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CERA researcher recognised with Lifetime Research Award

Prof Dusting (centre) pictured with his son Julian (left) and Heart Foundation Chair Dr Jennifer Johns (right).

Prof Dusting (centre) pictured with his son Julian (left) and Heart Foundation Chair Dr Jennifer Johns (right).

Professor Greg Dusting was awarded a Heart Foundation Research Medal for Lifetime Contribution to Cardiovascular Research on 30 May 2016, in recognition of decades of research into cardiovascular pharmacology.

Prof Dusting spent his early career studying the lining of arteries and heart drugs that affect it, and received his first Heart Foundation grant over 40 years ago. The grant supported a fellowship at the pharmaceutical company Wellcome in the UK, where Prof Dusting and his collaborators discovered a new, naturally occurring compound they called ‘prostacyclin’ which inhibited blood clotting.

This discovery led to a Nobel Prize for his mentor – Sir John Vane – and the development of new drugs for the clinical management of pulmonary hypertension, commonly used in patients waiting for a heart-lung transplant.

Over the subsequent decades, Prof Dusting received significant financial support for his research from the Heart Foundation and he was also appointed the first Senior Research Fellow of the Foundation. This support was critical to Prof Dusting’s research success as it allowed him to pursue more adventurous, innovative research. ”How do you move forward without trying new things? The Heart Foundation really made a difference to fill a gap in cardiovascular research funding and enabled a lot of young researchers like me get started,” said Prof Dusting.

In 2012, Prof Dusting moved his research team to the Centre for Eye Research Australia. “Many people wonder what the heart and eyes have in common, but the answer is a lot!” said Prof Dusting. “A lot of eye problems are caused by blood vessels at the back of the eye, in the retina,” he explained. “My team looks at the signalling in blood vessels, which is important because this is what goes wrong with diseases like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Both of these diseases can lead to leaky vessels and are a major cause of blindness.”