Gemma Figtree is a Professor in Medicine at the University of Sydney. She co-leads the Cardiovascular Theme for Sydney Health Partners, a NHMRC Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre and is the Chair of the University of Sydney’s multi-disciplinary Cardiovascular Initiative. Gemma completed her DPhil at Oxford University in 2002 supported by a Rhodes Scholarship making fundamental discoveries regarding estrogen’s actions and factors regulating NO/redox balance in the cardiovascular system. She is committed to improving the care for heart attack patients- using her knowledge of molecular and cellular biology to develop methods of identifying those at highest risk of adverse outcome, and discovering novel therapies to prevent and treat events, inspired by her clinical work as an interventional cardiologist. She has dedicated herself throughout her career to unravelling key mechanisms underlying susceptibility and response to heart attack, with studies extending from the bench to large cohort studies and clinical trials. Discoveries in her Laboratory have been published in leading journals Circulation, JACC and European Heart Journal, with > 140 publications. GF is a principal investigator on grants >$8 mill. Having recently completed a co-funded NHMRC CDF and Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship, she was awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Excellence Award for Top Ranked Practitioner Fellow (Australia), commencing in 2018. In 2019 she received the prestigious NSW Ministerial Award for Cardiovascular Research Excellence. Gemma is committed to the advancement of her field and serves as a member of the Editorial Board of leading international cardiovascular journals Circulation and Cardiovascular Research, as well as being a founding editorial board member for Redox Biology, and an Associate Editor for Heart, Lung and Circulation. Her research and clinical perspective and leadership are recognised by her membership of the Scientific Board of Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (responsible for International Relations), and her appointment to the Expert Advisory Panel for NHMRC Structural Review of Grants Program (2016-17), and as well as the Clinical Committee of the Heart Foundation. She is committed to the promotion and advocacy of cardiovascular research, working as President of the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance with a national team to secure $220 Million Federal funding for the Mission for Cardiovascular Health, as well as a member of the NSW CVD Advisory Committee. She now chairs the Mission (CV) Expert Advisory Panel. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and serves/has served as a non-executive Director on multiple community Boards.
Cardiovascular remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality across the globe. Whilst we continue to wrestle with the pragmatic challenges of applying evidence-based prevention and treatment strategies to those most at need at a community level, there is an urgent need to improve the precision targeting of these strategies. There are tremendous opportunities with improved phenotyping of patients currently batched together in syndromic “buckets”. Use of advanced imaging and molecular markers may allow stratification of patients in a manner more aligned to biological mechanisms that can, in turn be targeted by specific approaches developed using high throughput molecular technologies. Unbiased “omic” approaches enhance the possibility of discovering completely new mechanisms in such groups. Drugs in development may be more efficiently translated and targeted by integrating clinical presenting features with advanced molecular imaging and molecular profiling. Existing and future technology will be discussed, as well as the hurdles and next steps.