Multimillion-dollar research boost to fight heart disease

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The Heart Foundation is pleased to announce that 79 new awards have been offered to support Australia’s best and brightest researchers to investigate the causes, treatment and prevention of heart, stroke and blood vessel disease.

Research into the over-consumption of sugary drinks, online support for obese teens and the link between social isolation and cardiovascular disease in older Australians are new projects being funded by the Heart Foundation.

The Heart Foundation today announced it has offered 79 new awards to investigate the causes, treatment and prevention of heart disease, stroke and related disorders. It is part of its commitment to inject $50 million into heart research over the next three years.

Dr Xiaowei Wang, who through previous Heart Foundation-funded research co-developed 'intelligent microbubbles' that can detect and break down clots inside the vein, has been offered an innovation award as one of this year’s most innovative successful Future Leader Fellowship applicants.

It will allow her to continue her important work in diagnostic, therapeutic and theranostic (a combination of therapeutic and diagnostic) techniques via molecular ultrasound imaging.

Other successful applicants will test innovative, low-cost and rapid echocardiography to screen school children for rheumatic heart disease, and search for a curable cause of high blood pressure.

The funding covers nine scholarships for health professionals to undertake a PhD, 18 Postdoctoral Fellowships to support early-career cardiovascular researchers, 16 Future Leader Fellowships that allow cardiovascular researchers to build their research capacity and become leaders of research groups, and 17 Vanguard Grants to test the feasibility of innovative ideas.

National Heart Foundation CEO Adjunct Professor John G Kelly (AM) said the latest funding round would build on a significant historical research legacy from the Heart Foundation that includes the invention of the artificial pacemaker, the introduction of coronary care units in hospitals and improved management of high cholesterol.

“Despite the improvements in prevention and treatment over the past few decades, 50 years after the Heart Foundation was established, heart disease still remains the leading cause of death in Australia. In 2016, heart disease was attributable to nearly 35,000 deaths, and 640,000 Australians live with heart disease every day," Professor Kelly said.

“As a charity and the largest non-government funder of heart disease research in Australia, the Heart Foundation is proud to invest in research to help all Australians have better heart health.

“This year’s funding round continues our contribution to the treatment, cure and, importantly, prevention of heart disease.”

Key statistics:

  • The Heart Foundation has offered 79 individual awards for research funding in the 2017 round. This includes:
    • 34 Fellowships
    • 9 Scholarships
    • 36 Grants
  • There were 376 applications for the awards, with a success rate of 21 per cent.
  • The Heart Foundation has invested more than $570 million (inflation adjusted) in cardiovascular research since 1962.

The Heart Foundation is also pleased to announce awards for the year’s most outstanding and innovative applications.

Ross Hohnen Award for Research Excellence

The Ross Hohnen Award for Research Excellence recognises each year’s most outstanding and innovative Vanguard Grant application, and provides $10,000 on top of the Grant.

  • Associate Professor Yves D'Udekem, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (VIC)

Heart Foundation Paul Korner Innovation Award

The Heart Foundation Paul Korner Innovation Award is given to the most innovative successful Future Leader Fellowship and Postdoctoral Fellowship applications each year, and provides a single payment of $20,000 on top of the Fellowship.

Future Leader Fellowships

  • Dr Lauren May, Monash University (VIC)

· Dr Xiaowei Wang, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute (VIC)

Postdoctoral Fellowships

· Mr Man Lee, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute (VIC)

· Dr Kavitha Muthiah, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute Limited (NSW)

A full list of awards can be found here .


Media contact: Liselotte Geary, Senior National Media Adviser, Heart Foundation, 0411 310 997,