I am
Genetic protection against cardiovascular disease
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Genetic protection against cardiovascular disease

Dr Paul Lacaze, Institution: Monash University

2019 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2020-2023


Protective genetic variants play an important role in reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, and have informed the development of drug therapies for CVD. If we can better understand the role protective genetic factors play in reducing CVD risk, it may lead to more therapeutic and preventive targets. The healthy elderly who survive to advanced age without CVD are more likely to carry protective genetic variants. Yet the healthy elderly, to date, have not been made the focus of large human genetic studies for protective variants. This research program will focus on the genetic analysis of one of Australia’s largest healthy elderly cohorts, the ASPREE cohort.

ASPREE has collected blood samples from 15,000 healthy elderly Australians aged >70 years with no CVD history, and measured a range of CVD outcomes over 5+ years. I drive the genetic program for ASPREE, and my research will assess the relative contributions of genetic risk factors, and protective factors, in modifying risk of CVD in this population. ASPREE is enriched for healthy elderly individuals with exceptional cardiovascular health. However, there are sub-sets of ASPREE participants at high genetic risk of CVD, who defy the odds, and remain unaffected by CVD despite high genetic risk.

This includes carriers of gene changes that increase risk of high cholesterol, structural heart problems and sudden cardiac death. Because these individuals are at high genetic risk of CVD, yet remain unaffected by disease, they have an increased likelihood of carrying protective genetic factors. Analysing the genomes of these resilient cases will provide a unique opportunity to discover protective genetic variants for CVD.  I have valuable scientific experience from both academia and industry, and have established one of the first Public Health Genomics programs in Australia, centred around large cardiovascular prevention trials. This provides an exceptional platform for future success.

You might also be interested in

Research Directory

Research Directory

A program of research to improve ACCESS to cardiovascular care

A program of research to improve ACCESS to cardiovascular care

Professor Robyn Clark, Institution: Flinders University...

Altering the rehabilitation environment to improve stroke survivor activity (AREISSA)

Altering the rehabilitation environment to improve stroke survivor activity (AREISSA)

Assistant Professor Neil Spratt, Institution: The University of Newcastle...

Constructing Aboriginal health: a review of cardiovascular research, 1933-2014

Constructing Aboriginal health: a review of cardiovascular research, 1933-2014

Ms Joanne Luke, Institution: University of Melbourne...

Exercise and brain volume loss after stroke

Exercise and brain volume loss after stroke

Professor Amy Brodtmann, Institution: Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health...

Growing healthy hearts - how passive smoke exposure and elevated blood pressure early in life impacts adult cardiovascular health

Growing healthy hearts - how passive smoke exposure and elevated blood pressure early in life impacts adult cardiovascular health

Growing healthy hearts - how passive smoke exposure and elevated blood pressure early in life impacts adult cardiovascular health

Dr Costan Magnussen, Institution: University of Tasmania...

Lipid disorders in patients at high cardiovascular disease risk

Lipid disorders in patients at high cardiovascular disease risk

Dr Esther Ooi, Institution: University of Western Australia...

Promoting active, healthy lifestyles among women at key life stages

Promoting active, healthy lifestyles among women at key life stages

Associate Professor Verity Cleland, Institution: University of Tasmania...

Reducing population salt consumption in Victoria

Reducing population salt consumption in Victoria

Reducing population salt consumption in Victoria

Professor Bruce Neal, Institution: University of New South Wales...

Starting early – Increasing young children’s physical activity

Starting early – Increasing young children’s physical activity

Associate Professor Hayley Christian, Institution: University of Western Australia...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Environment, climate change and heart health

Environment, climate change and heart health

Environment, climate change and heart health

Information on how air pollution, heatwaves and bushfires can impact heart health, and what you can do to look after yourself. ...

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Could you be at risk of heart disease? Get your estimated heart age now....

Physical activity in the workplace

Physical activity in the workplace

Physical activity in the workplace

Resources to help you create a more physically active workplace....

When The Heart Gets Heavy: Emotional Wellbeing and Heart Conditions

When The Heart Gets Heavy: Emotional Wellbeing and Heart Conditions

Emotional wellbeing is like having a garden, sometimes it grows green on its own, other times it needs watering, cutting back or fertilising....

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Information to help you adjust to what could be the 'new normal'...

Diabetes and heart disease

Diabetes and heart disease

Diabetes and heart disease

Diabetes is an ongoing health condition where your body’s usual ways of controlling your blood sugar, or blood glucose levels, don’t work properly. ...

Clinical guidelines and position statements

Clinical guidelines and position statements

Clinical guidelines and position statements

We have developed a range of resources for you to use as part of routine care. ...

Q&A with Dr Dean Picone

Q&A with Dr Dean Picone

Q&A with Dr Dean Picone

Action Plans

Action Plans

Action Plans

Recovery is a long journey, so having a plan makes a huge difference. Using an action plan gives you a step-by-step guide to improving your lifestyle....

For professionals: Cardiovascular disease risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 

For professionals: Cardiovascular disease risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 

Recommendations for assessing Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ...

Chicken recipes

Chicken recipes

Chicken recipes

Find heart healthy chicken recipes....

Aiming high after a stroke

Aiming high after a stroke

Aiming high after a stroke

Sami Kennedy-Sim is an Olympic freestyle skier specialising in Ski Cross. ...

Holiday Treats | Holiday Recipe Booklet

Holiday Treats | Holiday Recipe Booklet

Holiday Treats | Holiday Recipe Booklet

Bring family and friends together in the kitchen over this Festive season to help you create your favourite festive treats!...

3 Minute Research Competition Terms & Conditions

3 Minute Research Competition Terms & Conditions

Mexican vegetarian pizza

Mexican vegetarian pizza

Mexican vegetarian pizza

10 minutes
Serves 4 (1 pizza per serve)

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

We need your opinion, experience and skills to help us improve the heart health of all Australians. ...

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

Should population-based CVD risk assessment models make way for individualised risk prediction techniques?...

Reading food labels

Reading food labels

Reading food labels

Nutrition information panels and ingredients lists are a good way of comparing similar foods so you can choose the healthiest option....

Absolute CVD risk calculator

Absolute CVD risk calculator

The Absolute CVD risk calculator estimates the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years....

Our supporters 

Our supporters 

Our supporters 

Working together to save Australian hearts...

Fruit and nut muesli

Fruit and nut muesli

Fruit and nut muesli

15 minutes
Serves 10 (makes 1kg)

Heart disease and pregnancy

Heart disease and pregnancy

Heart disease and pregnancy

Pregnancy is often referred to as the “ultimate stress test” for the body....

Finding support and connection after a heart attack: Nicola Surbevski’s heart story

Finding support and connection after a heart attack: Nicola Surbevski’s heart story

Cheesy Mexican vegetable pie

Cheesy Mexican vegetable pie

Cheesy Mexican vegetable pie

1 hour
Serves 4

Heart Week

Heart Week

Heart failure clinical resources

Heart failure clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Salmon Shakshuka

Salmon Shakshuka

Salmon Shakshuka

20 minutes
Serves 4

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

Stories of hope from Australian men and women fighting heart disease....