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HRI’s Dr John O’Sullivan has been awarded the 2020 Future Leader Fellowship from the Heart Foundation for his research into HFpEF, a common form of heart failure.

This highly coveted award is notable as it awards funding in 2021 for Dr O’Sullivan’s Cardiometabolic Disease research group for the project ‘Transforming the diagnosis and management of HFpEF’.

HFpEF (Heart Failure with preserved Ejection Fraction) has become the commonest type of heart failure globally. It has a poor outlook as patients typically only survive around two years from diagnosis, during which time they are chronically ill, have poor quality of life, and frequent admissions to hospital.

There is an urgent man­date to under­stand HFpEF, devel­op nov­el treat­ments and imple­ment these into clin­i­cal prac­tice,” says Dr O’Sullivan.

“This award from the Heart Foundation couldn’t have come at a better time.”

The team will focus their research on:

  • Understanding the key mechanisms underlying contributors to this disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and low oxygen due to sleep apnoea
  • Improving characterisation of HFpEF subtypes using specialised tests such as cardiac MRI and sleep studies
  • Designing tailored models-of-care for each subtype (precision medicine), using results from the above
  • Implementing tailored models-of-care and determine if they improve outcome
  • In parallel, testing a new heart-specific drug the Cardiometabolic Disease group is developing using human heart cells and human HFpEF heart tissue, in collaboration with Dr Xuyu Liu from the Cardiovascular-protective Signalling and Drug Discovery Group at HRI.

Dr O’Sullivan hopes to extend his recent work (Nat Comms paper, Eur J Heart Fail paper) into this particular type of heart failure that has no therapies. Together with Dr Sean Lal (Director of Sydney Heart Bank), he leads the new Royal Prince Alfred Hospital HFpEF clinic that will enable novel discovery while improving the lives of patients with this disease.

Click here to learn more about Dr O’Sullivan’s research in HFpEF.


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