Research into embryonic stem cells, gut microbes, childhood obesity and the impact they have on long-term cardiovascular health are among 60 projects being funded by the National Heart Foundation.
The Heart Foundation announced the second round of 2019 funding offers to investigate the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and related conditions.
The Heart Foundation has allocated $14.4 million in this round to support researchers for one to four years, depending on the size and scope of their research. This is on top of $900,000 awarded to eight researchers in August for Health Professional Scholarships and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Awards. The funding is part of a three-year, $50 million investment in heart-related research.
Dr Hang Ta from the University of Queensland has received a Heart Foundation Paul Korner Innovation Award on top of her Future Leader Fellowship for her research into tiny nanomedicines, which will be coupled with MRI technology to detect and treat heart conditions such as blood clots and fatty plaque build-up in arteries.
“The nanoparticles, based on gold, iron oxide and other metals, will be tuned to detect cardiovascular disease and its stage or progression,” Dr Ta said.
“Knowing whether a blood clot is acute or chronic or whether plaque is stable or vulnerable is very important for doctors when deciding on a treatment protocol. In addition, the materials can be used to simultaneously deliver targeted treatments in a controlled manner,” she said.
Other research will delve into the genetics of heart failure, health inequities in rural and remote areas, new ways of improving Australians’ physical activity and diet, and how smartphones can be used to track potentially life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms.
Heart Foundation Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly, said the organisation had funded a broad spectrum of cutting-edge research over six decades.
“We fund research that aims to find answers to gaps in evidence and knowledge, where we can make a significant global contribution to the prevention and treatment of heart disease,” Professor Kelly said.
“There have been many advances in heart health over the past 60 years, but heart disease is still the single leading cause of death in this country so there is still a lot of work to be done in this area.”
The successful projects encompass biomedical, clinical, public health and health services. There were 479 applications, up from 420 in 2018; 56 per cent of successful applicants are women.
There are 15 Future Fellow Leaderships,16 Postdoctoral Fellowships for early-career researchers and 29 Vanguard Grants to enable researchers to test innovative concepts in health services.
Since its inception 60 years ago, the Heart Foundation has committed about $650 million, in today’s dollars, for world-class, heart-related research.