A caring surgeon, researcher and humanitarian, Dr Victor Chang founded the National Heart Transplant Program at St Vincent’s Hospital in 1984 and spearheaded the Heart of St Vincent’s Appeal in 1990.
This Appeal raised much-needed funds for a Cardiac Transplant Ward and Cardiac Diagnostic Unit at St Vincent’s – and created the impetus for establishing the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute after his untimely death in 1991.
The Institute, initially under the auspices of St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, opened on 14th February 1994, thanks to generous donations from the late Kerry Packer, AC; the Federal Government; and the Australian public.
A year later, the Institute was incorporated as an independent research facility on 27th February 1995. In 1996, the Institute relocated to new premises in the Garvan Building, where its laboratories were officially opened by the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
However, the Institute was soon out-growing these premises. For this reason, funds were raised to build a state-of-the-art research facility nearby.
Through contributions from the NSW and Australian Federal Governments, the Lowy and Packer families, The Atlantic Philanthropies, the National Australia Bank, ANZ Bank, Citigroup and many others, the $80 million Lowy Packer Building was developed and formally opened by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark in 2008.
As part of the opening ceremonies, Her Royal Highness unveiled a life-sized sculpture of Dr Victor Chang, taking pride-of-place before ‘his’ new building.
Working for a bright future
In Australia, as many as 45,000 people die from heart disease every year. It remains the most common cause of hospital admissions for people aged over 65, however it can affect anyone regardless of age or gender.
Through heart surgery, Dr Victor Chang was able to save hundreds of lives, but he knew that research could save thousands.
In his memory, we have 17 laboratories across five research divisions, working with a single vision – to reduce the incidence, severity and impact of heart diseases.
While our research covers all forms of heart disease, our focus is on those that affect the heart’s muscle tissue. These are the diseases that directly affect the heart’s ability to pump enough blood for the body’s needs, and can cause electrical disturbances (arrhythmias) that, in their severest form, can lead to sudden death.
In addition, our programs address vital contemporary issues – including heart development and congenital heart disease, inherited heart diseases, the potential application of adult stem cell technologies in cardiovascular care, and how heart function is regulated in response to stresses like high blood pressure and aging.
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