£2.3m BHF Cymru research hosted by Swansea University Medical School

A British Heart Foundation Cymru funded research team led by Professor Alan Williams will be based at Swansea University Medical School from this month (Swansea University, 2017).‌

Swansea University Medical School will offer the opportunity for Alan Williams and his team to continue their unprecedented research in Wales with £2.3m of investment from BHF, after ten years at Cardiff University.

Alan Williams and his team study irregular heart rhythms, or arrhythmias that can be inherited, are associated with heart failure, and can be fatal. The cause of some abnormal heart rhythms remains a mystery and current medicines are not effective for all of these conditions.

The most common abnormal heart rhythm is atrial fibrillation. More than 65,000 people in Wales experience atrial fibrillation and they are among the top ten reasons why patients go to hospital. Many people in Wales are living with undiagnosed arrhythmias that come from an inherited heart condition that hasn’t been identified. Patients with arrhythmia may be at increased risk of stroke and certain types of arrhythmia can cause sudden cardiac death.

BHF funding enables the research team to carry out detailed investigations underpinning the molecular defects that can cause the heart’s rhythm to fall out of sync. With this knowledge, they can predict which medicines are likely to work best against these faults which will enable effective and personalised treatments for frightening and dangerous arrhythmias.

Alan Williams said “Being based at Swansea University will provide opportunity for excellent multi-disciplinary collaboration and enable us to secure input from researchers in physical sciences, computational scientists, mathematicians and engineers to help us build the bigger picture in our understanding of irregular heart rhythms whilst studying the origins of these conditions. We look forward to collaborating closely with colleagues at Swansea Medical School and the wider University faculty.”‌‌

Professor Keith Lloyd, Dean and Head of Swansea University Medical School said “I am very grateful to the BHF for their confidence in Swansea University Medical School as a home for BHF research in Wales. We share the BHF’s mission to win the fight against heart disease and we will help translate the team’s research into benefit for the people of Wales and beyond.”

Ruth Coombs, Head of BHF Cymru, said “We’re hugely proud of all the research we’re funding in Wales – it’s only possible because of the amazing generosity and devotion shown by our supporters and volunteers. We look forward to continuing to work with Alan and his team and to building closer relationships with Swansea University in our fight for every heartbeat. By investing in research in Wales today, we’re making tomorrow’s tests and treatments for heart conditions possible.”

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said “As a country with a high prevalence of cardiovascular disease, BHF Cymru is committed to supporting excellent cardiovascular research in Wales. With the pioneering work of BHF Professor Alan Williams and his team now based at Swansea, we will now have significant research investment at both Cardiff and Swansea Universities. We hope that the progress of this research, and the science we fund at both of these world-leading Universities, will improve and save lives across Wales and have an impact beyond. With the generous support we receive from the people of Wales for our mission, the BHF looks forward to continue to support world class cardiovascular research programmes and high calibre researchers in Welsh universities for years to come.”

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