High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia



HBPRCA Email Newsletter

June 2008



Welcome to the mid year e-news. Many of you will be travelling to Berlin next week for the ISH meeting, which promised to be a great venue and meeting. In view of the interest in Germany that this event brings, Markus Schlaich has written a wonderful feature article on cardiovascular research in Germany, which I am sure you will find of great interest. Thanks Markus!


The final conference program for Hypertension 2008 is now available online and for download at www.hypertension2008.com.  


ISH 2008 – Australian Dinner

The Eiffel Restaurant has been booked for Tuesday 17 June 2008 at 7.30pm.

Cost to attend is AUD 85 per person and includes a three-course meal and drinks. Partners are welcome.

If you would like to attend, you can register by contacting meetings first by Tuesday 10 June 2008.

Late bookings will not be accepted.


From our own meeting last year we are pleased to announce that the abstracts (only those authors who agreed to have them published) will appear in the July issue of Hypertension (Volume 52, Number 1, July 2008).


December this year will be quite busy with

Fred Mendelsohn's Festschrift on the 1st and 2nd December

HBPRCA Workshop on the 3rd December

HBPRCA Annual Scientific Meeting on the 4th and 5th December

the 2nd Cardiovascular Control Conference in India on the 9th and 12th December 2008

(Details for each of these are below)


See you in Berlin.


Associate Professor Geoffrey A Head



PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE from Stephen Harrap

This email comes in advance of the Berlin ISH/ESH meeting at which there will be a very healthy presence indeed. The Berlin meeting has received just over 2500 abstracts (close to Melbourne ISH 1994) and has about 7000 people pre-registered at this stage. The numbers might reach 10,000.

As a barometer of Aussie involvement is the award of 13 Young Investigator Travel Awards each of $2500 by the Foundation for High Blood Pressure Research. Congratulations to the 13 winners who will be making both oral and poster presentations, including one in the “late breaking abstract” section.

We have also had a great response to our Aussie dinner in Berlin on the Tuesday night at the Eiffel restaurant. If you know of any other Australians in town that evening let them know, as they might like to join us. Please note that bookings will not be accepted after 10 June 2008.

It is also a good time to mention again the recent announcement of Research Fellows of the ISH – a category open to research higher degree (eg. PhD) students. Joining in this category is free and brings all the usual benefits of ISH membership (eg. reduced meeting registrations, etc) except for receiving the Journal of Hypertension.

Although not of the same magnitude as the ISH/ESH meeting, but just as important, our own 30th Anniversary Meeting is taking shape rapidly and you can read more about this elsewhere in e-News. Can I remind everyone of our special projects including the family tree of blood pressure research and the photograph and travel story contributions? We’ll be sending round some further reminders in the next month or so, but if you have a quiet moment to put fingers to keyboard or search through the image files, send us your work. It will become part of history!



MEETING NEWS from Kate Denton

I hope to see many of you at the up coming Berlin ISH meeting and certainly at the ISH Australian Dinner. It is coming up too fast!


Plans are well underway for the 2008 HBPRCA Annual Scientific Meeting to be held in Melbourne 3-5 December this year, at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.  This year is our 30th birthday celebration. Take a look below at the special events planed for our celebration!  Get your details in for both the HBPRCA family tree and student introduction, and get your entries in for the competitions.  For example – Which fellow member was foolish enough to accept accommodation from a tout and end up locked and barred in an office with no windows overnight?


As previously announced the special lecturer’s are:

RD Wright Lecturer – Professor Carlos Ferrario (MD FAHA, FASA, FACC) from Wakefield University in the USA.  His research spans basic and clinical investigations, focusing on hypertensive vascular disease with a particular interest in the vascular actions of angiotensin peptides and the recently discovered ACE2. 

Austin Doyle lecturer is expatriate, Associate Professor David Sinclair, Harvard Medical School. David did his PhD with Prof Dawes in Sydney. His research focuses on ways to prevent and treat the major diseases of society by manipulating genes that control how fast we age.

Colin Johnston lecturer is Assoc Prof Bruce Neal, has been at the forefront of moving away from basing treatment decisions purely on the level of blood pressure per se to basing them on total cardiovascular risk.  This has extended the indications for treatment to include blood pressure lowering in individuals with high cardiovascular risk, but with blood pressure in the “normal range”.


The program for the Human and Animal Devices Workshop Clinical and Basic Research to be held on the Wednesday is in progress- preliminary plans are outline below.


I hope to see many of you at the up coming Berlin ISH meeting and certainly at the ISH Australian Dinner. Finally, keep a look out for the call for Abstracts!



WORKSHOP NEWS from Markus Schlaich, Kate Denton, Arduino Mangoni and Geoff Head


Human and Animal Devices Workshop: Clinical and Basic Research

The preparations for the human and animal devices workshop to be held as a full day workshop on December 3, 2008 are well under way.


The morning sessions will focus on human devices and we are planning to cover various aspects related to blood pressure measurement and assessment of cardiovascular function both in a research and a more clinical environment. Devices we plan to cover include the EndoPat System, a novel device to non-invasively assess “endothelial function” and augmentation index, the BaroCor System to assess baroreflex sensitivity, the Finometer Pro, a device to measure beat-to-beat blood pressure and others. The principal idea is to give workshop participants an unbiased view of the pro’s and con’s of each device and their performance in a research and clinical setting.


The afternoon sessions will focus on animal research with particular attention to the use and application of telemetry devices. These sessions will be sponsored by data Sciences International.


We would be very interested to hear from potential workshop participants whether they would like to have other devices covered in the workshop. Please forward your ideas to: the secretariat, hbprca@meetingsfirst.com.au.





Student introductions

Getting to know and encouraging the next generation of leaders in BP research is a major goal of the Council. Therefore, we thought that it would be a good idea to “introduce” our students at this year’s annual dinner. We would like to do this in the form of a power point presentation that will loop for most of the night. We are requesting that students provide the secretariat with their photo and some salient points about themselves (no more than 50 words). This will help put names and interests to student faces and facilitate convivial conversations.


Our Family Tree

 We’d like to take the opportunity of the 30th Anniversary to try and construct a “Family Tree” of blood pressure research in Australia. To do so we’d like all our members to indicate the person who had the greatest direct influence in shaping your career in blood pressure research. You might have more than one perhaps (perhaps one scientific and one clinical) but please limit your nominations to 2 maximum. Even if you trained overseas let us know your names as we might find branches of the “family” extend around the world.




We would like to open the following four competitions – 2 written and 2 photographic:

Best research meeting destination story – One of the joys of research is travel and discovering sites and places that amaze and enthrall. What has been your best meeting destination and why was it so special?

Best travel nightmare story – On the other hand one of the horrors of research can be travel! Sometimes getting there and back is enough to make you cry. Tell us when you wished you’d never left home for a BP meeting and share the gory details.

Best photograph taken by a member – Some members are well known for their photographic prowess, but we suspect that there are some other excellent photographers amongst us. Have you a photograph that makes you proud? Then we’d love to see it. You might even win a prize. The picture can be anything, even some beautiful images generated by your research or a picture of your pet!

Best photograph of a member – In this category, photographs are restricted to images of members (present and past).


Please be sure to get permission from the member before submitting, as we will be following this up!




MEMBERSHIP NEWS from Doug McKitrick

Membership information for 2008 will be finalised shortly and it is clear that membership in the HBPRCA has continued to grow, and it is a great time to be part of a vibrant, changing and growing scientific society. The helpful reminders for those of you who haven’t renewed your subscription will soon cease. Of course your ability to renew will not cease and may still be done by mail, fax or internet. If you have internet access go to the HBPRCA website and follow the link for access to the secure payment site, or to download a form for return by fax or post. If you don’t have internet access, can’t remember if you have paid, or just need a bit of help, contact the Secretariat by phone, fax or post (details below). Remember to encourage the participation of your graduate students, and provide them with the career-building opportunity to take advantage of free HBPRCA membership.



JUNE FEATURE ARTICLE BY MARKUS SCHLAICH Clinical Cardiovascular Research in Germany

With the upcoming joint meeting of the European and International Societies of Hypertension (ESH/ISH) in Berlin, Germany from June 14-19, 2008, we thought it may be a good idea to a provide a brief overview of the “hypertension scene” in Germany and highlight some of the country’s most respected cardiovascular research centres and their work. You may find some interesting aspects relevant to your own work and we would be thrilled if this brief article could help to facilitate collaborations between Australian and German Researchers.


The “Deutsche Hochdruckliga (DHL)”

The “Deutsche Hochdruckliga” could be considered as the German counterpart of the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia. The German Hypertension League – German Hypertension Society has been founded in 1974 as a scientific medical society by the renowned pharmacologist Franz Gross. The society nowadays has to meet the needs of scientists, clinicians as well as hypertensive patients by having memberships for professionals, patients and a board of trustees. Currently, the society represents a total of 6.000 physicians/scientists and 3.100 patients.


Professor Joachim Hoyer from University of Marburg is currently the president of the DHL.


The aim of the society is to improve the medical care given to some 30 million hypertensive patients in Germany. Several sections and committees are devoted to this goal. National treatment guidelines are updated regularly in close cooperation with international societies such as the ISH and ESH. Treatment recommendations for practicing doctors are published in the 20th edition.

The German Hypertension League itself has established a distinct system of scientific funding for hypertension research. An endowed professorship ensures that research on hypertension is established at the university level. Scholarships enable five junior researchers to continue their work in hypertension research. Furthermore, several awards are given each year to successful scientists engaged in hypertension research.

A recently established hypertension academy is organizing advanced training courses. This has helped to qualify some 3.100 hypertension specialists who are distributed nationwide. In addition, doctor’s assistants, medical technical assistants and nurses are offered further education to improve their ability to support the doctor in the care of hypertensive patients.

Fifty two regional commissioners help to promote, endorse and organise activities involved with continued medical education to practicing doctors, self help groups and the general public.

Some 55 lay-groups for hypertensive patients serve as multipliers of messages to hypertensive patients. Patient members have a representative among the board of directors to consider their needs. An advisory committee helps to organize the work of lay-groups by providing courses on topics relevant to the group work.

The work of the society has
also a dimension in health politics. The Institute for Quality and Cost Effectiveness in Health Care (IQWiG) has been commissioned to render an expert opinion on antihypertensive drugs. In the discussion with this agency, the German Hypertension Society is obliged to represent the interests of the hypertensive patients to receive an optimal medical treatment for high blood pressure.


Prominent Cardiovascular Research Centres in Germany (selection)



Not only is Berlin again the capital of the country, it has also developed into Germany’s capital city with regards to cardiovascular research and hosts two renowned centres of cardiovascular research:


1. The Center for Cardiovascular Research Berlin (CCR) was founded in 2003 by the Charité - University Medicine Berlin and is a research centre that arose from a joint venture of the Departments of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Cardiology, Nephrology and Clinical Hypertension Research of the Charité. It is well embedded in the scientific landscape of the Charité with close connections between clinical and basic science departments. The interdisciplinary CCR is something quite new in German research for cardiovascular diseases. This fresh impetus in research has not only advanced university science, it has also opened up new avenues of cooperation between the university, the Max-Planck society and the pharmaceutical industry.

The aim of the centre is to further enhance the understanding of the pathophysiology of hypertension and related cardiovascular disease and to explore novel approaches for the treatment of hypertension and other conditions closely linked to hypertension such as obesity, heart failure and stroke.


The CCR, which started its work in October 2003 with a festive scientific symposium is part of Berlins cross-campus network for research into circulatory disorders at the Charité. More than 100 scientists, PhD students and associates in twelve independent groups from different research areas i.e. pharmacology, cardiology/vascular medicine, nephrology, clinical hypertension research and molecular genetics have meanwhile moved into the centre and collaborate closely on scientific themes relating to the cardiovascular system. They are joined together by many ties in terms of contents and structure including joint research projects subsidised by the DFG (German Society for the Advancement of Scientific Research), the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research), the European Union and other external funding providers in Germany and abroad. The scientific emphasis is on themes such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes mellitus, stroke, cardiomyopathies, gender research and molecular genetics of cardiovascular disorders.

The Centre is headed by Professor Thomas Unger. In recognition of his work, Professor Unger has received the German Hypertension Society's Franz Gross Award for Hypertension Research; the Meilahti Lecture Award of the Medical Faculty, University of Helsinki, Finland; the Björn Folkow Award of the European Society of Hypertension; and the Robert Tigerstedt Award of the Finnish Hypertension Society. He is a member of the German Societies of Pharmacology, Cardiology and Hypertension (Council Member 1995–2001), the International Society of Hypertension, the European Society of Hypertension (Council Member 1989–1997), the European Council for Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Research (President, 2000–2002) and the Inter-American Society of Hypertension. He is also a Fellow of the American Heart Association and was Chairman of the Angiotensin Gordon Research Conference in 1999. Professor Unger has authored more than 600 scientific publications.


2. Located in the northeast corner of Berlin, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, which combines basic research in molecular biology and genetics with clinical research so that the latest medical discoveries can be brought to the bedside as quickly as possible. For this reason the scientists of the MDC collaborate closely with clinicians of a clinic in its vicinity, which is part of the Charité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin/Helios Klinikum Berlin - namely, the Franz Volhard Clinic for Cardiovascular Diseases (FVK) in Berlin-Buch. The links between the MDC and these Berlin-Buch clinics are many and varied: Clinicians head research groups at the MDC, MDC researchers and clinicians pursue mutual research projects and the MDC supports research in the clinics in many ways including offering young clinicians a special training program in basic research. Molecular medicine focuses on the role of genes and gene products to better understand, treat or prevent severe diseases. Based on this research, MDC scientists and clinicians jointly aim at developing new methods for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cardiovascular and neurological diseases. They work with modern molecular biological methods within all research programs of the MDC. These areas of research are:

  • Cardiovascular and metabolic diseases
  • Function and Dysfunction of the nervous system


The MDC also collaborates with the University Clinic Benjamin Franklin in Berlin Steglitz, Max Planck Institutes and other scientific institutions in Germany and abroad. It also closely works together with the " Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP)" on the Campus.


Friedrich C. Luft is the director of the Experimental and Clinical Research Center, a joint endeavour established by the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and the Charité – Universitätsmedizin, in Berlin, Germany. Professor Luft has recently received the Novartis Award for Hypertension Research from the American Heart Association in Tuscon, Arizona, USA. He was honored for his research on the genetic causes of hypertension, the effects of perturbed electrolyte homeostasis, and the mechanisms of resulting target-organ damage. The award, worth $20,000, is the most important prize in hypertension research given by the American Heart Association and the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis each year.



Figure 1: Structure of the ECRC in Berlin


Nuernberg – Erlangen

The Clinical Research Centre of the University of Erlangen-Nuernberg has a particular focus in hypertension and hypertension related target organ damage. It is part of the University’s Department of Nephrology & Hypertension, the largest department of its kind in Germany. Supported by funds from the German Research Society (DFG), the German counterpart of the Australian NHMRC, the centre has grown substantially over the last few years and is involved in basic, experimental and clinical research. Areas of research include regulation of the renin-angiotensin system and genetic variations, the role of the endothelium in hypertension development, and hemodynamic regulation with a particular focus on the involvement of the kidneys. The group has pioneered methodology to assess endothelial function of the retinal vasculature in humans using online “scanning laser Doppler flowmetry”, as well as assessment of renal endothelial function by means of clearance studies during blockade of NO synthase. In collaboration with Siemens Medical Solutions, the headquarters of which are also based in Erlangen, there is also a strong focus on novel imaging techniques to better detect and quantify quantify target organ damage such as fibrosis.


Professor Roland Schmieder is the head of the CRC who is also heavily involved in large national and international trials such as ONTARGET, VALUE, OCTAVE, ROADMAP and others.



FRED MENDELSOHN'S FESTSCHRIFT from Siew Yeen Chai, Patrick Sexton and Andrew Allen

1st and 2nd of December, 2008

Professor Fred Mendelsohn will be retiring from the Directorship of the Howard Florey Institute at the end of 2008. To mark this occasion a scientific meeting to celebrate Fred’s contribution to health and medical research in Australia and internationally is going to be held at the Howard Florey Institute, University of Melbourne.


The scientific program will encompass the fields that have attracted Fred’s interest and endeavour and will include Neuroscience and neurological diseases, Cardiovascular regulation in health and disease, Endocrinology and G-protein-coupled receptors. The program of basic and clinical science presentations promises to be an informative and current discussion of the research areas supported by Fred.


The meeting will be held in the lecture theatre of the Howard Florey Institute on the 1st and 2nd of December, 2008. This is immediately prior to the scientific meeting of the Australian High Blood Pressure Research Council.  A dinner will be held on the evening of the 1st of December.


Further information regarding registration and details of the scientific program is available at the following web address http://fredschrift.florey.edu.au. Expressions of interest in attending the conference can be emailed to fredschrift@florey.edu.au. All are welcome to attend.




9 – 12 December 2008, India

The 2nd Cardiovascular Control Conference will be held at Temple Bay Resort, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India, 60 km south of Chennai on 9th to 12 December 2008. The time has been set so that you have time to travel there after the HBPRC meeting.


Scientific theme: Neural, hormonal and renal interactions in cardiovascular control.


If you are interested in attending you can register and book rooms at the conference hotel (Temple Bay Resort) on the conference website http://cccindia08.florey.edu.au


We have received funding support from Data Sciences International and Telemetry Systems to provide travel stipends of $1000 to young investigators who submit abstracts for the meeting. We will shortly be sending out an email asking for applications. Please contact me if you are interested and are not on the conference email list.


For any further information contact Clive May clive.may@florey.edu.au




$326.2 million over four years to fund new Future Fellowships to attract and retain Australia's mid-career researchers. This will help support Australia's research and innovation capacity and the development of new knowledge, products and services in areas of national importance. The Future Fellowships program will offer four-year fellowships valued at up to $140,000 a year to 1,000 of Australia's top researchers in the middle of their career. In addition, each researcher's institution will receive up to $50,000 per annum to support the purchase of related infrastructure and equipment for their research project.


The Government will provide $209.0 million over four years to double the number of postgraduate scholarships available to higher degree (PhD and Masters) research students from 4,800 to 9,600 by 2012. This will result in nearly 25 per cent of commencing higher degree research students having access to income support.


The Government will provide $500.0 million in 2007-08 to Australian universities as a contribution towards capital investment in five priority areas including IT communications in research and teaching, laboratories, libraries and places to study, teaching spaces, and critical student amenities. The measure will begin to address past capital under investment in these priority areas. Funding will be distributed among universities through grants taking into account each university's share of funds under the existing Institutional Grant Scheme and its share of total domestic students.


The Government will reallocate funding of $304.0 million from the Higher Education Endowment Fund in 2008-09 for disbursement from the new Education Investment Fund in 2009-10, bringing total funding in that year to $608.0 million. The Higher Education Endowment Fund will be closed and its assets subsumed in the Education Investment Fund. The funding has been reprofiled in order that allocations can be directed following the completion of the Higher Education Review. The Education Investment Fund will fund capital expenditure in Australia's higher education institutions. 


$625.8 million will be provided to encourage more students to study maths and science and take up related occupations. The Government will provide $625.8 million to encourage more students to study maths and science and pursue related careers. From 1 January 2009, HECS for commencing maths and science students will be reduced from $7,260 to $4,077 (the national priority rate). This reflects the national importance of maths and science and aims to encourage more students to study these disciplines. New maths and science graduates will also be eligible for a 50 per cent reduction in their HECS repayments if they pursue a career in the field, including teaching. This will help ensure that more graduates stay in maths and science professions following graduation. Students graduating from the second semester 2008 will be eligible for the reduction.


The Government will provide $238.6 million over four years from 2008-09 for the Scholarships for a Competitive Future program, to increase the number of higher education graduates in areas of skills shortages. The measure will double the number of students receiving Commonwealth Scholarships from 44,000 to 88,000 by 2012. Further, two new scholarship categories will be created:

o         The National Priority Scholarship will be available for students enrolled in undergraduate degrees in identified priority areas such as nursing, teaching, science and engineering; and 

o         The National Accommodation Scholarship will be made available for students who have to relocate interstate to study specialist courses not available in their home state. 


$37.8 million over five years to establish the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative. Funding for this measure will be provided from the redirection of funds from the Research Quality Framework. The ERA will assess research quality using a combination of metrics and expert review by committees comprising experienced, internationally-recognised experts. It will enable Australia's academic achievements to be more readily measured against peers around the world. 


The Health and Hospitals Fund will finance the renewal and refurbishment of the nation's hospitals and health facilities and fund major medical research projects with $10 billion.


Government research funding



estimated expenditure

$ ’000



$ ’000

% Increase/decrease

Australian Research Council (ARC)



4.17% increase

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)



2.18% increase

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)



4.03% decrease*


·         Largely due to the 3.24% efficiency dividend



HBPRCA Secretariat

Athina Patti at

Meetings First

t               61 3 9739 7697

f               61 3 9739 7076

e              hbprca@meetingsfirst.com.au

w             www.hbprca.com.au



HBPRCA would like to acknowledge the support of the following companies:









ISH 2008 – The 22nd Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Hypertension

14 – 19 June 2008

Click here for meeting website


13th International SHR Symposium

20 - 22 June 2008

Prague, Czech Republic
Click here for meeting website


Heart and Mind Psychogenic Cardiovascular Disease Conference

3 – 5 September 2008

Prato, Tuscany

Click here for meeting website


2nd International Symposium on Pheochromocytoma

17 – 20 September 2008
Queens College, Cambridge

Click here for meeting website


Annual Scientific Meeting of the British Hypertension Society
24 – 26 September 2008
Queen’s College, Cambridge

Click here for meeting website

Japanese Society of Hypertension Annual Scientific Meeting, celebrating it's 30th anniversary

***HBPRCA members receive discounted registration fees***

9 - 11 October 2008
Royton Sapporo (Sapporo, Hokkaido Pref.), Japan

Click here for meeting website


4th AH & MR Congress

16 - 21 November 2008
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
Click here for meeting website


HBPRCA 2008 Annual Scientific Meeting

3 – 5 December 2008

Melbourne Exhibition Centre

Click here for meeting website.