Priority Clinical Centre for



Professor Andrew Boyle


Professor Andrew Boyle is a cardiologist who studies left ventricular remodeling, the process by which the heart weakens and becomes ineffective following heart attacks and with advancing age.
In particular, his research focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of fibrosis and stem cell function in the heart.

Research Leaders

James Leitch

Conjoint Associate Professor James Leitch

Clinical Research

Associate Professor James (Jim) Leitch was born and raised in Armidale NSW. He studied medicine at Sydney University and completed medical internship, residency and general medical training at Royal Newcastle Hospital. Currently he is head of the cardiology department at John Hunter Hospital.
He is an author of more than 81 peer reviewed articles/book chapters and is a clinical Associate Professor at the University of Newcastle.
Dr Leitch’s future focus is improving access to high cost and specialised treatments of cardiac arrhythmia in rural and regional areas.

A/Prof Aaron SverdlovAssociate Professor Aaron Sverdlov

Translational Research

Associate Professor Aaron Sverdlov is a cardiologist and researcher who has recently returned from spending 3 years at the Boston University School of Medicine as an NHMRC Fellow. He received his medical degree (MBBS) from the University of Adelaide, Australia in 2000.

Over 50% of the Australian population is obese, and a third has metabolic syndrome, or diabetes. Less well appreciated is that patients with metabolic disease manifest heart disease (MHD). Associate Professor Sverdlov aims to examine the mechanism(s) of diet-induced obesity and metabolic impairment in the pathogenesis of MHD.

Tony Quail

Conjoint Professor Tony Quail

Translational Research

Conjoint Professor Tony Quail's major research interests are cardiovascular and pulmonary physiology including exercise physiology.  In particular, how these complex systems are controlled and integrated in the central nervous system and what factors modulate them.

Professor Dirk Van Helden

Professor Dirk Van Helden

Fundamental Science Research

Professor Dirk van Helden is a senior researcher with the University of Newcastle’s Priority Clinical Centre for Cardiovascular Health (PCC CVH) and is the co-leader of the HMRI Cardiovascular program.
Specific research interests include heart pacemaking, the lymphatic system, vascular mechanisms including the role of the capillary endothelium and pericytes in various organs (heart, gastrointestinal tract, brain, lung) and brain cardiovascular and neuronal mechanisms in health and disease.

A/Prof Doan NgoAssociate Professor Doan Ngo

Translational Research

Associate Professor Doan Ngo graduated from the University of South Australia as a pharmacist (B. Pharm). Her PhD was completed at the Basil Hetzel Institute, TQEH and her research focussed on the pathogenesis of aortic valve disease and involved both clinical and translational research, including animal in vivo studies.

Obesity is highly prevalent in our society, affecting 3 out of 5 Australians. The most alarming statistics relate to the significant rise of overweight/obesity prevalence in the young adolescent population, with obesity-related complications such as diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases presenting decades earlier. Associate Professor Ngo's research focus is in obesity and its cardiometabolic complications with her central hypothesis being that impaired blood vessel function obese fat contributes to metabolic impairment.

Dr Lucy Murtha

Translational Research


Dr Murtha is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle. Dr Murtha’s current research interests involve understanding the molecular mechanisms of cardiac fibrosis, a devastating consequence of almost every cardiac disease, of which treatment options are inadequate. She is interested in using pre-clinical models of cardiovascular disease to find effective ways of reversing the devastating effects heart scarring.


Conjoint Professor Peter Fletcher

Conjoint Professor Peter Fletcher

Professor Fletcher is a nationally and internationally renowned cardiologist and researcher. He was responsible for pioneering ambulance paramedic-initiated heart attack treatments in Australia.
In 2014, he was recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list, and was awarded Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his significant service to cardiovascular medicine as a clinician and administrator, heart health programs and medical education.
He continues to see patients and supervise junior doctors at John Hunter Hospital.

Derek Laver

Associate Professor Derek Laver

Associate Professor Derek Laver's research focuses on the use of biophysical methods to study membrane transport and ion channel function. He uses electrophysiolological techniques to measure ion channel function. Channel function is analysed using markov theory to unravel and identify the complex mechanisms that control ion channels within cells.

David Cottee

Conjoint Associate Professor David Cottee

Associate Professor David Cottee is a Senior Staff Specialist Anaesthetist with special interests in Cardiothoracic Surgery at the John Hunter Hospital. Professor Cottee’s past research has included coronary blood flow reflex control modification by volatile anaesthetic agents.
His current research interests involve the effects of intravenous anaesthetic agents on physiological cardiorespiratory control systems during hypoxaemia.

Dr Kerry InderAssociate Professor Kerry Inder

Dr Kerry Inder is an associate professor of nursing with the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Newcastle (UoN). She has extensive experience in coronary care and cardiac rehabilitation, managing patients with multiple comorbidities, as well as research experience in chronic disease, including mental illness, multi-morbidity, ageing, rural health and health services research.

Geoff Ibister

Dr Geoff Isbister

Clinical Toxicology

Dr Isbister is a clinician researcher in clinical toxicology and his research has focused on understanding poisoning and envenoming in patients and undertaking studies to determine the effectiveness of antidotes and antivenoms in treatment of these conditions. He heads the Clinical Toxicology Research Group at the University.
He has published over 260 original research publications and holds an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship, is the Chief Investigator on an NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Venom and Antivenom Translation Research, as well as being Chief Investigator on an NHMRC Program Grant.

Suku Thambar

Dr Suku Thambar

Dr Suku Thambar undertook his specialist training in cardiology at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, NSW and Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, USA. He has since lived in the Hunter region where he practices as an interventional cardiologist in the private and public sectors.
Dr Thambar is an active clinical researcher who acknowledges the significance of research in contributing to the advancement of cardiology.
His major research interests are the use of adult stem cells in the management of acute and chronic cardiovascular diseases, and the emerging technology of renal artery denervation using catheter-based radio frequency ablation to manage conditions such as resistant hypertension and heart failure.

Koert De Waal

Conjoint Associate Professor Koert de Waal

Conjoint Associate Professor Koert de Waal is a full-time neonatal clinician with long-standing interest in clinical research. His track record started in the Academic Centre of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and continued as post graduate fellowship in Sydney, in order to learn functional echocardiography in neonates with world leaders in the field.
His PhD focused on functional echocardiography of the newborn with emphasis on heart-lung interactions, and was completed after his move to Newcastle.
He has published in numerous peer reviewed journals in his field and his work has led to several national and international speaking invitations. Improving understanding of newborn hemodynamics remains his main research goal.

Nicolas CollinsDr Nicolas Collins

Dr Nicholas Collins is a cardiologist with particular interest in congenital heart disease, pulmonary hypertension, interventional cardiology, focusing on coronary and interatrial interventions, and transoesophageal echocardiography.  In addition, Dr Collins is involved in both undergraduate and postgraduate medical education and is currently Director of the Coronary Care Unit at Lingard Private Hospital.