Professor Rebecca Ritchie to head DDB

Leading cardiovascular disease researcher Professor Rebecca Ritchie has been appointed as the new Theme Leader of the Drug Discovery Biology Theme in the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS).

Professor Ritchie is currently an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Heart Failure Laboratory at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.

She will be replacing former Theme Leader, Professor Arthur Christopoulos, who stepped down from the position to assume his new role as Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in August of this year. Professor Ritchie will commence on 28 October, 2019.

A graduate of the Dept of Medicine (Cardiology) at the University of Adelaide under the supervision of Professor John Horowitz, Professor Ritchie’s PhD focussed on predictors of myocardial function in vivo in patients with coronary heart disease, including development of the first quantitative model of the force-interval relationship in human myocardium. Her postdoctoral training (with Prof James Marsh in the Program of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology at Wayne State University 1995-1997, USA) and the Florey (with Prof Greg Dusting, 1997-2002) led to her recruitment to the Baker (from late 2002).

Professor Ritchie leads a dynamic, internationally-recognised research program identifying new strategies to treat heart failure, particularly secondary to diabetes and myocardial infarction. Her research achievements to date have enabled her to identify potential new treatment strategies, both pharmacological and gene delivery-based, for arresting the progression of heart failure in preclinical models of human disease. As heart failure is a major cause of death worldwide for which there is no effective treatment, her efforts to identify new drug strategies for delaying or arresting its progression address an urgent, unmet clinical need.

“I am absolutely delighted that an outstanding researcher with a such strong track record in discovery, a passion for research translation, a mentor of next generation field leaders and a champion of equity and diversity in science has chosen to lead the next phase of growth and development of Drug Discovery Biology,”  Professor Christopoulos said.

“The appointment of Professor Ritchie to the role of Theme Leader in Drug Discovery Biology continues our ambitious strategy of targeted recruitments that add critical mass and depth in a program that is rapidly expanding within our Institute and our University," said MIPS Director Professor Chris Porter.

“Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in Australia and overseas, and the appointment of Rebecca will accelerate our efforts in developing novel strategies to understand and target this major global health burden. In her new role, Rebecca will also become a member of both the Faculty and MIPS Executive leadership groups, and we look forward to her exciting contributions as we advance the impactful translational therapeutic programs of MIPS and the Faculty in the coming years," he said.

Professors Christopoulos and Porter also wished to thank Professor Patrick Sexton, who generously stepped into the role of Acting Theme Leader of Drug Discovery Biology while the new recruitment process was underway.