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Unravelling missing secrets of coronary artery disease with large scale clinical, advanced imaging, and “omics” data

12pm-1pm, Wednesday 8th May 2024
Presented by Prof. Gemma Figtree. Gemma  is a Professor in Medicine, The University of Sydney
Venue: Rm 277, Sydney Knowledge Hub


Identification of the four standard modifiable cardiovascular risk factors (SMuRFs)-diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidaemia, hypertension, and cigarette smoking-has allowed the development of risk scores. These have been used in conjunction with primary and secondary prevention strategies targeting SMuRFs to reduce the burden of coronary artery disease (CAD). Recent studies show that up to 25% of heart attack patients do not have any SMuRFs. Understanding individual susceptibility and resilience to developing CAD is key for developing new diagnostic tools, new drugs, and new clinical pathways to prevent heart attack. Important disease pathways remain to be discovered, and there is renewed enthusiasm to discover novel biomarkers, biological mechanisms, and therapeutic targets for atherosclerosis. Here we present the novel design of the BioHEART study, and discuss opportunities made possible by technological and data science advances. Developments in network analytics and machine learning algorithms used in conjunction with large-scale multi-omic platforms have the potential to uncover biological networks that may not have been identifiable using traditional approaches. These approaches are useful for both biomedical research and precision medicine strategies.

About the speaker

Professor Gemma Figtree AM [MBBS; DPhil (Oxon); FRACP; FAHA] is a physician/scientist, and Professor in Medicine and Chair of the Cardiovascular Initiative at the University of Sydney, and an Interventional Cardiologist at Royal North Shore Hospital. With an international track record in diverse research areas, she focuses on preventing heart attacks by innovating silent coronary artery disease (CAD) detection and treatment. Gemma leads a team exploring mechanisms related to heart attack susceptibility and response, from bench research to clinical trials. Her lab’s discoveries are published in leading journals, with over 220 publications. Gemma holds grants exceeding $42 million, 1 awarded patent, and 5 provisional patents. She is the Chief Medical Officer for Prokardia and leads CAD Frontiers, a non-profit venture integrating clinicians, researchers, and industry for translational impact.

Gemma’s accolades include NHMRC Excellence Award, Ministerial Award for Cardiovascular Research Excellence, 2023 Member of the Order of Australia, and CSANZ RT Hall Prize. She serves on the editorial boards of Circulation and Cardiovascular Research and is an Associate Editor for Heart, Lung, and Circulation. As President of the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance, Gemma secured Federal commitment to the $220 million MRFF Mission for Cardiovascular Health, which she now Chairs. This mission fosters collaboration between researchers and policymakers. Gemma guides diagnostic strategy implementation as Chair of the Heart Foundation Heart Health Committee and advises NSW OHMR and NSW Health. She co-authored the Lancet Commission for Women and Cardiovascular Disease and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, serving as a non-executive Director on multiple community Boards.

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