Our research history

Thanks to the generous support of people like you, the Heart Foundation has been able to invest over $70 million into groundbreaking research projects and cardiology training since 1970.

Major breakthroughs like these below have saved lives and vastly improved the quality of life for Kiwis living with heart disease.

1970 - Our first research grant

1970 - Our first research grant

Dr John Neutze carries out ground-breaking research into heart disease among infants and children, as he leads the development of a world-class paediatric cardiology unit at Greenlane Hospital.

1970 - Pioneering coronary care

1970 - Pioneering coronary care

Dr Robin Norris receives our first overseas grant. He gains critical experience treating heart attacks at London’s Hammersmith Hospital, returning home to become a pioneer of coronary care in New Zealand.

1980 - Influencing New Zealand

1980 - Influencing New Zealand

Professor Robert Beaglehole’s 10-year study into the patterns, causes, and effects of heart disease and stroke forms a cornerstone of NZ’s population-wide approach to preventing cardiovascular disease.

1984 - Making waves internationally

1984 - Making waves internationally

Professor Norman Sharpe’s clinical research leads to major international trials which result in new medications for heart attack patients, now recommended in all international guidelines.

1987 - Changing diagnosis

1987 - Changing diagnosis

Professor Mark Richards leads research with Christchurch colleagues into what is now a routine blood test used globally to help diagnose and manage heart failure.

1991 - Learning new treatments

1991 - Learning new treatments

Cardiologist Chris Nunn trains in the US, where he gains experience opening up arteries during a heart attack with a balloon or stent. He returns to NZ and sets up the first 24/7 service offering this now-common treatment. 

1995 - Preventing rheumatic fever

1995 - Preventing rheumatic fever

Professor Diana Lennon’s trials of sore-throat treatment in schools leads to government-funded projects for the effective prevention of rheumatic fever in New Zealand. 

2000 - Revealing beta blocker research

2000 - Revealing beta blocker research

As the Heart Foundation’s Senior Fellow, Professor Rob Doughty’s collaborative research proves that beta blockers, previously thought to be harmful for patients with heart failure, are safe and effective. 

2004 - Understanding nutrition labels

2004 - Understanding nutrition labels

Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu’s research on consumer use and understanding of nutrition labels informs the development of new, simpler front-of-pack labels in NZ and other countries.

2005 - A game-changing procedure

2005 - A game-changing procedure

Through a training fellowship in Vancouver, Dr Sanjeevan Pasupati learns how to replace heart valves by a procedure through the groin, instead of through a major operation. He returns to NZ and sets up the first unit to offer this game-changing procedure in our public health system. 

2010 - Room for one more

2010 - Room for one more

With the support of generous donors, we raise $5 million to fund a new, permanent research position – our Chair of Heart Health –  at The University of Auckland. This position is currently held by Professor Rob Doughty.

2014 - Predicting heart disease

2014 - Predicting heart disease

Dr Anna Pilbrow aims to find ways of predicting heart disease according to our genetic profile. Early data suggest molecules in our blood may predict those of us who are most at risk of having a heart attack in the future. 

2016 - Looking out for patients

2016 - Looking out for patients

Professor Ralph Stewart leads a nationwide study to improve the way oxygen treatment is given to heart attack patients. His findings could affect the way heart attack patients are treated all over the world. 

2017 - Research into heart disease and depression

2017 - Research into heart disease and depression

Professor Bart Ellenbroek and his team are investigating the unknown link between heart disease, depression and anxiety. Their research will lay the foundation for new heart disease prevention.

2018 - Junk DNA could help diagnose heart disease

2018 - Junk DNA could help diagnose heart disease

Dr Sarah Appleby explores what was previously thought to be ‘junk DNA’ for a potential new biomarker to indicate the presence of heart disease.

We can’t stop now

Despite all we’ve achieved together, heart disease still kills more than one of our mums, dads, sons or daughters every 90 minutes in New Zealand. Many of those lives can be saved, but only if we keep funding research.

Through research, we can discover the causes of heart disease and find new ways to prevent, treat and even cure it. 

Stand with us in this vital investment in the health of us, our loved ones, and future generations.

Picture a future where…

Genetic markers enable us to predict if our children and grandchildren are at risk of heart disease, and prevent it.

Loved ones with damaged hearts can be fully healed thanks to new forms of stem cell therapy.

Babies born with congenital heart defects can be treated effectively without having to endure surgery.

This is our vision for New Zealand. It is a future that is possible – but only through research.

Please donate to be part of this life-saving work. 

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