Heart Foundation delivers funding for research in a year of challenge

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The Heart Foundation has announced $13.1 million in funding for 53 research projects designed to investigate the causes, treatment and prevention of heart disease, stroke and related disorders.

This latest funding is in addition to $4.1 million the Heart Foundation allocated earlier this year - bringing the organisation's support for research in 2020 to $17.2 million.

Dr Emma Gordon at the University of Queensland received a Paul Korner Innovation Award on top of her Future Leader Fellowship to study the precise molecular signals that are activated when blood vessels become diseased and stiff and will test if these signals can be stopped.  

Dr Jatin Patel at the Queensland University of Technology also received a Paul Korner Innovation Award to progress his research into using stem cell therapies to regenerate blood vessels.

Other successful applicants will investigate new anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent heart attacks and strokes, therapies to stabilise deadly aortic aneurysms and the link between stroke, abnormal heart rhythms and dementia.

Heart Foundation CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly, said the $17.2 million in funding was a significant investment when COVID-19 had created so much uncertainty for charities this year.

“We could have been forced to cut back our research program but this hasn’t been the case, thanks to the generosity of our donors who have supported us in this challenging year. This is an increase on last year’s total of $15.3 million, which is remarkable.

“As the biggest non-government funder of heart-related research in Australia, this is a priority for us. In the last 60 years we have invested $670 million, in today’s dollars, and we are proud to build on our legacy this year.

“Research is at the heart of what we do. Despite significant improvements in prevention and treatment over the past few decades, coronary heart disease remains Australia’s single biggest killer, claiming more than 17,500 lives each year.

“Major risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, physical inactivity and obesity are continuing to increase in Australia. At the same time, we have an ageing population and serious chronic conditions such as diabetes, which contribute to heart disease, are on the rise.”

The Heart Foundation, which received 504 applications for this funding round, will fund 10 Future Leader Fellowships that will allow cardiovascular researchers to build their research capacity and become leaders of research groups, 10 Postdoctoral Fellowships to support early-career cardiovascular researchers, 24 Vanguard grants to test the feasibility of innovative ideas, seven scholarships for health professionals to undertake a PhD and two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander awards.