The future of our fight for every heartbeat

19 October 2015        

A portrait of Professor Peter Weissberg, the BHF Medical Director. This week we launch our new Research Strategy. It outlines our ambitious plans to fund over half a billion pounds of science over the next five years. Our former medical director, Professor Peter Weissberg, talks about how the Research Strategy will enable us to continue to be at the forefront of cardiovascular research. 

The scientists who founded the BHF in 1961 could hardly have predicted that we would become one of the world’s largest independent funders of cardiovascular research and have such a spectacular impact on preventing and treating heart and circulatory disease. At the time, we didn’t know how to prevent or treat the heart attacks and strokes that struck down millions in the prime of their lives, and few babies born with congenital heart defects survived to see their first birthday.

Over 50 years of progress

Since 1961 death rates in the UK from heart and circulatory disease have more than halved and most babies with congenital heart disease now survive to adulthood. Much of this success can be directly attributed to breakthroughs we funded, which is why research remains at the heart of our organisational strategy.

But coronary heart disease is still the single largest cause of death in the UK, quality of life is diminished for the millions living with life changing heart and circulatory diseases and each day seemingly healthy young people die unexpectedly from a heart rhythm disorder. Only when we fully understand the complex reasons behind the wide variety of heart and circulatory diseases will we be able to neutralise their threat. 

Research is the only answer

Our Research Strategy reaffirms our commitment to funding the best and brightest scientists, researching all types of heart and circulatory disease. We will continue to fund research that ranges from the laboratory to the clinic. We will build on our current strengths, such as our Centres of Research Excellence, and stimulate research in areas that we know are in need of particular support, such as congenital heart disease and heart surgery

We will help increase the opportunities for lab discoveries to turn into new treatments for patients through expansion of our Translational Award scheme and by working more closely with industry.

We will develop new ways to support international collaborations between scientists with complementary skills and health care professionals, like nurses, undertaking research in our hospitals to improve the care of their patients. 

With guidance from patients and their doctors, we will increase our support for clinical trials with the potential to have an early impact on patient care. 

We also know that we need to do our part to help stem the loss of female talent from the scientific workforce, so flexibility will be a hallmark of all our funding streams.

Powered by the public

We are totally reliant on the generosity of people who donate time and money to our cause. Every one of them should feel proud of the progress we’ve made and of their contribution towards it. 

But this new research strategy means we need to raise more than half a billion pounds between now and 2020. This will be a challenge, but one we will meet head on in our fight for every heartbeat.

Please donate to help us to continue to improve and save lives through world-leading research.