UQ Faculty of Medicine launches Health Matters

8 Mar 2017

Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of poor health and premature death and preventing heart disease and treating it when diagnosed represent major areas of research.

Ultimately replacing a damaged heart is required but with a global shortage of donor hearts, research is more vital than ever before, those attending the first Health Matters lecture series have been told.

The University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine 2017 lecture series was launched recently with world-leading heart research presented to an audience of 150 guests at Customs House in Brisbane.

Professor John Fraser of UQ’s Prince Charles Hospital Clinical Unit told the audience that modern mechanics and heart muscle regeneration are improving the lives of Australians who suffer from cardiovascular diseases.

Professor Fraser co-founded biVACOR, a total artificial heart company, to counter the shortage of donor hearts as more than 300,000 Australians suffer heart failure but only 4,000 donor hearts are available globally each year.

Professor Fraser highlighted the dramatic improvements in bioengineering that have taken place during recent years resulting in remarkable advances in artificial heart equipment.

Dr Nathan Palpant from the UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience said deaths attributable to heart disease will increase up to 50 per cent over the next 20 years so research is more important than ever.

Dr Palpant’s lab uses stem cells and disease modelling to study the mechanisms underlying cardiac and vascular development and disease.

Tantalisingly, these same cells could be used to treat damaged heart cells in a diseased heart thereby replacing the need in some instances for transplantation.

Professor Sean Emery, Research Dean of UQ’s Faculty of Medicine said it is important that the public are given an opportunity to engage with biomedical researchers.  

“Coronary heart disease, the most common underlying cause of death in Australia for people over the age of 45 is clearly an important topic,” Professor Emery said.

“This event showcases research that can lead directly to improved outcomes for patients, including the total artificial heart therapy discussed at the lecture.

“Through the Health Matters lecture series we are aiming to connect researchers with the broader community.

“Universities can sometimes appear to be a bit remote and not terribly connected to matters of health and life, and as a consequence we can seem somewhat abstract from the real world.

“These seminar opportunities provide us with a great way to connect people to UQ research that is looking to solve global health problems.”

The next Health Matters public lecture will address the topic of mental health on Tuesday 23 May, 2017 at 6:00pm.

View images from the ‘From Broken to Bionic’ Health Matters seminar here.

Contact: Bernadette O’Connor, bernadette.oconnor@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 5118, 0431 533 209.