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Heart Foundation researcher wins international award

A Heart Foundation-funded researcher from the University of Auckland has won the Best Presentation in the Young Research Forum Award at an international conference in Amsterdam.

Toam Pham in city

Toan Pham’s three-year postgraduate scholarship from the Heart Foundation enabled him to study the life-threatening condition, right ventricular failure (RVF) of the heart.

His ground-breaking findings have provided new, detailed knowledge of energy fluxes in right-sided heart failure, an essential step towards new medication that specifically targets this condition.

Toan Pham receives awardPatients with right-sided heart failure are treated with medication for left-sided heart failure, but it is not very effective. Toan’s research suggests why this may be.

“We found that the failing tissue in the right ventricle, but not the left, had reduced energy efficiency which is an important clinical problem. The cause of the inefficiency was unknown prior to our investigation, so it wasn’t possible to target ventricular function specifically,” explains Toan.

“Our research provides detailed knowledge of energy fluxes in right heart failure, as an essential step for future direction of treatment.”

In addition to problems such as swollen ankles due to fluid retention, right heart failure frequently results in high blood pressure in the right ventricle and arteries that supply blood to the lung: pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). This can also cause shortness of breath and fatigue with minimal activity. PAH has a mortality rate of 40% within three years of diagnosis.

Toan received his award at the cardiology conference in Amsterdam in late 2017, from two international judges who commented that this was ‘very unique and outstanding research’ and they would be ‘happy to collaborate with his research group in future projects’. 

“I am grateful to the Heart Foundation for awarding me a PhD Scholarship, thereby allowing me to undertake this research,” says Toan.

“We have published more than six peer‑reviewed journals and are currently preparing for two more manuscripts arising from this project. I have just completed my oral PhD exam, so I will be eligible to graduate in September. I will soon be applying for fellowship grants to continue my research career.”

Toan’s research specialty is cardiac energetic physiology in health and diseases at the multi‑scale: tissue and subcellular mitochondrial levels.

The conference Toan presented at was the 2nd International Conference on Hypertension & Healthcare and the 2nd International Conference on Non‑invasive Cardiac Imaging, Nuclear Cardiology & Echocardiography. Held September 11-13, 2017, in Amsterdam.

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