Two major new research centres will be established in Australia, with $20 million committed through the Targeted Translation Research Accelerator initiative, delivered by MTPConnect. The University of Sydney is a partner on the Australian Stroke & Heart Research Accelerator (ASHRA) – the key other partners being Monash University, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and The George Institute for Global Health (Australia).
Each Centre has been awarded $10 million over four years through the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund, with the University of Sydney’s Professor Clara Chow announced as ASHRA director for the first year.
Together, ASHRA and the Diabetes Research Centre have attracted co-contributions from academic and industry partners, totalling $33.8 million.
Clara Chow, a Professor of Medicine and academic director of the Westmead Applied Research Centre, said ASHRA would bring together experts from all key areas to tackle heart disease and stroke effectively.
“We as sector leaders feel both a responsibility and excitement that ASHRA can bring together the collective skills of clinicians, academics, industry, government and the community to effectively solve the problem of heart disease and stroke,” Professor Chow said.
ASHRA has identified an initial portfolio of 13 high-potential research projects with significant commercialisation and impact opportunities for initial funding. These projects span pre-clinical, clinical and policy pathways in the three target areas of coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy and heart failure and transient ischaemic attack/stroke; and cover digital health, medical devices, therapeutics and behavioural interventions.
University of Sydney Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison said ASHRA represented a significant advance for cardiovascular disease and stroke research.
“This virtual centre recognises the need to embrace culture change, capacity building and commercial partnerships to achieve our goals to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease,” Professor Ivison said.
Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health, Professor Robyn Ward, said the research centre offered the opportunity for major advances in heart disease and stroke, which remained the leading cause of death in Australia and globally.
“We are excited about the potential of a united national cardiac centre that can galvanise the cardiovascular sector in Australia to transform the ideas of our amazing scientists into impacting and improving the health and wellbeing of Australians,” Professor Ward said.
Professor Steve Nicholls, deputy centre director, year 1, and Monash University node director, said ASHRA would focus on the key areas of diseases of blood vessels, heart failure and stroke – which all have a major health impact for Australia.
“We want to rapidly move these discoveries to the clinic,” Professor Nicholls said.
“We will also embed a culture in entrepreneurship as we train the next generation of researchers to see translation of their discoveries to practice, being the major reason to do what we do.”
MTPConnect managing director and CEO, Dr Dan Grant, said the research centres signalled a new approach to boosting the translation and commercialisation of Australian research.
“The research centres are truly patient-focused and will deliver better health outcomes and reduce the burden of disease and health inequities in Australia, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, rural and remote communities and other under-served populations,” Dr Grant added.