Research

Leading Researchers

The research program brings together leading researchers, initially from across Australia, in this world first research program.

It is led by cardiologists, Associate Professor Andre La Gerche from Melbourne's Baker Institute and Professor Chris Semsarian, from Sydney University and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Andre La Gerche

Andre is head of Sports Cardiology and Cardiac MRI at the Baker Institute and a staff cardiologist at The Alfred and St Vincent’s Hospitals in Melbourne.

He is internationally recognized as an expert in exercise cardiac imaging, sports cardiology, arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

He has published landmark studies on the interaction between exercise and cardiac function.

His work on cardiovascular function during exercise has been hailed as the Gold Standard for assessment in the category.

Chris Semsarian

Chris is a cardiologist with a specific research focus in the genetic basis of cardiovascular disease.

A key focus of his research is the investigation and prevention of unexplained cardiac death in the young, particularly amongst children and young adults.

He has established a cardiac research program, which developed an interface between basic science, clinical research and public health.

Chris is recognized as a world leader in the field and has published over 180 peer-reviewed scientific articles in the world's highest-ranking specialist cardiovascular and general medical journals.

World-leading Research

Australia is uniquely placed to lead the world with this research.

We have an established network of cardiologists and pathologists that have demonstrated the ability to work collaboratively.

A recent, short-term, study using genetic testing was able to identify a cause of death in one third of victims.

That immediately provided victims' families with valuable information to direct preventative treatments to other family members who were at risk.

The National Registry will build on that earlier experience, which was limited in scope and scale through the lack of appropriate funding.

Funding Needs

Data collection will occur nation-wide, but the National Registry will be led by The Baker Institute in Melbourne and The Centenary Institute at the University of Sydney.

The National Registry will utilize two full-time Clinical Researchers, associated databases and bio-bank facilities, together with medical and scientific equipment and consumables.

It will bring together the resources of doctors, hospitals, coroners and pathologists all working together with a common set of protocols.

The data obtained from the Registry will gather the essential information required for further research.

As well as a public fund-raising program, we are seeking Government support to sustain the Registry and subsequent research activities into the future.

Initial funding is required to establish the program, and demonstrate that Government support is needed to deal successfully with the problem, which is significant, and remains unexplained.

The Baker Institute, one of the world's leading heart research organisations, will lead the first program to establish a National Registry of unexplained cardiac deaths in young people.

In a national collaborative effort, cardiologists and researchers Australia wide will support this major world-first research initiative.

This five-year program to investigate unexplained cardiac death will be a world first initiative in terms of scope, scale and thoroughness.

It will build a critical mass of evidence on which to build a very robust and on-going research program to assist cardiologists, researchers and educators help explain the unexplained.

Unexpected and Unexplained

Cases of cardiac death in people aged under 50 can be divided into three broad categories.

  • Only one in ten have a known heart problem.

    For these people, there is a need to better understand the risk factors for more effective intervention. In the remaining 9 out of ten, cardiac arrest is completely unexpected. Our proposed research aims to develop tests to diagnose problems earlier.

In 4 out of 10, the cause of death remains unexplained even after thorough investigations and autopsy. The aim of the research is to be able to explain the cause of all unexplained cardiac death cases. Only then can we devise strategies to prevent unexplained cardiac death in those at risk.

As a fundamental tenet of the Ross Dennerstein Foundation is the support of collaborative research, this information will be available to all researchers tackling unexplained cardiac death.

A two-tier research strategy is planned:

  1. To explain the unexplained. We aim to identify the causes, associations and mechanisms of unexplained cardiac death

  2. To prevent the unexpected. We aim to use the developed knowledge regarding causation of unexplained cardiac death to prevent premature deaths.

The Starting Point

A National Registry of victims' phenotypes and genotypes will be the backbone of high-impact research tackling unexplained cardiac death.

The National Registry will build a comprehensive and accurate database of cardiac death in younger victims across Australia.

It will collect data on the circumstances of death, family history and tissue samples from all people who die from sudden cardiac death.

From this mosaic, researchers expect that patterns will emerge to help explain the many unanswered questions.

The National Registry will enable a focus on people under age 50 who, in most cases, are fit and healthy with no apparent symptoms.

Currently there is no formal mechanism for the recording of this information, which is the fundamental starting point for finding explanations and developing preventative treatments.

A call to action!

We need to end the complacency. Unexplained cardiac death is a major cause of death in the young and middle aged, especially males.

To explain the unexplained and prevent the unexpected we ask you to:

  1. Join us in spreading the word

  2. Participate in our research

  3. Donate to the cause

With greater understanding comes our best opportunity to identify risk and intervene early. Help us to succeed.

Be part of the research

Help us explain the unexplained, by joining our supporters list below. You will be kept up to date with research, fundraising events and may be contacted to volunteer skills, support a promotion, or be a part of the study in the future.