Heart Foundation unveils $13.9 million for heart research in Australia

The Heart Foundation is today announcing the awarding of $13.9 million to support 73 new, groundbreaking research projects that will leverage Australia’s scientific expertise to save more lives from cardiovascular disease.

This year’s awarded projects will investigate some of the toughest and most insidious unsolved mysteries of cardiovascular disease (CVD), championing the cause for more advanced prevention, treatment and management of heart disease, stroke and blood vessel disease, with the end goal of improving the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds.

Research highlights include:

  • A project to improve our understanding of how the heart adapts to high level exercise (“athlete’s heart”), thereby helping to identify the genetic risks that can predispose the athlete to dangerous rhythm problems, heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
  • An investigation to improve the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease specifically in women, to close the current gender gap in cardiovascular care.
  • A cutting-edge project to explore novel treatments for ischaemic stroke, which occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, often leading to debilitating brain damage and bacterial stroke-associated pneumonia (SAP).
  • Research to develop a tool for assessing heart health knowledge in First Nations women to develop more culturally aligned diagnosis and treatment.
  • A study to identify barriers to genomic testing for familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), the most common genetic cause of early coronary heart disease, which affects one-in-250 Australians.
  • An mRNA-based therapy using tiny, injectable materials that serve as “nano delivery vehicles” for targeted, trackable, treatment of heart disease.
  • A comprehensive study of the causes of coronary atherosclerosis (fatty deposits that block the coronary arteries), using samples from healthy donors and coronary atherosclerosis patients.
  • A research project to identify novel genetic causes of congenital heart disease (CHD), the leading cause world-wide of birth defect-associated infant illness and death.

A full list of research projects is available online here.


Heart Foundation CEO David Lloyd said that the generosity of donors during the past 12 months had ensured the organisation could continue to help support vital cardiovascular research.

“These 73 innovative projects build on the Heart Foundation’s strong legacy of supporting cardiovascular research since 1959,” he said.

“The Heart Foundation supports research right across the spectrum: from work in fundamental biology that aims to discover the basic mechanisms of disease, to clinical research, to work in health services and public health – and it’s pleasing to see that spread continues with this year’s funding outcomes.

“Our support is only possible with thanks to the generosity of everyday Australians who want to live in a world where cardiovascular disease is no longer a threat to them or their loved ones. It’s a cause championed by the Heart Foundation too, as we strive to realise our long-term vision of making the generation that turns 50 in 2050 the nation’s healthiest ever.”

More than four million Australians are living with a cardiovascular disease and nearly 44,000 deaths are attributed to one, with coronary heart disease continuing to be the leading single cause of disease and death in Australia — accounting for more than 17,300 deaths each year.

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