2021 Game Changer Award Winner
These researchers and their teams are innovating and transforming how we do things in field of cardiovascular disease.
Heart attacks and strokes are time critical. 17,000 people die each year in Australia from them. The longer a patient waits to get treatment, the greater the injury to the heart or brain. There are currently no drugs which can protect the heart or brain during this time.
Dr Sarah Scheuer and a team of world class researchers:team Dr Meredith Redd, Natalie Saez, Professor Nathan Palpant, Professor Peter McDonald and Professor Glenn King have found that a drug candidate from the venom of a Fraser Island funnel web spider can prevent tissue damage caused by heart attack or stroke and can extend the life of donor hearts used for transplants. This peptide drug candidate is known as Hi1a. This has far-reaching implications for the lives of rural and regional patients, those waiting for transplants and for outcomes after a heart attack or stroke.
Hi1a directly targets the tissue damage caused by heart attack and stroke. It’s designed to decrease the mortality which is associated with these diseases and improve the functional outcomes and quality of life for survivors. The flow on would be a significant reduction of these diseases with positive implications for healthcare systems around the world. The integrity of donor heart tissue can also be preserved using Hi1a. Donor hearts can then be transported over greater distances increasing the pool of available donors and recipients.
This exciting new finding has a clear route to clinical translation and could also signal a paradigm shift in the management of acute ischaemia, the underlying cause of most cases of cardiovascular disease- still the largest cause of death and disability in Australia.
Dr Sarah Scheuer is currently a Cardiothoracic Surgical Trainee at Royal Melbourne Hospital.
2021 Translation Award Winner
From lab bench to real life, the research ideas and observations from these Finalists and their teams are improving the health of individuals and the entire community.
Professor Clive May’s research program over the last 20 years has focused on understanding the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease, with a focus on sepsis, heart failure and cardiopulmonary bypass. His research goal is to develop targeted therapies and new devices that can be rapidly translated to improve patient health outcomes.
Professor May has transformed this research field using pioneering surgical techniques and devices that allow continuous evaluation of the pathophysiology of life-threatening cardiovascular diseases. He has forged numerous clinical alliances to create a world-renowned and clinically relevant large animal surgical and preclinical critical care unit at the Florey Institute.
His previous research has revolutionised the management of septic shock in humans and has saved and continues to save thousands of lives since its FDA and EMA approval. Professor May has also played a central role in the development of a novel intravascular brain-machine-interface, the Stentrode, which has already improved the quality of life in 4 motor neurone disease patients in Melbourne.
Most recently, his research using intravenous megadoses of Vitamin C has already saved the life of one critically-ill septic patient with COVID-19 in Melbourne.
These complex studies require an experienced and dedicated team of researchers who are determined to undertake long-term experimental studies. Professor May is clear that research is a collaboration and wants to recognise the essential role these dedicated scientists have played in his research achievements.
His peers quote his contribution to translational medicine in the field of sepsis as extraordinary and say there is no one in Australia, in this field, with his record of achievement and very few people in the world.
Professor Clive May is currently a Senior Principal Research Fellow at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.
2021 Mentor Award Finalists
These individuals have made ongoing and significant contributions to the research profession through outstanding mentoring. Mentorship rarely ‘counts’ in the tangible and traditional metrics of a career, but it matters and that’s what these Finalists and all our nominees recognise.
Professor Geoffrey Head is a role model with over 40 years of research experience. Through his work and active mentorship, he has made enormous contributions to major advances in blood pressure research and management for patients.
Both peers and mentees talk of him as a man of integrity, honesty and generosity. His strength, as a researcher and mentor, is to give his students his very best ideas, allowing them to make real discoveries. He provides rigorous training in the methods used to test these ideas and he teaches the importance of honest evaluation of the results. The results may not fit the ideas but there is always scientific truth to be learnt from them.
He’s always been a strong supporter of mentoring younger colleagues, not only through direct supervision but also with collaborators from other Australian and overseas laboratories. Over the course of his career, he has mentored more than 100 students and early/mid-career researchers.
He takes part in formal mentoring programs with the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia and International Society of Hypertension as well as co-supervising several post-doctoral students every year.
His mentees, who often work with him for years, laud his generosity, extraordinary leadership, practical help and guidance. They describe him as an amazing source of inspiration and a model of scientific excellence. They also note his continuous support for gender equality.
His mentees have won medals, published papers, sat on executive committees, are leaders in their fields and are now mentors themselves.
Professor Head is currently the Head of the Neuropharmacology Laboratory at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.