'A massive difference': funding for studies in baby heart conditions

05 August 2019
Professor Richard Harvey, who has received a government grant for research, at the Victor Chang Institute in Sydney.
A handful of babies are born every year in Australia with a condition called hypoplastic left heart (HLH). While not common, it's one of the "most severe congenital abnormalities" in babies, according to Professor Richard Harvey.

"Almost all of them would die without surgery, and to save these kids the surgeons have to rebuild the plumbing of the heart," he said.

Professor Harvey, from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, hopes his cellular and genetic research will uncover what causes the condition.

Professor Harvey is one of 20 senior scientists and clinician-scientists whose research is being supported by the first round of NSW government grants into cardiovascular disease research.

Each researcher has been awarded $750,000 over three years out of a pool of almost $15 million in a bid to "turbo-charge" investment in heart disease research, Health Minister Brad Hazzard said. The government has promised to invest $150 million over the next 10 years into cardiovascular disease research.

"We are intent on making NSW the premier state for cardiovascular research in Australia," Mr Hazzard said.

Professor Harvey, who is working in collaboration with paediatric cardiac surgeon Professor David Winlaw from The Children's Hospital at Westmead, said a combination of new technology and science along with the grants means researchers have a chance to solve the causes of HLH.

"If we're able to make progress and contributions to understanding this disease and how we might use that information for therapies down the stream ... we can make a big difference to not only those families but to the bottom line healthcare budget," Professor Harvey said.

Professor Gemma Figtree, an interventional cardiologist at Royal North Shore Hospital also received a grant for her research into the causes of heart attacks in patients who were not previously deemed at risk.

Congratulations Professors Harvey and Figtree.

Source: 'A massive difference': funding for studies in baby heart conditions - WA Today.

Professor Richard Harvey is a Chief Investigator at Stem Cells Australia.