Heart Foundation boosts BDI research

Two Biomedicine Discovery Institute researchers have been successful in this year’s round of Heart Foundation grants. Dr Bradley Edwards has received a Future Leader Fellowship, while Associate Professor Roger Evans was awarded a Vanguard Grant.

Dr Edwards’ said the Heart Foundation fellowship would go towards research to help personalise treatment for those suffering from sleep apnoea.

“Obstructive sleep apnoea is a common disorder where the airway repeatedly closes through the night, which has serious consequences for cardiovascular health,” Dr Edwards said.

“The gold standard treatment – wearing a mask connected to a machine that blows air into your airway to prevent airway collapse – is highly effective, but many people don’t tolerate the treatment well,” Dr Edwards said.

The Future Leader Fellowship will provide Dr Edwards, who is also a member of the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences (MICCN), with funding over the coming four years, with the treatment tools generated through his work immediately translatable to clinical practice.

Associate Professor Roger Evans said his Vanguard Grant would go towards developing new ways to protect the kidneys during open heart surgery.

“Almost one-third of patients that undergo heart surgery will experience kidney injury after their operation, but we know little about why this happens and how we can prevent this damage,” Associate Professor Evans said.

“From information derived from mathematical modelling and preliminary studies we suspect that low oxygen levels in the kidney during surgery are causing this damage.

“We have also shown that we can monitor levels of oxygen in the vulnerable part of the kidney by measuring the level of oxygen in the urine in the bladder. This Heart Foundation grant will allow us to measure urinary levels of oxygen in patients undergoing open heart surgery, to determine whether low levels of oxygen in the urine predict later development of kidney injury.

“If we are right, we will then have an opportunity to intervene to protect the kidney,” he said.

The Heart Foundation awarded 90 grants this year, with a total value of $16.9 million. The foundation supports Australia’s best and brightest researchers to investigate the causes, treatment and prevention of heart, stroke and blood vessel disease.