Monday - August 12, 2019

Unlocking the cardiovascular disease mystery: Emerging researchers awarded grants for groundbreaking research

The Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ) in partnership with Bayer, has today awarded two grants to emerging researchers to foster continued innovation in cardiovascular disease (CVD) management and prevention. The winning research projects will investigate the impacts of environmental and physical factors on CVD.


Professor Chris Semsarian, scientific Committee Chair, CSANZ said: “At CSANZ, we believe that continued support of novel research has a real potential to greatly enhance outcomes for patients with CVD. We are delighted to award the Young Investigator Grants in partnership with Bayer to facilitate investigations into how internal and external factors can impact what we know about CVD, which could ultimately lead to improved prevention and management of the disease.”


Cardiovascular disease kills one Australian every 12 minutes, making it the nation’s biggest killer.1 Continued investment in research surrounding causes and influences of CVD is critical to find solutions to combat one of Australia’s largest health problems.


Dr Lining Arnold Ju, Postdoctoral Research Officer from the Heart Research Institute, was awarded the 2018 CSANZ-Bayer Young Investigator Research Grant. A year on, the grant has allowed him to publish findings that show for the first time how biomechanical forces regulate blood flow in diabetes patients who have a high risk of CVD, leading to the development of a new antithrombotic strategy for healthcare professionals in Australia.2


“The CSANZ-Bayer Young Investigator Research Grant has allowed me to make a breakthrough in medical science that not only impacts the way we may address CVD risk in diabetes patients in Australia, but also internationally. I encourage this year’s winners to take the challenge, ask big questions and motivate yourself to solve some of the biggest issues in CVD we are facing today. This grant truly gives us the opportunity to do this,” said Dr Ju.


This year’s CSANZ-Bayer Young Investigator Grants were awarded to Dr Quan Huynh and Dr Jonathan Noonan, both researchers at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. Dr Quan Huynh’s winning project will investigate the detrimental effects of air pollution on cardiovascular health. While air pollution is widely acknowledged as a cause of increased risk of respiratory disease, there is minimal awareness around its potential impact on CVD, despite long-term and short-term exposure to air pollution being associated with increased mortality in CVD patients.


Dr Jonathan Noonan’s winning research project will explore the link between autoimmune disease and atherosclerosis (the build-up of fats and cholesterol within artery walls which restricts blood flow).3 Immune targeted therapies have revolutionised the treatment of chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases, however, despite the involvement of same inflammatory pathways, there has been limited application of similar interventions for atherosclerosis. This study aims to evaluate if T cells in atherosclerosis behave like those found in autoimmune conditions, and therefore whether T cell targeted interventions could address residual inflammatory risk in CVD patients.


Ashraf Al-Ouf, Bayer Pharmaceuticals Australia & New Zealand General Manager, said: “At Bayer, we believe that collaboration plays an important role in addressing the burden of CVD in Australia. We are therefore proud to partner with CSANZ to award our Young Investigator Grants to two scientists who have identified important research topics in the area of CVD. We have come a long way in the management of CVD, but we recognise that there is still more to do to address the growing burden of the disease in Australia. We are delighted to support such great talent in CVD research and look forward to seeing how the results contribute to the solution for tackling CVD in the future.”


This year, CSANZ received 12 applications for the CSANZ-Bayer Young Investigator Grants from Australia and New Zealand. The three-year partnership between CSANZ and Bayer will involve funding by Bayer for two Young Investigator Research Grants per year to support exceptional new cardiovascular research talent. It is expected that the CSANZ-Bayer Young Investigator Research Grants will result in publishable data within 18 to 24 months.


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About CSANZ:

The Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand is the professional society for cardiologists and those working in the area of cardiology including researchers, scientists, cardiovascular nurses, allied health professionals and other healthcare workers. The Society is the chief advocacy group for the profession and aims to facilitate training, professional development, promote research and improve medical practice to enhance the quality of care for patients with cardiovascular disease.


About CSANZ-Bayer Young Investigator Grant:

Bayer partnered with CSANZ to establish a three-year collaboration that offers two Young Investigator Research Grants per year worth a total of AUD $300,000. These grants aim to facilitate innovation in cardiovascular research. Winners will be announced annually at CSANZ’s scientific meeting. All applicants are required to have six years or less post-award of PhD or a postgraduate qualification and be affiliated with an academic / scientific institution or national health care system. The grant applications were reviewed by the CSANZ Scientific Committee and this year’s winners were announced at the CSANZ 67th Annual Scientific Meeting in Adelaide, SA, Australia.



1 Heart Foundation. Heart Disease in Australia. Available at: Accessed August 2019.

2 University of Sydney. Research Unlocks Biomechanic Mystery Behind Deadly Blood Clots. Available at: Accessed August 2019.

3 Mayo Clinic. Arteriosclerosis / Atherosclerosis. University of Sydney. Research Unlocks Biomechanic Mystery Behind Deadly Blood Clots. Available at: Accessed August 2019.