HeartKids grant for gene research into sudden death in children and babies

Childhood heart disease (CHD) is one of the leading causes of infant death in Australia. Every week more than four young Australians die from CHD. Investigating the role of potentially deadly genetic heart diseases play in these heart-breaking losses will receive a boost for one research team in Sydney.

The $29,000 HeartKids grant will be awarded this evening to Professor Chris Semsarian and young investigator Annie Evans from the Molecular Cardiology Research Program at Centenary Institute. These funds will support a project investigating faulty genes that may be responsible for sudden death in babies and young children, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Professor Semsarian, who is also Chair of the Registry Advisory Committee, said: “Annie is investigating key genes that may be responsible for electrical disturbances in the hearts of babies and young children.

“Our early research is showing promise but we still have a long way to go. This funding from HeartKids Australia will go a long way in helping us continue our work. We hope our research will eventually help prevent heart-breaking deaths in our youngest Australians.”

This grant is one of six awarded as part of the $240,500 research Grants-in-Aid program introduced this year by HeartKids Australia. The program is supported by Wilson HTM Foundation (founding partner), Kiwanis Australia and the Heart Foundation.

The grant for the Centenary Institute team is the only one awarded to a genetic research project and one of just two awards to be given to researchers in NSW.

Brian Pereira, Chairman of HeartKids Australia, reaffirmed the importance of research into childhood heart disease as it is the leading cause of death of children under the age of one and affects the lives of so many children.

“The money we raised throughout the year has been awarded to outstanding researchers from around Australia in a very competitive process.

“We hope these grants will give us a better understanding of this devastating disease and that this will lead to improved diagnosis, better treatments and increased quality of life for those affected.”

For more information or to view photos from the Awards event, visit www.heartkids.org.au