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24 May 2024

London heart research receives £12 million funding boost from British Heart Foundation

Funding will support world-leading research at three London universities

A heart with the words British Heart Foundation

The British Heart Foundation has awarded £12 million to support world-leading cardiovascular disease research at three London universities, the charity has announced today.

Imperial College London, King’s College London and University College London will each receive between £3 million and £5 million over the next five years through the BHF’s highly competitive Research Excellence Awards funding scheme.

The awards are part of a much needed £35 million boost to UK cardiovascular disease research from the British Heart Foundation. The funding will support the universities to cultivate world-class research environments that encourage collaboration, inclusion and innovation, and where visionary scientists can drive lifesaving breakthroughs.

At Imperial College London, the award will support cutting-edge research examining not only heart but also blood vessel diseases and the potential of wearable sensors such as smartwatches to contribute to the creation of ‘digital twins’ – sophisticated models reflecting an individual’s cardiovascular function. With the potential to predict disease onset and progression, this technology could enable early intervention strategies to prevent or reduce the severity of cardiovascular disease.

The award to King's College London will support research to improve understanding of the management and treatment of heart failure. It is estimated that over one million people in the UK have heart failure, and over 30% of people admitted to hospital with heart failure die after a year. The funding will bring together an interdisciplinary team to tackle major research challenges in heart failure – including developing new treatments and improving personalisation of therapy – ensuring that findings are applicable to the diverse population of people with heart failure.

Embedded in core areas of interdisciplinary academic strength, research supported by the award to University College London will span several key themes, including therapeutic innovation in rare and inherited cardiovascular disease, as well as ethnicity and cardiometabolic health. The research aims to transform lives by delivering early phase clinical trials in rare diseases and cardiac arrhythmia, a simulation lab and robotics programme, and models of social, economic and genetic determinants of ethnic differences in cardiovascular health.

We’re delighted to continue to support research at these three outstanding institutions to address the biggest challenges in cardiovascular disease. This funding recognises the incredible work happening in London and will help to cement its status as a leading destination for cardiovascular disease research. With generous donations from our supporters, this funding will power cutting-edge science and unlock lifesaving discoveries that can turn the tide on the devastation caused by heart and circulatory diseases.

Professor Bryan Williams, Chief Scientific and Medical Officer at the British Heart Foundation

Research Excellence Awards offer researchers greater flexibility than traditional research funding, allowing scientists to quickly launch ambitious projects that can act as a springboard for larger, transformative funding applications.

First launched in 2008, together the three universities have received nearly £38 million through the BHF’s Research Excellence Awards funding scheme to date. This funding has supported research that will lay the foundations for future breakthroughs.

We are delighted to be the recipients of another BHF Research Excellence Award. Our focus is on patients with heart failure, a condition where outcomes remain poor despite many advances in treatments. We still do not understand major aspects such as why heart failure is much more likely to develop in older people or how it varies in different patient groups, information that is essential in helping us develop more effective personalised treatments. This award allows our excellent cardiovascular clinicians and researchers to work with world-class scientists from other disciplines – such as mathematics, artificial intelligence and physics – and partners from industry to make major inroads into the problem of this life-threatening condition. Our innovative interdisciplinary strategy will lead to important advances, bringing benefits to the lives of people with heart failure.

Professor Ajay Shah, BHF Professor of Cardiology at King’s College London

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Ajay Shah

Executive Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine