University of Sydney heart research could save millions of lives each year

No one knows why our hearts fail. But a ground-breaking research project led by Dr Lal at the University of Sydney could be our best chance of finding an answer.

Twenty-four years ago, Dr Sean Lal’s father was diagnosed with heart failure.

Thanks to a life-saving transplant performed by University of Sydney alumnus Dr Victor Chang, Sean was given another six years to spend with his dad before he passed away.

It was during those years that Sean made a decision that would change his life, and the lives of others.

“I decided that I wanted to not only study medicine but become a heart specialist.”

Today Dr Lal and his research team at the University of Sydney are on the verge of exciting discoveries that could create a better world for millions of people.

Dr Sean Lal in the lab
Dr Sean Lal in the lab

Dr Lal’s research builds on a precious resource of more than 17,000 samples of human hearts collected by medical researchers over the past 30 years.

New advancements in technology mean Dr Lal and his team can further progress their research, including sequencing the heart tissue samples. This could provide the vital clues they need to help prevent Australia’s leading cause of death.

Dr Lal is incredibly proud. “We are talking about possibly the biggest study of human heart failure ever undertaken in the world to create a not-for-profit resource that would be available to leading Australian and international researchers in heart failure.”

As part of their research, Dr Lal and his incredible team are aiming to sequence thousands of heart tissue samples stored at a state-of-the-art biobanking facility at the University. This involves analysing the heart tissue and recording the results in a large database that is accessible to his team and other leading heart researchers around the globe.

“We want to characterise every single gene, every single protein, every single enzyme in each sample of the heart.

Then we will be able to better understand the reasons why certain hearts fail. And that could lead to brand new discoveries that will ultimately help to reverse or prevent heart failure,” explains Dr Lal.

Every heart tissue sample sequenced by Dr Lal and his team gets them another step closer to finding new preventions and treatments for heart disease.

Dr Lal’s research isn’t just about learning more about human hearts. It is ultimately about saving lives.

“Through this research, we may be able to prolong the life of someone else like my dad who has had heart failure. We could even prevent heart failure from happening in the first place.”