Press Release: 2022 ACvA Award Winners

Australian Cardiovascular Research Excellence celebrated at ACvA Awards

24 February 2023

Australia’s world-class cardiovascular and stroke researchers were honoured last night at the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance (ACvA) Excellence in Cardiovascular Research Awards.

The Awards were officiated by the Honourable Ged Kearney MP, Assistant Minister for Health & Aged Care.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) including heart, stroke and vascular diseases, are the leading cause of deaths globally. In Australia, one in five deaths are from CVD.

Research excellence and impact are vital in the fight against CVD and the ACvA Excellence in Cardiovascular Research Awards were set up to celebrate and highlight the leadership, collaboration and innovation taking place within the sector. The Awards showcase the depth and diversity across the cardiovascular research spectrum.

The Assistant Minister introduced the Awards and congratulated all researchers saying, “Australia’s reputation for world class research and medical innovation doesn’t just happen and it is in no small part due to the hard work and dedication of every one of you.”

The Game Changer Award recognises innovative breakthroughs and the emerging and established researchers who have made them. The 2022 Game Changer Award was by won Professor Doan Ngo from the University of Newcastle. Professor Ngo’s research focuses on identifying drugs that protect the heart from the toxic side effects of cancer therapies without reducing their anticancer benefits. Her discovery, that the drug, Bizantrene has both anti-cancer and cardioprotective properties, is being validated in clinical trials and could benefit millions of cancer patients around the world.

The Mentor Award honours the integral role guidance, support and the sharing of knowledge play in supporting our next generation of researchers, promoting a positive culture and building a sustainable research sector. This year’s Mentor award recipients are Professors Grant Drummond and Julie Redfern whose extraordinary leadership and guidance continually goes above and beyond.

La Trobe University’s Professor Drummond has engaged extensively in mentoring at the local, national and international level. His top priority is to contribute to the future of Australian cardiovascular research through the quantity and quality of successful researchers in the next generation. The University of Sydney’s Professor Redfern has a distinguished record of mentorship which has led to her staff and students finding and crafting their skills and passion in research to become leaders who can encourage and inspire others.  

The ACvA Translation award recognises the outstanding achievements of researchers who have translated observations from the laboratory or unmet needs seen in the clinic into interventions that have real-life impact for patients.

The winners of the 2022 Translation Award are Professors Geoffrey Donnan and Stephen Davis from the Australian Stroke Alliance. Professors Donnan and Davis are internationally renowned stroke neurologists whose mission is to reduce the catastrophic effects of stroke by providing fast accurate diagnosis ideally within the first ‘golden hour’. An Australian experiences a stroke every 19 minutes. Through their collaborative leadership, their multi-disciplinary and cross-sector team are developing lightweight portable brain imaging technology that brings the hospital to the patient by road and air, enabling expert stroke care across the vast distances of Australia.

The winners were chosen from a shortlist of 15 Finalists who represent the diversity within the cardiovascular and stroke research sector including epidemiological studies, 3D and mixed reality modelling of the heart, cardiac rehabilitation, genetic mutations and spider venom which can limit tissue damage after heart attacks and stroke.

 You can read about all of the 2022 Finalists HERE.


Professor Doan Ngo is currently the Co-director of the Newcastle Centre of Excellence in Cardio-oncology, Deputy Chair of the Hunter Medical Research Institute’s Heart & Stroke Program, a Professor and Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow.

Grant Drummond is Professor and Head of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Microbiology (PAM), and Co-director of the Centre for Cardiovascular Biology and Disease Research (CCBDR) at La Trobe University. His work is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and the Heart Foundation of Australia. 

Julie Redfern is Professor of Public Health and NHMRC Investigator Grant L2 fellow. She is also a Physiotherapist, Research Academic Director in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney and a Professorial Fellow at The George Institute. She is CIA of the NHMRC Synergy Grant (SOLVE-CHD), a Co-Director of the ACvA Implementation and Policy Flagship and Co-chair CSANZ Clinical and Preventative Cardiology Council and member of the CSANZ Scientific Committee. 

Professors Geoffrey Donnan AO and Stephen Davis AO are neurologists and co-leads of the Australian Stroke Alliance and $40M MRFF Frontiers grant. Together, they also co-founded the Australian Stroke Clinical Trial Network.

Professor Geoffrey Donnan AO is currently a Professor of Neurology at the University of Melbourne. He is also the co-chair of the EXTEND group of trials. 

Professor Stephen Davis AO is a Professor of Translational Neuroscience at the University of Melbourne and the Director of the Melbourne Brain Centre and the Royal Melbourne Hospital. He also co-chairs the Melbourne Mobile Stroke Unit program.

Australian Cardiovascular Alliance (ACvA)

The ACvA is a not-for-profit member-based organisation representing the interests of a diverse membership which spans individual researchers, research institutes, peak bodies (advocacy groups/consumer groups), and industry members.

They work to bring the cardiovascular research sector together in a whole of pipeline approach, to collaboratively develop solutions to the most pressing areas of need to make a measurable difference to cardiovascular patient outcomes.

Media enquiries

Kerry Doyle, ACvA Executive Director, kerry.doyle@ M: 0417 456 979

Nina Cullen, ACvA Communications Manager, nina.cullen@