Molecular cardiology

Despite major advances in treatment and prevention, cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, stroke, heart failure) remain major causes of premature death and disability in our community. Our research covers the broad spectrum from basic laboratory to clinical and community studies of new strategies for the prevention and treatment of these important diseases.

Research Themes

The mechanisms of action of new treatments for cardiovascular disease

We discovered that aliskiren, a new treatment for high blood pressure that inhibits the enzyme renin, also increases bradykinin levels in tha heart. We are evaluating the cardiac protection that may result from this effect of aliskiren in rats.

The mechanisms of diseases of heart muscle

Heart attack and heart failure are often a consequence of abnormalities of the blood vessels off the heart muscle and of the heart muscle cells. In collaboration with cardiologists and surgeons at St Vincent's Health we established a cardiac tissue bank. With patient consent, small pieces of heart muscle are taken during open heart surgery. Together with colleagues from Melbourne and Monash universities, we are comparing heart muscle from patients with and without heart attack or heart failure to identify how differences in the blood vessels and heart muscle cells contribute to these conditions. These studies are giving important new insights into why people with obesity and diabetes are more likely to develop heart failure.

Community study of heart failure prevention

The SCREEN-HF study is a community-based investigation to discover whether a blood test (for a protein called NT-proBNP) can identify people at increased risk of heart failure. This study is a collaboration with cardiologists at St Vincent's Health, and Melbourne and Monash Universities. We have recruited 4000 people from the community and measured their blood levels of NT-proBNP. We are now performing echocardiographic tests to assess how well their heart muscle is working, and we will follow-up these individuals over 5 years to see which ones develop heart failure. Identifying people before or at the earliest stages of heart failure will help us ensure they receive currently available treatments for the prevention and treatment of heart failure.

Student Projects

  • Visit this page for a list of all student projects currently offered at SVI


Publication Highlights

  1. Roberts V, Campbell DJ, Lu B, Chia J, Cowan PJ, Dwyer KM. The differential effect of apyrase treatment and hCD39 overexpression on chronic renal fibrosis following ischemia reperfusion injury. Transplantation 2017;101:e194-e204.
  2. Gong FF, Campbell DJ, Prior DL. Non-invasive cardiac imaging and the prediction of heart failure progression in pre-clinical stage A/B subjects. JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging 2017;10:1504-1519. 
  3. Campbell DJ, Coller JM, Gong FF, McGrady M, Prior DL, Boffa U, Shiel L, Liew D, Wolfe R, Owen AJ, Krum H, Reid CM. Risk factor management in a contemporary Australian population at increased cardiovascular risk. Internal Medicine Journal 2018;48:688–698. 
  4. Gong FF, Jelinek MV, Castro JM, Coller JM,McGrady M, Boffa U, Shiel L, Liew D, Wolfe R, Stewart S, Owen AJ, Krum H, Reid CM, Prior DL, Campbell DJ. Risk factors for incident heart failure with preserved or reduced ejection fraction, and valvular heart failure, in a community-based cohort. Open Heart 2018;5:e000782. 
  5. Campbell DJ. Neprilysin inhibitors and bradykinin. Frontiers in Medicine 2018;5:257. 
  6. Campbell DJ, Gong FF, Jelinek MV, Castro JM, Coller JM,McGrady M, Boffa U, Shiel L, Wang BH, Liew D, Wolfe R, Stewart S, Owen AJ, Krum H, Reid CM, Prior DL. Prediction of incident heart failure by serum NT-proBNP level in a community-based cohort. European Journal of Heart Failure 2019;21:449-459. (Published with Editorial Commentary) 
  7. Coller JM, Gong FF, McGrady M, Jelinek MV, Castro JM, Boffa U, Shiel L, Liew D, Stewart S, Krum H, Reid CM, Prior DL, Campbell DJ. Age-specific diastolic dysfunction improves prediction of symptomatic heart failure by Stage B heart failure. ESC Heart Failure 2019;6:747-757. 
  8. Campbell DJ, Gong FF, Jelinek MV, Castro JM, Coller JM,McGrady M, Boffa U, Shiel L, Liew D, Stewart S, Owen AJ, Krum H, Reid CM, Prior DL. Threshold body mass index and sex-specific waist circumference for increased risk of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology 2019;26:1594-1602. (Published with Editorial Commentary) 
  9. Gong FF, Coller JM, McGrady M,Boffa U, Shiel L, Liew D, Stewart S, Owen AJ, Krum H, Reid CM, Prior DL, Campbell DJ. Age-related longitudinal change in cardiac structure and function in adults at increased cardiovascular risk. ESC Heart Failure. ESC Heart Fail. 2020;7:1344-1361 
  10. Dixon B, Smith RJ, Campbell DJ, Moran JL, Doig GS, Rechnitzer T, MacIsaac CM, Simpson N, van Haren FMP, Ghosh AN, Gupta S, Broadfield EJC, Crozier TME, French C, Santamaria JD, on behalf of the CHARLI Study Group. Nebulised heparin for patients with or at risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome: a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial. Lancet Respiratory Medicine (in press).