Matthew Grounds' Speech at 20th Anniversary of Heart Disease Research

20 Years of Discovery

Celebrating 20 years at the forefront of discovery into heart disease

14 February 2014

In 2014 the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute held a fundraising ball to celebrate 20 years at the forefront of discovery into heart disease. Prime Minister Tony Abbott was the guest of honour at the black tie fundraising ball, which was headlined by the one and only Jimmy Barnes!

Heart disease still kills more Australians than all the cancers combined. Four times more women die of heart disease than breast cancer, while 1 in 100 babies are born with congenital heart disease. The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute is united in a single vision to find cures for these deadly conditions. In just 20 years, our team of 150 dedicated scientists has made many major discoveries, earning them a place on the global stage as one of the most respected institutes in the world.

The Institute is the legacy of legendary heart transplant surgeon, Dr Victor Chang, who was tragically murdered on his way to work in July 1991 in a failed extortion attempt. Dr Chang had a vision to establish a world-class medical research institute. After his death, his dream was carried forward with the establishment of the VCCRI in1994, with Prof Bob Graham at the helm.

“I often think how proud Victor would have been of all we have achieved,” Prof Graham said.

“I never cease to be surprised, but nonetheless delighted to learn how widely recognised the Institute is for its world class work and training, both nationally and internationally. Disease of the heart and blood vessels are still the major killer of Australians. While we understand a lot more about these diseases than we did 20 years ago, we have a long way to go,” he added.

Heart Beat Ball - Jimmy Barnes

Over the past two decades, thanks to our world class researchers and clinician scientists, we have made more than a dozen major breakthroughs, revolutionising medical treatment, including (but not limited to):

2014 – The discovery of how to preserve a transplant heart for up to 14 hours. Previously four hours was the maximum time. This will potentially increase the number of heart transplants by 30

2014 – Development of faster more reliable way to diagnose patients with heart diseases which cause sudden death

2014 – The discovery that the heart can regenerate in pre-adolescents, which potentially means a young heart could heal itself

2013 – The discovery that obesity and diabetes during pregnancy can cause children to develop metabolic problems later in life

2012 – Complete reversal of an inherited heart rhythm disorder in members of an entire family – some of whom were on the heart transplant wait list

2004 – Discovery that diseases can be caused not by a defective gene (mutation), but by a defect in the expression of a gene (an epi-mutation)

1998 – Researchers find first international proof that statins lower cholesterol and prevent death

1997 – Development of a test to predict those at risk of stroke from a clot in the heart

1994 – Discovery of an enzyme that also functions to regulates heart beats.

Heart Beat Ball 2014

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Julia Timms
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0457 517 355

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