Adelaide's Queens of Hearts - the five female medical heart disease researchers

01 May 2018
Adelaide's Queens of Hearts - the five female medical heart disease researchers

Meet Adelaide’s own Queens of Hearts — five passionate researchers unlocking the secrets to heart disease.

As well as paving the way to improved heart health, the women are inspiring role models for school-leavers considering a career in medical science.

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute is promoting the work on the Science Channel as part of Heart Week this week.

Four of the women are affiliated with the University of Adelaide while Katharine McBride is affiliated with UniSA. This special group of researchers are opening doors to saving lives.

Dr Achini Vidanapathirana is from the Centre of Nanoscale Biophotonics. Her research in molecular medicine and imaging at a nanoscale level is working towards better non-invasive techniques for early detection of heart disease.

“Using light to measure and analyse concentrations of nitric oxide inside blood vessels, the project aims to identify particular properties that can be implemented in new biosensors for disease detection,” she said.

Katharine McBride, PhD candidate and SAHMRI researcher. Katharine believes there is a critical need to understand the clinical, psychological and social factors that protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from developing heart disease and stroke.

“The research is developing a picture which incorporates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s knowledge, evidence from health services and understanding of the impact of risk factors”

Dr Christina Bursill, from the Plaque Biology and New Blood Vessel area.

Dr Bursill is looking into the effects of HDL, or ‘good cholesterol’, on preventing vascular inflammation and the development of heart disease. “Atherosclerosis, a common disease in which plaque build-up obstructs normal arterial flow, continues to be a leading cause of coronary heart disease, the leading killer,” she said.

Jordan Andrews, Imaging Research Manager and PhD candidate. Her work at SAHMRI has multiple treatment applications for the sleep disorder. “Using the imaging pod and computer tomography to analyse sleep apnoea at various levels, from the molecular stage up to human trials, the non-invasive research may give a better understanding of how low-blood oxygen counts during the night of broken sleep can lead to hypertension and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Peta King, researcher in Lifelong Health and a PhD candidate. For post-menopausal women, the risk of cardiovascular disease doubles as protective oestrogen levels decrease.

She notes women suffering a heart attack may experience nausea, fatigue or back/jaw pain, rather than the stereotype of a man clutching his chest.

This story was reproduced with permission from The Advertiser. Picture: Tait Schmaal.