£700,000 funding for heart research in Sheffield

Cutting edge: Surgeons at the Northern General Hospital's cardiothoracic centre.
Cutting edge: Surgeons at the Northern General Hospital's cardiothoracic centre.
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Heart scientists in Sheffield have been awarded grants of nearly £700,000 for research projects which could help millions of patients.

The British Heart Foundation grants have been given to three projects running at Sheffield University.

Consultant cardiologist Dr Timothy Chico, who runs a laboratory at the university and also treats patients at the Northern General Hospital, was awarded £250,000 for research into genetic heart defects in tiny babies.

Dr Allan Lawrie’s team received £280,000 for a project researching new ways of monitoring patients with pulmonary hypertension – a rare condition caused by narrowing of the arteries of the lungs.

And a team led by Prof Eva Qwarnstrom received £158,000 to investigate how to stop plaque building in arteries, a cause of heart attacks.

Dr Chico said: “Unfortunately quite a lot of children are born with abnormalities of the heart. Although we know genetics is playing a role, we don’t understand the detail of what is causing it.

“We have started using zebra fish, which are really useful to switch off genes we think might be involved.

“We have already found one gene which is important. We have discovered if we reduce its function the aorta does not form properly.

“This grant is to see how this gene has an effect. If we understand the process, which we don’t yet, it gives an insight in to how we can change how it works.”

Dr Chico said the grant will fund two researchers, as well as equipment, microscopes and fish.

Prof Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: “We are very pleased to be announcing a number of research awards.

Thanks to all who are helping us through volunteering, donations or fundraising. We couldn’t fund leading scientists – like these teams at the University of Sheffield – without you.”