Annual Report on ACvA Activities for Members Past and Present

2018 ACvA Activity

2018 was a big year for the Alliance. Working closely with our Institute and Society members and the Heart Foundation, we have increased our engagement with all parties at the federal level and have developed a detailed proposal for urgently needed strategic investment in cardiovascular research that is under consideration. This was strongly supported by States, Universities, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and leading cardiovascular research institutes. Please click here to see the invited editorial that summarises the key points “The Australian Cardiovascular Alliance- towards an integrated whole-of-nation strategy to address our major health burden”.

NSW Government Funding Commitment

The NSW Government must be commended for its vision in committing $150 million to cardiovascular research over 10 years, recognising both the importance in tackling the disease burden, but also the potential for commercial and economic gain. This was the culmination of a long-standing dialogue and effort between the NSW Cardiovascular Research Network, the NSW Office of Health and Medical Research, and a specific business case led by ACvA Board Member Professor Bob Graham and HRI Director of Cardiovascular Research Professor Shaun Jackson, with the strong support and strategic counsel of UBS Chief Executive Mr Matthew Grounds.

ACvA Strategic Milestones

We held a productive strategy day in Melbourne in September, hosted by Kevin Nuttall, Waterfield Consultants and well attended by Board members Emerging Leaders Committee and representatives from the Heart Foundation leadership with a total of “382 years of research experience between them!”. Milestones were set for 2019 including:

  • Developing and launching political narrative
  • Expanding reach and influence of the Alliance and building trust of researchers across the nation
  • Facilitating collaboration of ACvA members, and supporting their application for large multi-centre grants such as MRFF Frontiers
  • Establishing positive dialogue with both Federal parties Ministers for Health, and working towards strategic Federal investment in whole-of-nation, whole-of-translational pipeline cardiovascular research program
  • Reviewing governance structure of the Alliance
  • Identifying and approaching potential high profile ambassadors
  • Expanding engagement with industry members and hosting our inaugural ACvA industry round table

It is terrific to see how much progress has been made on these goals just a few months down the track.

ACvA Emerging Leaders Committee

To help us support the next generation of cardiovascular researchers, and to harness further energy and innovative ideas for the Alliance, we have established the ACvA Emerging Leaders Committee. The main aim of the Emerging Leaders Committee is to provide a conduit between the ACvA board, the cardiovascular community and the community in general, to promote awareness about cardiovascular disease research and lack of funding in Australia.The committee has some of our best and brightest young cardiovascular researchers including:

  • Dr Francine Marques, chair, Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow at Monash University
  • Dr Katrina Colafella, NHMRC CJ Martin Fellow at Monash University
  • Dr Joanne Tan, senior postdoctoral fellow at SAHMRI
  • Dr Anna Calkin, Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow at the Baker Institute
  • Dr Jason Wu, Senior Research Fellow at the George Institute
  • Dr Nicola Smith, Heart Foundation Future Leader, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute
  • Dr Helena Viola, Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow at the University of Western Australia
  • Dr Rachel Climie, Prestige and Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Paris Centre de Research Cardiovasculaire
  • Dr Steve Wise, Leader of the Applied Materials Group at the Heart Research Institute
  • Dr James Hudson, NHMRC RD Wright Biomedical Fellow and Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
  • Niamh Chapman, social media liaison, PhD student at the Menzies Institute

The Emerging Leaders are working on some exciting initiatives that they hope to share with you soon.

Engagement with Industry

We have increased engagement with Industry- both pharmaceutical and device groups and have formal membership sign up of Amgen, Sanofi, Medtronic, Boehringer Ingelheim, Astra Zeneca, Siemens and Bayer.  We will have our first Industry Round Table in April-May (Date TBC), focussing on two main areas: increasing the visibility of Australian research on the international pharma and device stage; and improving the rapid access of Australian patients to discoveries and evidence-based treatments as they emerge.

Communication Plans

We have engaged Mr Roland Hughes as a specialist healthcare communication and marketing consultant to help devise and implement public relations, marketing and direct communication campaigns. He is working with the Board and EMCR Committee to enhance traditional and social media coverage, and to enhance the effectiveness of our website. Together we have worked to promote a strong message that cardiovascular disease is not “all solved”. Both traditional and social media consumers have been receptive to the need for using advances in technology and bioinformatics, to discover new markers and mechanisms of coronary disease, heart failure, and arrhythmia.

Support of Emerging National Flagships

As part of our goal of enhancing collaboration of our outstanding researchers across the country, and across the translational pipeline, we have initiated regular Zoom meetings for CV Bioengineering, and CV Precision medicine. We aim to establish similar meetings aligned to Drug Discovery and Big Data flagships from the proposed strategy. The goal of these meetings is to map existing research and technology/expertise in these areas, and to provide a platform for collaboration. It is envisaged that these structures may enhance opportunities for success with large grants such as the MRFF Frontiers program and help bring some our elite fundamental researchers together with clinician researchers, and patient cohorts and problems.

In addition to energising advocacy for CVD research, we are looking forward to the Alliance playing a growing important role in promoting the development of strong collaborative networks between cardiovascular researchers nationally, continuing to strengthen the quality of research that we can achieve. Let us know your thoughts on how we can continue work your Institutes and societies towards these goals.

2019 and Beyond…..Next Steps

For our voice to be heard and acted on in the community and at a government level, we need to act together. The ACvA has a unique opportunity to increase the visibility of cardiovascular disease, and to work with state and federal agencies to increase peer-reviewed funding for research into heart, stroke and vascular disease. This level of advocacy needs to happen right now, and the legal structure, as well as the breadth of membership makes the formation of the ACvA a very timely.

We now need to build on the platform that has been established. Members of the Board and I will soon be travelling to you to establish direct communication and listen to your broad range of thoughts.

Please renew your membership when prompted to do so to help us to continue to forge ahead with our goals and thank you for your support. 

Please follow up on twitter (@OzCvA) and keep us up to date!

Upcoming Events

National Institutes of Health Cardiovascular Progenitor Cell and Bioengineering Symposium, Sydney March 1 and 2

Early bird registration extended (Sydney, March 1st and 2nd).

Early bird registration for the fifth NIH Progenitor Cell Translational Consortium (PCTC) Cardiovascular Bioengineering (CVBE 2019) Symposium has been extended to 28 January 2019. New promotions include “bring a friend free” (with a full registration) and free student registrations.

Sessions include Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine, Cardiovascular Development and Disease Modelling, Cardiovascular Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials, Cardiovascular Cell Therapy, Clinical Perspectives, and Cellular Mechanisms and Cardiovascular Science. 

The Symposium will be held in Sydney on 1-2 March 2019. With such a large panel of high-profile speakers and delegate numbers capped to maximise networking opportunities, we believe this is one of the best value events of its kind to be held in 2019.

CSANZ-August 8-11th 2019, Adelaide Convention Centre. Abstracts must be submitted by 8 pm on  Monday 11th March 

15th Asian- Pacific Congress of Hypertension, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Nov 24-27th