This year’s events, entitled 'Powering Research', introduced our supporters to their local heart researchers to see the life saving science we fund up close. From real lab tours in our research centres to mini labs set up in inspiring locations across the UK, 2016 was the year we brought our science to life and showed our supporters how many people are alive today thanks to research we've funded. If you'd like to see our supporter conference presentation for 2016, please download our PDF.
Our first conference of 2016 was held in the beautiful Belfast City Hall, a fitting location for a day celebrating lifesaving Northern Ireland heart research and the achievements of our Heart Hero nominees.
Our researchers from Queen’s University decamped from their usual lab surroundings to the grand setting of The Great Hall to set up mini science labs showcasing their work. Our supporters visited each mini lab to hear about the work going on Northern Ireland.
Dr David Grieve showcased how his team are investigating how the heart responds to stresses which ultimately lead to heart failure. Dr Andriana Margariti and other scientists demonstrated how their work with stem cells is aiming to make discoveries that could lead to new treatments for heart failure and other diseases.
Attendees met with Professor Gerry Linden, who has been researching the same group of 2000 local men for over 15 years, looking for causes of heart disease, as well as Dr Denise McDonald whose research will improve our knowledge of how to control new blood vessel growth.
The BHF Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Centre at the University of Glasgow was the scientific setting for BHF Scotland’s Annual Supporter Conference. The auditorium at the Wolfson Medical School Building was packed as delegates heard about the latest world pioneering research taking place there from Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak and Professor Rhian Touyz.
Our supporters and fundraisers were invited to visit the MRI unit and the vascular lab and to meet young scientists on the BHF funded PhD programme. They learned about how MRI scanning of the heart is a powerful tool in research and the importance of up-to-the-minute laser techniques. And they were fascinated to hear about research into how the brain is affected by a particular hormone before, during and after stroke, which may help to identify new ways to treat and prevent stroke.
We held our Midlands conference in the fantastic Medical School of the University of Birmingham. Attendees had the opportunity to visit to the IBR labs, the Link Labs and the QE Hospital where some of our world-class research is taking place.
They also had the opportunity to engage with local researchers working with BHF Professor Steve Watson to study small cells in the bloodstream called platelets, which play a critical role in healthy healing processes by clumping together and forming a plug at the site of injury. However, platelets can also clump together to form blood clots in diseased blood vessels – often causing heart attack or stroke.
Many current clot-busting drugs, such as aspirin and plavix, target platelets and are not effective for everyone and can cause an increase in bleeding after injury. We’re funding the research to better understand the pathways that control platelet activity will help us develop improved clot-busting and clot-preventing medicines.
Our South of England conference was held at the BHF’s Centre for Research Excellence at Imperial College London. Attendees were able to visit laboratories where scientists (led by world-leading researcher Professor Michael Schneider) are investigating how to repair damaged hearts using stem cells.
This work aims to help repair the heart following a heart attack, which would benefit the majority of heart failure patients. One of the ways the centre is working on is growing new, beating heart muscle to graft on to damaged hearts, helping them beat more strongly again. And in another programme, they are looking at growing new heart muscle from dormant stem cells in the heart.
Supporter Conferences 2017
Would you like to join others in your local area at one of our supporter conference events in 2017?
Register your interest and we will be in touch with confirmed dates for next year’s events in the Autumn.
Register your interest for 2017