Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute: Home of Heart Research for 30 Years

30 years of discovery

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute has made a multitude of major advances in heart research, many revolutionising our understanding of disease causes, treatment and prevention. Here are just a few examples of what we have achieved since we opened our doors in 1994:


  • Our scientists show for the first time the role genetics plays in the heart function of elite athletes in a new landmark study involving 281 elite athletes from Australia and Belgium revealing how one in six have measures that would normally suggest reduced heart function. Read the press release.
  • Our scientists have identified a molecule that plays a key role in how cells detect when they are being pushed or pulled which could lead to the development of future drugs for obesity, osteoporosis, and inflammatory diseases. Read the press release.


  • Our scientists identify an important new mechanism that causes the heart’s muscle to thicken which markedly increases the risk of irregular heart rhythms and heart failure, potentially heralding the way for a new treatment for cardiac hypertrophy. Read the press release.
  • Researchers at the Institute have developed a new electrical test that can screen hundreds of gene mutations to pinpoint the exact mutations that are harmful to the heart for those suffering from inherited heart disorders syndromes, which can cause sudden death. Read the press release.
  • Scientists at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney develop a new MRI technique they hope will transform the way specialists monitor rejection and is far less invasive than a biopsy changing the lives of heart transplant survivors the world over. Read the press release.
  • The genes most likely to trigger a heart attack are identified by a global team led by the Institute’s Professor Jason Kovacic and the Icahn School of Medicine in New York. The research published in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine ranks 162 genes and paves the way for a new field of targeted therapies for those at risk of coronary heart disease. Read the press release.
  • A whole new avenue for screening heart conditions providing the first comprehensive map of how these genes are operating is presented by the Institute's Professor Jason Kovacic and researchers from The Karolinksa Institute and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Read the press release.


  • A study led by the Institute's Professor Richard Harvey finds a novel defensive reaction that could help limit cardiac damage after a heart attack. It’s hoped this collaborative research will lead to the development of life-changing therapies. Read the press release.
  • Our scientists, as part of a global team, pinpoint the key genetic drivers of fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) which it’s hoped will lead to better diagnosis for the disease which may affect up to one in 20 women. Read the press release.
  • A potentially life-saving treatment for heart attack victims from a very unlikely source – the venom of one of the world’s deadliest spiders is discovered in an incredible world-first collaboration led by the Institute's Professor Peter Macdonald. Read the press release.
  • In a world-first, scientists at the Institute, led by Dr Kazu Kikuchi, discover a critical new gene that it is hoped could help human hearts repair damaged heart muscle after a heart attack. Read the press release.
  • As part of an international team, our Executive Director Professor Jason Kovacic makes a world-first discovery that could in the future help reduce heart attacks in women, identifying major molecular and genomic differences between men and women at high risk of having a heart attack. Read the press release.
  • In a momentous breakthrough, led by Dr Emily Wong, our scientists have found that humans, and most likely the entire animal kingdom, share important genetic mechanisms with a jelly-like sea sponge that comes from the Great Barrier Reef. Incredibly this means it has been preserved across 700 million years of evolution. Read the press release.


    • Our scientists in Western Australia make a breakthrough discovery in the treatment of an inherited heart disease that is the leading cause of death in children aged between 5 and 15. Read the press release.


      • Our researchers have discovered a metabolite that causes blood vessels to dilate and can lead to dangerously low blood pressure in patients suffering septicaemia, which kills 100 Australians each week. Read more.


      • In a world first, our scientists developed an ‘early warning system’ to help identify and treat people at high risk of heart attack – and
        prevent it from occurring. Find out more.


      • Our scientists discovered that zebrafish have a special type of immune cell which enables them to heal their own hearts. The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute is now exploring the potential of self-healing in humans. Read the press release.
      • In a blockbuster breakthrough that could change the way pregnant women are cared for globally, our researchers discovered that vitamin B3 has the potential to reduce recurrent miscarriages and various birth defects. Read more


      • Our scientists discovered how to limit the damage after a heart attack, which could help the 45,000 Australians who suffer a heart attack each year. Read the press release.


      • Our professors developed the revolutionary Heart-in-a-Box transplantation technique using a unique preservation solution created at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. The discovery led to the world first transplantation of a heart that was revitalised after it had stopped beating. The method has now been adopted at hospitals around the world, saving the lives of 30% more patients with severe heart failure. Discover more.
      • In another world first, our scientists develop a faster more reliable way of diagnosing patients at risk of sudden cardiac death by simulating hundreds of thousands of heartbeats in a virtual heart. Read more.
      • Overturning a century of scientific dogma, we discovered that the heart can regenerate in pre-adolescents, which potentially means a heart could heal itself. Read the press release.


      • Researchers have found that obesity and diabetes during pregnancy can cause children to develop metabolic problems later in life
      • For the first time, our scientists show the importance of a single gene in forming the large vessels of the heart.


      • Thanks to our scientists, an entire family is cured of a life-threatening, inherited heart rhythm disorder. Some family members had such severe heart failure they were on the transplant waiting list.
      • Our researchers made a fundamental discovery that shows for the first time how ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ interact to cause birth defects.


      • Our scientists identify and characterise a new population of stem cells in the adult heart.
      • Our team demonstrates how the potassium channels that carry electricity around the heart open and close, controlling heartbeats.


      • Our breakthrough discovery reveals how the tiny motors on bacteria allow them to move towards nutrients and away from toxins. This is crucial to the spread of infections, such as those causing serious heart conditions


      • In 2009, the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute develops a unique preservation solution to protect transplant hearts for up to eight hours out of a body. Previously four hours was the maximum time.
      • Researchers discovered that a poorly functioning placenta during pregnancy can affect the kidney development of an unborn child.
      • Our breakthrough discovery in 2007, demonstrated that certain types of congenital heart defects occur at a much earlier stage in the development of a baby than ever expected.
      • In 2006, our scientists showed that the diet of pregnant mothers can affect the health of their children and even their grandchildren.
      • In 2004, for the first time the Institute's scientists proved that diseases can be caused not only by a defective gene (mutation), but by an inherited defect in the expression of a gene (an epi‑mutation).
      • In 2002, the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute finds that a new drug treatment can slow the progression of pulmonary arterial hypertension – a serious and progressive disease.


      • In 1999, our scientists discover the entire cellular machinery underlying growth and enlargement of skeletal muscle
      • Researchers at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in 1998, participated in a major international trial that provided definitive proof that statins lower cholesterol and prevent death.
      • In 1997, our scientists developed a non-invasive test to predict those at risk of stroke from a clot in the heart.
      • Ground-breaking research in 1994, revealed an enzyme (previously only associated with clotting), actually has many functions and, uniquely, can also regulate how vigorously our hearts can beat.

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      Acknowledgement of Country

      The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

      Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years