Ministerial Award for Rising Stars in Cardiovascular Research

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Shining bright

The Ministerial Award for Rising Stars in Cardiovascular Research, launched in 2014, was developed by then-NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner, in conjunction with the NSW Cardiovascular Research Network, to acknowledge an outstanding Early and Mid-Career Researcher in NSW.

Past winners

2018 Associate Professor Aaron Sverdlov

Aaron Sverdlov was awarded his PhD in 2012 from University of Adelaide. His doctoral work was on pathogenesis of aortic valve disease: Aaron led the aortic valve stenosis group at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and provided the first evidence in humans that progression of aortic stenosis is amenable to treatment with renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system inhibitors. He was then awarded an NHMRC CJ Martin and RACP Fellowships to undertake postdoctoral work with Prof WS Colucci at Boston University (2012-15). There he studied mechanisms regulating cardiac function and energetics in models of metabolic heart disease/diastolic dysfunction utilizing state-of-the-art techniques and methodologies. He proved that mitochondrial ROS play a key pathogenic role in metabolic heart disease and identified reactive cysteines (never previously described) in mitochondrial complex II that modulate its function and lead to cardiac energetic impairment. He was also involved in describing a new method for quantitation of FDG PET/CT in cardiac sarcoidosis: this work has been heavily cited and this method has been adopted by a number of institutions. Aaron's postdoctoral work gained him a reputation as an expert and leader in mitochondrial redox field: he was awarded AHA Postdoctoral Fellowship. 

Upon return to Australia in 2015, in partnership with his wife, A/Prof Doan Ngo, he established and co-led Cardiometabolic research group at the Basil Hetzel Institute in Adelaide. In 2 years they have attracted over $720,000 in research funding across a variety of cardiovascular areas, including obesity and angiogenesis, weight loss and exercise physiology, novel biomarkers and cardio-oncology.

Aaron relocated to Newcastle in 2017 where he was appointed as an Associate Professor and Director of Heart Failure at the University of Newcastle. He has a Clinical Academic appointment as a cardiologist at the John Hunter Hospital and is a Clinical Lead of Heart Failure Services for Hunter New England Local Health District.

Aaron has been awarded 4-year Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship for his research program "Bench-to-bedside approach to improving management and outcomes for patients with heart failure" commencing in January 2018.

Together with A/Prof Doan Ngo, Aaron has established the first-in-Australia bench-to-bedside "Cancer and the Heart" program combining basic and clinical research into cancer therapy-related cardiotoxicity with Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital-based clinical outpatient service. This program is a collaboration between Cancer Network, Cardiology, Oncology, Haematology and Radiation oncology departments and is supported by the grants from the Heart Foundation of Australia and NSW Ministry of Health.

2017 Jodie Ingles 

Jodie is an outstanding young researcher in the field of genetic heart disease. With a background in Clinical Genetic Counselling, she leads the Clinical Cardiac Genetics Group within the Molecular Cardiology Program at the Centenary Institute.

Jodie already has over 75 publications, many in high-ranking journals, and has received international recognition for her work, giving over 20 international talks, outstanding for this early stage in her career. She has led many national collaborations, and also acts as a mentor and supervisor for PhD and Masters students. 

Jodie is an exceptional researcher and emerging leader in the field of cardiovascular research, and a worthy recipient of the Ministerial Award for Rising Stars in Cardiovascular Research.

2016 Dr John O’Sullivan

Dr John O’Sullivan is a physician-scientist who studies cardiometabolic disease, particularly the nexus of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, now based at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, the HRI, and the Charles Perkins Centre. John is at the forefront of non-targeted metabolomic profiling, and his work has been recognized by several Young Investigator Awards internationally. He is keen to expand on this work here in Australia by fostering meaningful and long-lasting collaborations. John is a talented young physician and scientist and has so far been remarkably productive at every career stage. John clearly possesses all the intellectual and professional skills to be a leader in his chosen field in the coming decade. 

2015 Dr Joshua Ho 

Joshua completed a BSc (Hon 1, Medal) in Biochemistry and Computer Science in 2006 and a PhD in Bioinformatics in 2010, both from the University of Sydney. He then completed an interdisciplinary postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard Medical School, and was promoted to an Instructor in Medicine in 2012. In 2013, he returned to Australia to set up the Bioinformatics and Systems Medicine Laboratory at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. His research focuses on developing fast and reliable bioinformatics methods to identify the genetic causes of inherited heart diseases using whole genome sequencing. He is also a conjoint senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales.

2014 Dr James Chong

Dr James ChongDr James Chong MBBS, FRACP, PhD is a Consultant Cardiologist at Westmead hospital and leads a research group at the University of Sydney School of Medicine/Westmead Millennium Institute. His clinical cardiology focus is on Interventional Cardiology. His research aims to translate findings from the field of Cardiac Regeneration into viable clinical therapies for patients with heart failure. Dr Chong trained in cardiology at Westmead Hospital before completing a PhD at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute under the mentorship of Prof Richard Harvey. This doctoral training in cardiac development and stem cell biology focused on a previously unidentified population of adult cardiac stem cells. With the support of a Fulbright fellowship and a NHMRC Biomedical Training fellowship he undertook post-doctoral training at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA with Prof Charles (Chuck) Murry. During this period he extended his interests in translational cardiac regeneration to include the use of pluripotent stem cells in small and large animal models of myocardial infarction.