markers with heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease outcomes, and (2) investigate evidence for a putative causal role of low vitamin D in inflammation and impaired kidney function. The research will incorporate new research methods and build on Australian and international expertise and networks. My research will inform on earlier diagnoses, better identification of treatment or responses to treatment, and more accurate prediction of future heart and metabolic disease severity or outcome. These outcomes are critically relevant to health professionals, educators and policy makers.

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