Press Release: ACvA President Appointed AM

ACvA President Professor Gemma Figtree awarded AM for contribution to cardiovascular research.

The Australian Cardiovascular Alliance (ACvA) President Professor Gemma Figtree was awarded an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) as part of the 2023 Australia Day Honours Ceremony for her contributions to medical research as an interventional cardiologist and cardiovascular researcher.

Professor Figtree is known as a first-class clinician and researcher. Her recent program of work has identified and characterised patients who have had heart attacks without the standard modifiable risk factors (SMuRFs). She and her team are currently working towards diagnostic tools to identify risk in a different way, potentially saving many thousands of lives.

She is also an advocate, collaborator, leader and mentor. As President of the ACvA, Professor Figtree has shown her dedication and commitment to the promotion and advocacy of cardiovascular research including working with a national team to secure $220 Million Federal funding for the Mission for Cardiovascular Health which provides a strategic approach to funding research and a must needed boost to addressing the nation’s number one killer.

Her vision is to build a positive culture and pathway for the next generation of researchers, working closely with government, health and industry partners to directly address unmet needs in cardiovascular health and build a sector which is more impactful, relevant and sustainable.

Professor Figtree says, receiving the Award was both an honour and a surprise.

“I’m honoured to receive this award. I see it as an acknowledgement of how vital cardiovascular research is and the contribution that it makes to Australian lives. There has been a palpable sense of apathy around heart disease- with common perception that it’s all solved or understood, and that individuals who suffer events have somehow treated themselves badly. This is not the case. Cardiovascular disease is still Australia’s biggest killer. This is not an inevitable situation. Australian researchers can lead the way over the next 10 years to unravel answers to the significant variation in individual susceptibility to heart disease and stroke and improve personalised preventative strategies.”

She thanks the ACvA leadership and members for their support of her work and vision.

“I’m humbled by the opportunity I’ve had to work with the ACvA leadership group and members. Together we’re shifting the model of research. We’re moving towards enhanced impact through a coordinated army of researchers, whose work is connected to the biggest areas of unmet need in cardiovascular research.”

She also thanks her family for their continued support, particularly after her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer last year.

“I owe a massive thank you to my family. I couldn’t do any of this without their support, especially during my treatment and recovery.”

Her determination to help transform the sector is driven by the compassion she has for her patients with the patient experience being something she is even more aware of now.

“Being on the other side of the clinician/patient relationship has really reinforced my motivation to work on improving the patient experience.”

Professor Figtree also noted that it has been a great year for cardiovascular research with another AM going to cardiologist and researcher Professor Clara Chow with whom she has worked closely in many roles.

“I’d like to congratulate Clara. It’s so important for female leadership and achievements to be visible and for our future generation of clinician researchers to have female role models.”

In addition to her role as ACvA President, Professor Figtree is also an interventional cardiologist and a Professor in Medicine at the University of Sydney. She co-leads the Cardiovascular Theme for Sydney Health Partners, a NHMRC Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre and is the Chair of the University of Sydney’s multi-disciplinary Cardiovascular Initiative.

Media enquiries

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

Nina Cullen, ACvA Communications Manager, nina.cullen@