Led by Professor Stephen Nicholls, Monash University’s Victorian Heart Institute brings together research, teaching and clinical community to create the cardiovascular health solutions of the future.
The Monash Victorian Heart Institute is located on Level 2 of the Victorian Heart Hospital.
The future of cardiac research does not lie in asking a question, finding the answer, and publishing a paper, says Monash Heart Director Professor Stephen Nicholls.
“The way that we think about research is undergoing a major change,” he said. “Research is ultimately about finding new ways to treat our patients better. It’s about impact and inviting the community to participate in research because the research isn’t about us – it is fundamentally about our community.”
Monash Health’s leadership in cardiac research is cemented with the opening of the Victorian Heart Hospital, the first heart hospital in Australia.
The very nature of research is a ‘team sport’, according to Interventional Cardiologist Dr Adam Nelson. “The opportunity to work with nursing teams, clinical trial coordinators, and our patients – who are the real partners in our research – is one of the things that gets me up in the morning.
“Seeing our work taken from inception through to translation and into treating patients in the ward and clinical practice is very rewarding.”
A new biobank will hold patient blood samples and clinical information, enabling bench-based researchers to discover new causes of heart disease and to match their findings with the clinical features of patients.
Professor Nicholls said research activities extend across core clinical services. “The primary objective of this research is to translate early discoveries through to clinical impact.”
“There is great potential in discovering new knowledge, identifying how we make new therapies, and then getting them to patients where they can make a difference.”
HUYGENS is a multinational clinical trial that evaluated the impact of a novel cholesterol-lowering approach on plaques building up within the walls of blood vessels in patients following heart attacks. Professor Nicholls said the new therapy showed cholesterol could be reduced to an unprecedented extent, while also stabilising plaque.
“If you’ve had a heart attack, you are twice as likely to die prematurely compared to the general population,” he said. “Our findings showed that plaque reduction and stabilisation were doubled for high-risk patients who had already experienced a heart attack, making it effective for those who need it most.”
SOCRATES is a multidisciplinary, multisite study on cancer patients at risk of heart disease. The study will test the impact of statins on growth of plaques in blood vessels in patients with melanoma treated with immunotherapy.
“Given that more patients with cancer have better clinical outcomes, the importance of preventing other medical problems, such as heart disease, is becoming increasingly important,” Professor Nicholls said. “This study has important implications to develop new treatments for patients with cancer.”
The Monash Heart team is also investigating mammograms as a tool to screen not just for breast cancer, but also the risk of heart disease. Researchers are using a range of techniques to find and quantify arterial calcification.
Research is a vital component of the Victorian Heart Hospital and create new and expanded opportunities for medical research, accelerating the transition of discoveries into timely and meaningful outcomes.
Watch the video to learn how the team’s commitment to discovery, collaboration and providing the best outcomes for our patients is informing the future of cardiac care.