Press Release: ACvA Award Winners

Australian Research Excellence celebrated at ACvA Awards

Australian Research Excellence celebrated at ACvA Awards


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 introduced by the Honourable Ged Kearney MP, Assistant Minister for Health & Aged Care.


Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), encompassing heart, stroke, and vascular conditions, stand as the primary contributors to global mortality. In Australia, one in every five deaths is attributed to CVD.


The awards aim to acknowledge and celebrate leadership, collaboration, and innovation within the sector. They also showcase the breadth and diversity across the cardiovascular and stroke research spectrum.


Assistant Minister Ged Kearney MP acknowledged the quality of Australian cardiovascular and stroke research saying, “Reading through this year’s nominations, I was so impressed by the many innovative projects being undertaken.”


The Game Changer Award recognises innovative breakthroughs and the emerging and established researchers who have made them. The 2023 Game Changer Award was by won Dr Ziyu Wang from the University of Sydney.


Dr Wang has developed a revolutionary vascular graft for coronary artery disease which regenerates into a new artery with organised elastin. This marks a breakthrough in synthetic graft technology. The non-porous, fibre-reinforced design mimics native arteries. This cost-effective innovation authentically regenerates arterial tissue, reducing the need to take grafts from the patient’s own body and setting a new standard in vascular medicine.


The Mentor Award recognises the crucial contribution that guidance, support, and knowledge-sharing play in nurturing the next generation of researchers, fostering a positive culture and constructing a sustainable research sector. This year’s Mentor award recipient was Professor Andrew Murphy of the Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute whose exceptional leadership and guidance consistently go beyond what is expected.


Professor Murphy is a dedicated mentor, actively fostering a supportive environment for early and mid-career researchers. His open-door policy, kindness, and strategic career advice have profoundly impacted mentees’ confidence, professional growth, and academic achievements. His mentorship encourages scientific curiosity and independent thinking. Past mentees consider his passion, commitment, and dedication as a cardiovascular scientist and mentor truly inspirational.


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 winner of the 2023 Translation Award was Professor Sandy Middleton and her Team.


Professor Middleton of the Australian Catholic University identified that stroke patients were not being monitored effectively for fever, hyperglycaemia and swallowing within 72 hours post-stroke in accordance with guidelines, resulting in higher rates of death and disability. Professor Middleton and her team developed nurse-initiated Fever, hyperglycaemia, and Swallowing (FeSS) Protocols to manage these complications which led to increased adherence and remarkable reductions in mortality (20%) and disability (16%). These protocols have now been successfully implemented across all stroke units in NSW, and in 64 hospitals across 17 European countries. These protocols are also being implemented across Australia and New Zealand.


The winners were chosen from a shortlist of 11 Finalists who represent the diversity within the cardiovascular and stroke research sector including work on Rheumatic Heart Disease, ultrasound as a treatment rather than diagnostic, gut microbes which can reduce blood pressure, personalised medicine and spider venom which can limit tissue damage after heart attacks and stroke.


The Honourable Ged Kearney MP, Assistant Minister for Health & Aged Care, congratulated all researchers, saying, “Your efforts are critical in building a healthier and more resilient Australia.”


You can read about all of the 2023 Finalists HERE.


Media enquiries

Kerry Doyle, ACvA CEO, M: 0417 456 979

Nina Cullen, ACvA Communications Manager,