Directors & Executive | Australian Cardiovascular Alliance (ACvA)

Professor Gemma A Figtree

MB BS, DPhil (Oxon), FRACP, FCSANZ, FAHA

Gemma Figtree is a Professor in Medicine at the University of Sydney. She co-leads the Cardiovascular Theme for Sydney Health Partners, a NHMRC Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre and is the Chair of the University of Sydney’s multi-disciplinary Cardiovascular Initiative. Gemma completed her DPhil at Oxford University in 2002 supported by a Rhodes Scholarship making fundamental discoveries regarding estrogen’s actions in the cardiovascular system. She is committed to improving the care for heart attack patients- using her knowledge of molecular and cellular biology to develop methods of identifying those at highest risk of adverse outcome, and discovering novel therapies to prevent and treat events, inspired by her clinical work as an interventional cardiologist. She has dedicated herself throughout her career to unravelling key differences in susceptibility and response to heart attack in women, with studies extending from the bench to clinical trials. Discoveries in her Laboratory have been published in leading journals Circulation, European Heart Journal, and FRBM, with > 130 publications. GF is a principal investigator on grants >$7 mill. Having recently completed a co-funded NHMRC CDF and Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship, she has been awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Excellence Award for Top Ranked Practitioner Fellow (Australia), commencing in 2018. She is committed to the advancement of her field and serves as a member of the Editorial Board of leading international cardiovascular journals Circulation and Cardiovascular Research, as well as being a founding editorial board member for Redox Biology, and an Associate Editor for Heart, Lung and Circulation. Her research and clinical perspective and leadership are recognised by her membership of the Scientific Board of Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (responsible for International Relations), and her appointment to the Expert Advisory Panel for NHMRC Structural Review of Grants Program (2016-17), and as well as the Clinical Issues Committee of the Heart Foundation. She is committed to the promotion and advocacy of cardiovascular research, working with the ACvA and the Federal government to secure strategic funding for the Mission for Cardiovascular Health. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and serves/has served as a non-executive Director on multiple community Boards.

Livia Hool – founding Secretary

PhD, FAHA, FCSANZ

Livia Hool completed her PhD in Sydney and moved to The University of Western Australia as a NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellow in 1998 to establish the laboratory after completing postdoctoral research in the School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA. She is Head of the Cardiovascular Electrophysiology Laboratory in the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology and has received continuous competitive funding from national and international granting bodies including the American Heart Association, Australian Research Council and National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) since obtaining her PhD in 1995. Her research focuses on the role of calcium in the excitability of the heart and in the regulation of mitochondrial energetics, with an emphasis on designing therapy to prevent the development of cardiomyopathy and heart failure.
Professor Hool is Executive member of the World Council of International Society for Heart Research (ISHR) and President of ISHR Australasian Section (2013-16). She is a Fellow of the American Heart Association and a Fellow of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand. She develops cardiovascular health policy internationally (ISHR World Council) and nationally with Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand as a member of Scientific Committee. She has held numerous positions on university committees, society councils including World Congresses, grant review panels for WA Department of Health, ARC, Heart Foundation of Australia, NHMRC and Canadian Institutes for Health Research. She serves on the Editorial Boards of International Journal of Cardiology, Journal of Physiology (London) and Heart Lung Circulation.

Stephen Nicholls – founding Treasurer

MBBS, PhD

Professor Stephen Nicholls is Deputy Director and Heart Health Theme Leader at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). He is Professor of Cardiology at the University of Adelaide and a Consultant Cardiologist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He completed his medical training in Adelaide, cardiology training at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle and his PhD at the Heart Research Institute, focusing on the anti-inflammatory properties of high-density lipoproteins (HDL, the good form of cholesterol).

Professor Nicholls has published more than 520 original manuscripts, conference proceedings and book chapters, including in the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Journal of the American Medical Association and Nature Medicine.

Professor Nicholls is frequently invited to talk on a range of topics in cardiovascular disease at national and international conferences. He is currently President of the Australian Atherosclerosis Society and serves on the board of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand

His major research interests include studying the impact of factors that influence the ability of ‘Good Cholesterol’ to protect against heart disease, development of novel plaque imaging modalities in clinical practice and performing large scale clinical trials of novel therapies.

Robert M. Graham

AO, FAA, FAHMS, MBBS, MD, FRACP, FACP, FAHA

Professor Robert M. Graham received his medical training at University of New South Wales where he is now the Des Renford Professor of Medicine, (UNSW). He has been the inaugural Executive Director, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute (VCCRI), Sydney, Australia, since returning to Australia in 1994 after 17 years in the US working at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas; the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He maintains an active clinical practice as a consultant physician in cardiorenal diseases.
A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, and Foreign Member, Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, his research focuses on molecular cardiology, with emphasis on circulatory control mechanisms, hypertension, receptor signalling and cardiac hypertrophy, as well as cardiac regeneration and the application of stem cells for the treatment of heart diseases.
Professor Graham is a Fellow of the American Heart Association; Life Member, Heart Foundation of Australia (NSW Division), and Member, American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Appointments and Promotions Committees of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Australia, the Centre for Vascular Research, UNSW, Mesoblast Ltd., Melbourne, and Zensun Ltd., Shanghai; and Chairman, Scientific Advisory Board of The Bosch Institute, University of Sydney and the Oxford Nuffield Medical Fellowships Committee (Australia), and Board Member, VCCRI; EngeneIC Ltd, Sydney; the Lowy Medical Research Institute (LMRI) and Board of Scientific Governors, LMRI MacTel Project.
Professor Graham served two terms on the Research Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and on numerous NHMRC Fellowship and Grant Review Panels. He serves or has served on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Circulation Research, Circulation, Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology and Molecular Pharmacology.

Ben Freedman

Professor Ben Freedman, OAM is Deputy Director Cardiovascular Strategy at Sydney’s Heart Research Institute and Charles Perkins Centre. He is Professor of Cardiology at the University of Sydney and former head of Department of Cardiology Concord Hospital. He is also Visiting Professor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine at Monash University, and Honorary Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne. He was Deputy Dean of Sydney Medical School for 9 years from 2003-12, and received the Faculty’s inaugural Distinguished Service Award in 2012. He is Group leader of the Heart Rhythm and Stroke Group of the Heart Research Institute. His research interests are broad but now focus on stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation: his group’s work on screening was nominated as a finalist in the Australian Innovation award in 2013. With five others, he formed the AF-SCREEN International Collaboration which now has 150 members from 33 countries, including many of the foremost names in AF research, and recently produced an important white paper on screening for AF published in Circulation. He has authored over 200 publications. In 2002 he was scientific chairman of the successful World Congress of Cardiology. He holds Fellowships of RACP, CSANZ, ACC, AHA and ESC. For many years he has been on the editorial board and regular interviewer for ACCEL, the continuing education vehicle of the American College of Cardiology. In 2011 he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for service to medicine as a clinician, educator and researcher.

Andrew Murphy

Associate Professor Andrew Murphy is NHMRC Career Development Fellow and National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow, recipient of a CSL Centenary Award. He is head of the Haematopoiesis and Leukocyte Biology laboratory and head of the Centre for Immunometabolism at the Baker Heart Research Institute. He also holds an adjunct appointment at Monash University in the Department of Immunology. Andrew completed is PhD in 2008 in Prof Jaye Chin-Dusting’s laboratory at the Baker and postdoc’d in Prof. Alan Tall’s group at Columbia University where he was an American Heart Association Fellow. In 2013 he returned to Australia to begin his own group. His work largely focuses on how inflammatory diseases associated with cardiovascular disease, including diabetes, obesity and rheumatoid arthritis cause the overproduction of innate immune cells (monocytes, neutrophils and platelets) and how this contributes to atherogenesis or impaired lesion regression. His group also examines post-ischemic inflammation and how this can be controlled for better functional outcomes post-myocardial infarction and stroke. Another strong focus of his work is understand the metabolism of stem cells and innate immune cells in the context of metabolic diseases, haematopoietic stressors and neural signals. Furthermore, his laboratory studies fundamental biological process regulating haematopoiesis. He has published a number of manuscripts in leading journals including Nature Medicine, Cell Stem Cell, Cell Metabolism and JCI. He currently holds 2 NHMRC project grants and an ASTAR-NHMRC obesity grant and has previously been supposed by Diabetes Australia.

Mark Nelson

Mark Nelson is Professor and Chair, Discipline of General Practice, University of Tasmania and Senior Professorial Fellow, Menzies Institute for Medical Research, and an Adjunct Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University. His research interests are around large-scale clinical trials in CVD prevention in primary care. He has 200 peer reviewed scientific publications, has been awarded more than $70 million in competitive grants and is a principal investigator on the NIH sponsored ASPREE study (N = 19,114) investigating if aspirin extends healthy active life. He also has been an author on multiple guidelines for CVD prevention and treatment and remains in clinical general practice in Hobart.

Christopher Reid

Christopher Reid is a cardiovascular epidemiologist with appointments as Research Professor in both the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University and the Schoolof Public Health at Curtin University. He was appointed as a John Curtin Distinguished Professor in 2018 and is Director of the Monash and Curtin Centre’s of Cardiovascular Research and Education (CCRE) and the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Cardiovascular Outcomes Improvement (2016-2020).  He holds a National Health and Medical Research Council Principal Research Fellowship (2018-2022) in addition to being the Chief Investigator on an NHMRC Program Grant (2016-2020) focusing on cardiovascular disease prevention.  He has been awarded over $113M as a Chief Investigator and has received continuous NHMRC funding since 2001.  His major research interests include clinical outcome registries, randomized controlled trials, and epidemiological cohort studies.  He has over 350 peer-reviewed publications, many of which are in leading journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, JACC and the BMJ.  He has been Study Director for the 2nd Australian National Blood Pressure (ANBP2) Study and currently a Chief Investigator for the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) Study, the Statins in Reducing Events in the elderly Trial and the Australian arms of the HOPE-3, REACH and CLARIFY Registries. He is a Principal Investigator for the Victorian Cardiac Procedures Registry Project, the Melbourne Interventional Group (MIG) registry, and the ANZSCTS National Cardiac Surgical Registry.  He participates as a WHO consultant for prevention of cardiovascular disease in Mongolia, Vietnam and the West Pacific region.

Karlheinz Peter

Professor Karlheinz Peter is a senior interventional cardiologist at the Alfred Hospital and a basic scientist and Deputy Director (Basic and Translational Research) at Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. He is Professor of Medicine and Immunology at Monash University and Pharmaceutical Science at RMIT and he holds a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) principal research fellowship.

Professor Peter has been working for many years and continues to work as an interventional cardiologist, including previously as the head of the cardiac catheter laboratory at the University of Freiburg, Germany. He did his postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore and at Scripps Research Foundation, La Jolla, USA. He did most of his clinical training at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. His research is focused on the cellular mechanisms of coronary artery disease and its consequence, myocardial infarction, encompassing the role of platelets, coagulation and inflammation in atherosclerosis, as well as the mechanisms leading to the rupture of atherosclerotic plaques. He has developed novel biomarker (proteomic and microRNA) approaches and molecular imaging strategies using MRI, ultrasound, CT and PET towards the localisation of thrombi, inflammatory reactions and vulnerable, rupture-prone plaques and the identification of patients at risk of myocardial infarction.

David Kaye

Professor David Kaye is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and a Heart Failure/Transplant physician at the Alfred Hospital Melbourne. Prof Kaye’s research has been directed towards the characterisation of the pathophysiology of heart failure, with a particular emphasis on the identification of novel mechanisms that can be targeted for therapeutic intervention. Prof Kaye has been highly successful in the generation of intellectual property leading to commercial and clinical outcomes.

He is an Adjunct Professor at Monash University. He leads the Heart Failure Research laboratory, which comprises 4 senior post-docs, 2 RAs, 2 PhD students and 2 BSc(Hons) students. Prof Kaye is Chair of the Medical Advisory Boards for Opsrey Medical and Cardiora Pty Ltd, both companies which he founded based upon intellectual property he generated.

Professor Jonathan Golledge

Professor Jonathan Golledge is Head of the Queensland Research Centre for Peripheral Vascular Disease and its pre-clinical arm The Vascular Biology Unit (VBU) at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University. Professor Golledge joined JCU in 2002 and established the Vascular Biology Unit with the aim of carrying out research intended to be translated into improved management of aortic aneurysm and other peripheral vascular conditions. We continue to seek high quality students and researchers to join our group. Trained as a vascular specialist, Professor Golledge took 2 years out of specialist training to obtain experience in research techniques as part of a Cambridge MChir (Doctoral equivalent), UK. His research commitment is illustrated by a large number of presentations at International and National meetings and publications in peer-reviewed journals, including a large number in top specialised journals.

Professor Golledge holds a conjoint position between the School of Medicine and Dentistry and Queensland Health, where he works as a vascular surgeon. In addition to providing a high-quality clinical service his principal aspiration is to improve management of peripheral vascular diseases. The research impact of this is evidenced by external grant support from the NIH, NHMRC, Queensland Government, NHF and other bodies. Of note in 2010 Professor Golledge led a successful bid to establish a NHMRC funded centre of research excellence for Peripheral Vascular Disease.

Past Directors

We would like to acknowledge and thank our Past Directors for their dedication and efforts to support our mission:

2015 – 2017 – Professor Jaye Chin-Dusting, Founding President
2015 – 2017 – Professor Kerry-Ann Rye, Founding Director
2015 – 2017 – Professor Thomas Marwick, Founding Director