A new chair of cardiovascular research at The University of Western Australia will focus on delivering new research and treatments to tackle Australia’s biggest killer.
The collaboration by Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute (VCCRI), The University of Western Australia (UWA) and Wesfarmers will lead to the establishment of Western Australia’s first dedicated centre of heart research, led by Professor Livia Hool.
“This incredible support from Wesfarmers will allow us to build a world class laboratory that will transform the face of heart disease research in Western Australia,” says Professor Livia Hool, VCCRI Faculty Head and UWA academic with the School of Human Sciences.
“Heart disease has been underfunded for far too long in WA but thanks to this pioneering partnership between The University of Western Australia, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and Wesfarmers, that is now set to change.
“This will not only help us to save lives in Western Australia but deliver scientific breakthroughs that will benefit people the world over.”
Funding from Wesfarmers will allow Professor Hool to set up a pre-clinical chair in cardiovascular disease discovery at UWA to advance ground-breaking projects, leading to earlier diagnosis, prevention, treatments, and future scientific breakthroughs.
Wesfarmers Managing Director Rob Scott says supporting research into critical health issues was a key part of how Wesfarmers supported its communities.
“We are very pleased that our commitment to endow a new Chair in cardiovascular research and establish the new hub of cardiovascular excellence will help improve people’s lives and their health outcomes,” Mr Scott says.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Amit Chakma said the University was pleased to partner with Wesfarmers and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute to grow much-needed research capacity in Western Australia.
“Through the establishment of this Chair, we are committed to addressing cardiovascular disease and creating a brighter future for Western Australians and the rest of the nation,” says Professor Chakma.
Professor Jason Kovacic, Executive Director of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute says: “This very generous funding from Wesfarmers, backed by the vision and support from VCCRI and UWA, will allow Professor Hool to accelerate and expand, not only her ground-breaking work, but also that of her growing team.
“This is a momentous day for the people of Western Australia. Heart disease is the biggest killer in Western Australia and does not discriminate. It affects our youngest and most vulnerable, our parents, siblings and partners. Our vision for the future is to deliver a world-class heart disease centre that will make a difference to every Australian.
“This is also a very important day for the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. Founded in 1994, our Institute has grown to become the Home of Heart Research. However, until now all of our scientists were based in Sydney.
“With the establishment of this Chair position in WA, the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute has become a national organisation. We look forward to growing this national footprint and our national impact in the years ahead.”
Professor Hool will continue working on her breakthrough discovery in the treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is the leading cause of cardiac death in children aged between five and 15. Working in partnership with VCCRI, new areas of research will include understanding the mechanisms for how sudden cardiac death occurs in the young and developing 3D-structure guided drug design for treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Perth mother-of-five Sarah Beale, who lost her husband Ben in 2017 after he suffered a heart attack while on a family holiday, welcomed the news.
“Our family know all too well just how vital research is into heart disease,” Mrs Beale says. “It has not only shed light on why we lost Ben, it will also ensure my children live a full life and their outcome will be bright.
“Heart disease sadly remains the biggest killer of men in Australia right now. We can change that for the better by investing in research that will deliver new treatments and breakthroughs that will save other families from heartache.”