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Our partnership with Sydney Local Health District is built into the foundations of the Heart Research Institute. The creation of HRI was spearheaded by cardiologists at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. David Richmond, Phil Harris and David Kelly had a vision of a financially autonomous medical research institute, which would exist in the supportive environments of The University of Sydney and the hospital. On 17 March 1989, HRI opened its doors. This institute would allow scientists to be inspired by the challenges encountered at the patient's bedside, while also giving them access to the multidisciplinary capabilities of a major university – a model for how contemporary medical research institutes organise themselves for maximum translational impact and improved public health outcomes today.

Sydney Research

We are proud to be a partner of Sydney Research, a unique cluster of world-class health and medical institutions and facilities formed to harness expertise and leadership in teaching, research and education within industry, academia and healthcare sectors.

Established by Sydney Local Health District in 2013, Sydney Research brings together clinicians, researchers and industry partners from across 22 leading organisations to optimise research innovation, translation and implementation while also ensuring cutting-edge research delivers outcomes for patients and improves the health and wellbeing of our population.

RPA Hos­pi­tal, Syd­ney Local Health Dis­trict and Charles Perkins Cen­tre com­bine the exper­tise, infra­struc­ture and ener­gy for clin­i­cal and research excel­lence.” – Dr Fre­da Pas­sam, Haema­tol­ogy Research Group Leader

Clinical research

Initially founded by cardiologists from Sydney Local Health District, HRI has maintained a strong tradition of clinical research ever since that has led to multiple breakthroughs. Some groundbreaking discoveries made by HRI clinical researchers within Sydney Local Health District hospitals include:

  • Establishing the world’s first multidisciplinary hypertrophic cardiomyopathy clinic, for the management of individuals and families with inherited cardiac disorders. David Richmond, one of HRI’s founders, 1991
  • Proving the link between passive smoking and heart disease, research that became pivotal in the global move to ban smoking in public places. Clinical Research Group, 1995
  • Discovering that maternal cigarette smoking is associated with reduced quantities of good cholesterol in healthy 8-year-old children. Clinical Research Group, 2011
  • Finding a way to identify the one in three patients at risk of suffering heart damage after undergoing angioplasty, a simple procedure to unclog blocked arteries. Translational Research Group, 2012
  • Uncovered the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease, a world-first and a discovery with the potential to save thousands of lives. Translational Research Group, 2013

Our current generation of clinician researchers based at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital include our Clinical Director Professor David Celermajer, Associate Professors Sanjay Patel and John O’Sullivan, and Dr Freda Passam.


Honouring our shared history, Sydney Local Health District plays a leading role in the governance of HRI. There is a seat on HRI’s Board of Governors reserved for Sydney Local Health District’s Chief Executive, which Dr Teresa Anderson AM has occupied since 2012.

In addition, Professor Leonard Kritharides, Head of the Department of Cardiology at Concord Repatriation General Hospital, became Chairman of the HRI Board in 2017. He was also the first person to complete his PhD with the Heart Research Institute back in 1994.

Professor David Celermajer, Director of Echocardiography in the Cardiology Department at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, is the Clinical Director at HRI. His Clinical Research Group was first welcomed to HRI in 1994.

The part­ner­ships HRI has with Charles Perkins Cen­tre, Syd­ney Uni, Roy­al Prince Alfred Hos­pi­tal and Syd­ney Local Health Dis­trict enable us to con­sult with world experts to do cut­ting-edge research and guide trans­la­tion of poten­tial break­throughs to ben­e­fit our com­mu­ni­ties.” – Dr Anna Water­house, Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Med­ical Devices Group Leader


Sydney Local Health District are the longest-standing supporter of Illuminate – HRI’s annual celebration of science and discovery. Hosted in the inspiring surroundings of The University of Sydney’s finest venues which speak to our shared history, we celebrate the achievements of HRI’s rising stars.

Sydney Local Health District’s sponsorship includes presenting the Sydney Local Health District Award to one of our early-mid career researchers or their mentors. Recent recipients include:

  • 2019 – Associate Professor John O’Sullivan for his achievements in research into Heart Failure preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF), a type of heart failure that now accounts for more than half of all heart failure cases, but for which there are no treatments.
  • 2018 – Emeritus Professor Carolyn Geczy for her dedication in nurturing, developing and mentoring early-career researchers, and in providing support and direction on grant applications and direction of research to all of the HRI's scientists.
  • 2017 – Associate Professor Simone Schoenwaelder, who was nominated by HRI researchers for her outstanding mentorship.


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