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Wales Heart Research Institute (WHRI)

Cardiovascular research from within Cardiff University and the University Hospital Wales.

Cardiovascular disease and its associated conditions are the biggest causes of death and disability in the UK.

Common risk factors include smoking, lack of exercise, obesity, diabetes, family history, high blood pressure and ethnic background. A common theme for many of these conditions is vascular inflammation caused by immune activation.

Cardiff University hosts a number of research programmes in Cardiovascular research (totalling some £7.7M of active grants) and related areas, we also work closely with colleagues at Cardiff Metropolitan University and directly collaborate with the NHS through our links with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

The Sir Geraint Evans Fund for Cardiovascular Research exists within Cardiff University to support and enhance our efforts in these fields. The fund works through recruiting new group leads and training our basic scientists and clinicians through higher degrees and fellowships. The fund is managed by senior cardiovascular academic leads through the Wales Heart Research Institute Committee.

All donations are gratefully received.

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Our research programmes are aimed at bettering our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the various forms of cardiovascular disease with the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes through the development of better therapies.

Using model systems and patient/population based approaches, we conduct research that covers many of the key areas involved including:

  • Vascular inflammation and the signals controlling this.
  • Role of lipids (fats).
  • Clotting problems.
  • Infection.
  • Links between Cardiovascular disease and other vascular inflammatory diseases such as asthma, diabetes and arthritis.

We are also seeking to understand normal heart development and function together with employing computational and engineering approaches to help develop new devices and monitoring methods for cardiovascular disease.


There is a vast amount of cardiovascular research conducted at Cardiff University.

Our research activities

Prof Valerie O'Donnell,
Prof Peter Collins 
Lipids and the mechanisms of blood clotting.
Prof Peter Collins Cardiovascular system and child birth.
Dr Dipak Ramji Inflammation and functional foods in cardiovascular disease.
Dr Tim Hughes Relationship between the immune system and cardiovascular disease.
Dr Branko Latinkic Heart muscle cells and regenerative medicine.
Prof Daniela Riccardi Relationship between asthma and chronic bronchitis and the cardiovascular system.
Dr William Ford Cardiovascular Pharmacology.
Prof Omer Rana Data processing in sensors and specialist health care devices.
Dr Ann Ager Cell satnavs and blood vessel repair.
Prof Gary Baxter Heart muscle injuries and obstructions.
Prof Timothy Rainer Blood movement and cardiac events.
Dr Dimitris Parthimos Investigations at the cellular level.
Prof Ernest Choy,
Dr Anwen Williams
Tissue morphology and vasculopathology.
Prof Sam Evans Soft tissue mechanics.
Dr Peter Theobald Mechanics of Cardiovascular Tissue.
Computational models and blood circulation. 
Chest compressions. 
Dr Derek Lang Cardiovascular Disease and Arthritis.
Dr Aled Rees Fat Cells and Blood Vessels.
Dr Sivakumar Kulasegaram Blood flow modelling.
Dr Allan Mason-Jones Blood flow modelling relating to cardiovascular conditions.
Dr Anne-Catherine Raby Inflammatory mechanisms responsible for cardiovascular disease in patients with kidney disease.
Dr Madj ProttyTargeting procoagulant membranes, interventional cardiology, thrombosis and cardiovascular outcomes
Dr Richard Anderson Blood clotting and interventional cardiology.
Dr Tim Kinnaird Blood supplies and blood clotting.
Dr Zaheer Yousef Heart failure.
Dr Ian McDowell Genes and Heart Disease.
Prof Peter Elwood OBE Aspirin and a healthy lifestyle.
Prof Craig Currie The effect of drugs on cardiovascular events.


Our research is generating impact through changing clinical practice and leading to design of new drugs.

Help for women at childbirth

Over the last 7 years Prof Peter Collins, in collaboration with Cardiff and Vale UHB, has led research into bleeding at the time of childbirth. His work has resulted in an All Wales Quality Improvement Programme (QIP) that is rolling out the findings of the research to all maternity units in the country. The QIP is called OBS Cymru and is running from 2016-2019.

It is a collaboration of midwives, anaesthetists, obstetricians and haematologists from across Wales. The aim is to replicate the improved outcomes seen in Cardiff throughout Wales. The work is funded by a Welsh Government 'Efficiency through technology fund' grant, 1000 Lives, The Welsh Deanery and NHS Wales. The industry partner is Instrumentation Laboratories, part of the Werfen group.

Developing new drugs to treat vascular inflammation

Studies from the O’Donnell group have contributed to development of CXA-10 (a nitrolipid) which is currently undergoing Phase II clinical trials for several vascular inflammatory conditions (including chronic and acute kidney injury, sickle cell disease and pulmonary arterial hypertension) and is licenced to Complexa Inc, Pittsburgh.  Complexa completed over $13M Series B financing for development of CXA-10 in 2014, and it is currently advancing through FDA approved trials.

Optimising and personalising pace-makers: creation of clinic at UHW and potential for elsewhere

Post-implant optimisation of biventricular pacemaker settings (Dr Dewi Thomas, Dr Zaheer Yousef).

Biventricular pacing is an established treatment for some patients with heart failure. However, currently only 60-70% of patients receiving this treatment gain optimal benefits from this therapy. Dr Dewi Thomas’ MD project examined the role of optimisation of pacemaker settings to ‘finetune’ device therapy to each individual patient.

The results showed that up to 50% of patients who initially failed to respond, could be converted to responders. A dedicated device follow-up clinic has now been established at the University Hospital of Wales to identify and treat non-responders to biventricular pacemakers.

Pace-makers and high risk heart surgery: change to management of surgical patients across Wales

Role of temporary epicardial biventricular pacing in patients undergoing high-risk cardiac surgery (Dr Stuart Russell, Dr Zaheer Yousef).

Pre-operative cardiac function is a powerful predictor of survival following cardiac surgery. Given the proven haemodynamic (blood movement) benefits of biventricular pacing in patients with stable heart failure, Dr Russell’s MD project evaluated the role of biventricular pacing in patients undergoing high-risk cardiac surgery.

The study involved inserting temporary epicardial (heart muscle) pacing wires at the time of surgery which were connected to an external pacing device. In the first 12 hours after surgery (the highest risk period), while patients were nursed in the intensive care unit, patients’ haemodynamic responses were compared in different pacing configurations.

The results suggested that this strategy could improve cardiac function by at least 10%. This has led to an increased awareness of this strategy, which cardiac surgeons are using routinely.

Next steps


Research that matters

Our research makes a difference to people’s lives as we work across disciplines to tackle major challenges facing society, the economy and our environment.


Postgraduate research

Our research degrees give the opportunity to investigate a specific topic in depth among field-leading researchers.


Our research impact

Our research case studies highlight some of the areas where we deliver positive research impact.