Directors & Executive | Australian Cardiovascular Alliance (ACvA)
Professor Gemma A Figtree – President ACvA
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 mechanisms underlying susceptibility and response to heart attack, with studies extending from the bench to clinical trials. Discoveries in her Laboratory have been published in leading journals Circulation, JACC and European Heart Journal, with > 140 publications. GF is a principal investigator on grants >$8 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 Committee of the Heart Foundation. She is committed to the promotion and advocacy of cardiovascular research, working as President of the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance with a national team to secure $220 Million Federal 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.
Kerry Doyle – Executive Director
Kerry stepped across from the Heart Foundation where she has been the Chief Executive Officer at the NSW Division, and played a huge role in strategy development. She also has immense experience in working with state and federal government- from both internally and in advocacy, having previously been the Executive Director of NSW Government’s Industry, Innovation & Investment Division. Kerry has interests that span from fundamental discovery and innovation through to public health.
A key early goal for Kerry and the team that she will build around her, will be to cement the key research flagships of the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance and facilitate the drawing up of a map of current research strengths and research priorities, as well as capacity building initiatives relevant to each. In addition to formulating communication of these priorities to the independent Expert Advisory Board of the Mission, the Executive Director will work with the Board to explore opportunities with leading international industry partners, and philanthropy, as well as with the state and territory governments. Working in close collaboration with our founding partner the Heart Foundation will be greatly strengthened by having Kerry in this role.
Jamie Vandenberg – Secretary
Professor Jamie Vandenberg completed his Medical training at the University of Sydney, his PhD in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge and undertook post-doctoral training at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In 2002 he moved to the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney where he is head of the Mark Cowley Lidwill Research Program in Cardiac Electrophysiology and co-Deputy Director.
Jamie Vandenberg is a cardiac electrophysiologist whose work focuses on the molecular basis of inherited and drug-induced arrhythmia syndromes. He has made landmark discoveries in the molecular and structural basis of ion channel gating and the mechanisms underlying drug binding to the human ether-a-go-go related gene (hERG) K+ channel. He has also made significant contributions to understanding the molecular basis of inherited arrhythmia syndromes and establishing causally cohesive links from ion channel genotypes to whole organ phenotypes. He has been elected to Fellowships of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, the International Society of Heart Research and the Heart Rhythm Society.
Professor Vandenberg is passionate about mentoring and the provision of research training for the next generation of biomedical researchers. He has also served as a consultant to biotech companies advising on the pro-arrhythmic risk of drugs in the preclinical setting and currently serves on the international panel advising the Food and Drug Administration on the development of assays for assessing the pro-arrhythmic risk of drugs
Professor Vandenberg is a current member of the Council of the Australasian Division of the International Society for Heart Research (ISHR) and has previously served on the council of the Australian Physiological Society, the Australian Society for Biophysics (including 8 years on the executive) and Science Technology Australia (the peak body for Australian Science and Technology). He serves on the Editorial Board of Cardiovascular Research and formerly sat on the editorial board of the Journal of Physiology.
Stephen Nicholls – founding Treasurer
Professor Stephen Nicholls is the Director of Monash Heart and Professor of Cardiology at Monash University. He will be the Director of the Victorian Heart Hospital. He completed his cardiology training at John Hunter Hospital and PhD at the University of Adelaide, prior to holding a postdoctoral fellowship and faculty appointment at the Cleveland Clinic. He returned to Australia to serve as the inaugural Deputy Director and Heart Health Theme Leader at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute. His research interests focus on the role of metabolic risk factors and imaging in atherosclerosis, with work spanning from early discovery to leadership of large clinical trials. He is Chair of the (i) Australian Atherosclerosis Society Clinical Council, (ii) Scientific Committee of the Australia and New Zealand Alliance for Cardiovascular Trials, (iii) Asia Pacific Cardiometabolic Consortium and (iv) Future Leader Fellowship committee of the National Heart Foundation, Secretary of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and founding board member of the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance.
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.
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.
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 Jason Kovacic is the Executive Director of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. He graduated from The University of Melbourne Medical School in 1994, and then undertook residency and cardiology specialty training in interventional cardiology at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, becoming a Fellow of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2003. Jason then completed a PhD in cardiovascular medicine at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.
In 2007, he was elected as a Fellow of The American College of Cardiology and relocated to the USA, to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. At the NIH, Jason discovered critical new pathways that lead to blockage of the body’s blood vessels. Jason then moved to The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. In parallel with his vital ongoing research to define new ways to prevent and treat vascular disease, Jason is a practicing clinical cardiologist, specializing in vascular disease and blockages of the heart arteries. He has authored numerous scientific and clinical papers on heart and vascular disease and serves on a number of NIH committees. He has a particular interest in unraveling the pathobiology of the vascular diseases, fibromuscular dysplasia and spontaneous coronary artery dissection. In addition to his many achievements in medicine and in biomedical research, Professor Kovacic was an elite athlete, having been a world-class rower, plays classical guitar and speaks several languages.
Prof. Kerry Anne Rye, BSc (Hons), PhD, FAHA brings three decades of Australian-based experience in basic scientific discovery, extensive involvement in preclinical testing of drugs involved in cardiovascular clinical outcome trials and, most recently, the development of bi-functional therapies for cardiometabolic disease. Prof. Rye also holds extensive leadership experience at a national and international level. Her National Activities have involved: • Research training of the next generation of CV researchers • SPHERE CV Clinical Academic Group: A collaborative effort between UNSW and affiliated MRIs, The George Institute for Global Health, Liverpool Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital, Campbelltown Hospital, St George and Sutherland Hospitals, SESLHD, University of Technology Sydney and Western Sydney University. Prof. Rye is the co-lead for the Mechanisms and Causes of Disease theme of the program, the overarching goal of which is to reduce CV disease burden in the community. Prof. Rye’s International Activities include: American Heart Association (AHA) involvement. Vice-Chair (2012-2014) and Chair (2015-2018) of the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions Program Committee for the Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (ATVB) Council. Prof. Rye was instrumental in ensuring that the Australian CV research community was well represented on the faculty of AHA Annual Scientific Sessions. Mentoring: In 2010 Prof. Rye developed and launched the first ever Council-based mentoring program for the AHA. This program was hugely successful, was subsequently adopted by other AHA Councils, and was rolled out in an online format across the entire AHA in 2017. Leadership qualities: Selected previous and current leadership roles and responsibilities are listed below: Academic leadership roles: 2013-2015: Acting Director, Centre for Vascular Research, UNSW. 2015-2016: Head, Mechanisms of Disease and Translational Research, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW. 2016-Present: Deputy Head and Member of the Executive, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW. Chair of the School of Medical Sciences Animal Advisory Committee. Chair of the School of Medical Sciences Heads of Research Committee. Member of the Faculty of Medicine Higher Degree Research Committee. Member of the Faculty of Research Committee.
A/Prof Christina Bursill is a cardiovascular biologist with expertise in the biology and mechanisms of atherosclerosis, diabetes-impaired angiogenesis and wound healing. She is Co-director of the Vascular Research Centre at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and currently holds the National Heart Foundation Lin Huddleston fellowship. She is a Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council Centre of Nanoscale Biophotonics (CNBP) leading research that applies CNBP technologies to better detect and treat cardiovascular disease and wound healing.
Dr Chloë Flutter is the Managing Director and Partner of The Boston Consulting Group’s People & Organization and Public Sector practices in Australia and New Zealand. Since joining BCG in 2004, Chloë has worked with numerous clients in the public sector across a broad range of sectors, including health, electricity, transportation, social services, and education. She has extensive experience leading major change projects, particularly in state-owned enterprises.
Chloë’s experience in large-scale change projects in the public sector includes leading the transformation of a government-owned electricity utility, developing the transformation strategy for a government-owned education business, working with the New South Wales Treasury to implement a savings program of more than $10 billion, and supporting NSW Health to design the process and resources needs to deliver more efficiency initiatives designed to save more than $1 billion across 14 devolved local health districts. She has also supported a major Australian bank in the replacement of its core banking IT infrastructure and supported a not-for-profit hospital group in designing a clinical information and technology strategy.
Chloë is a member of the Board of Swimming Australia. Prior to joining BCG, she worked for the United Nations, as well as the international humanitarian organization Right to Play in Sydney and New York.
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
2015 – 2019 – Professor Livia Hool, Founding Secretary
2015 – 2019 – Professor Robert M. Graham, Director
2015 – 2019 – Professor Jonathan Golledge, Director
2017 – 2020 – Professor Ben Freedman, Director
2017 – 2020 – Professor Mark Nelson, Director
2017 – 2020 – A/Professor Andrew Murphy, Director