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Dr Chris Stanley, Microvascular Research Unit leader at the Heart Research Institute (HRI), has been awarded a 2022 Ramaciotti Health Investment Grant for his research that aims to explore the treatment of hypertension.

As the top-ranking NSW application for this prestigious Grant, Dr Stanley received The Derek Hart Memorial Award. This award honours the late Derek Hart’s contributions to medical research and his long association with the Ramaciotti Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

“The generosity and vision of philanthropists such as Clive and Vera Ramaciotti has a significant impact in ensuring critical medical research to find new cures and treatments for the diseases of our time, such as hypertension, can continue,” says Prof Andrew Coats AO, Interim Scientific Director at HRI.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is the world’s leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, disability and premature death.

High blood pres­sure affects one in five New Zealanders.

The risks associated with hypertension can be dramatically decreased by effective management of the condition, but current medication regimens are either complex or associated with dangerous adverse effects and increased demands on the healthcare system.

The Microvascular Research Unit’s project “Trp-ing the system: increasing tryptophan metabolism to treat hypertension” addresses this critical need for a new therapeutic approach to treating hypertension.

In hypertension, small diameter arteries lose their ability to dilate, thus increasing resistance to flow and blood pressure (BP). The Unit recently discovered a pathway capable of lowering BP through widening these small diameter arteries. Building on this discovery, together with exciting new data, their project will investigate whether the ability of small diameter arteries to dilate and lower BP can be reinstated by increasing arterial breakdown of the dietary amino acid tryptophan.

This unique con­cept could change our under­stand­ing of how arter­ies func­tion in hyper­ten­sion,” says Dr Stanley.

“I am extremely grateful to Ramaciotti Foundations for supporting this work. With the advancements in research now made possible, we could revolutionise the therapeutic treatment of hypertension and protect thousands of people from its associated risks.”

For over 50 years, the Ramaciotti Foundations have been expanding and supporting life-enhancing biomedical research. The Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants are awarded to individuals in universities, public hospitals or institutes for a contribution towards the undertaking of health or medical research with the potential path to clinical application within five years.


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