Development & Alumni Relations Office 

£340,000 funding boost for Queen’s heart researchers

Heart scientists at Queen’s University have been awarded prestigious grants of more than £340,000 by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) as part of a multi-million pound boost for research in the UK. BHF Northern Ireland announced the funding as part of Support Our Science (SOS) month – a month long celebration of the charity’s life-saving research.

The new grants were announced as your heart charity sends out a call to support heart science. The BHF is the single biggest independent funder of cardiovascular research in the UK. Last year, it gave more than £88m to research at Universities and hospitals all over the UK.

Queen’s University Belfast is a leading centre for heart disease research in Northern Ireland.   In the past five years, it has received more than £1.4m of funding from BHF Northern Ireland for vital life-saving science.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF said: “We are very pleased to be announcing a number of research awards in Northern Ireland this June, when we are sending out an ‘SOS’ to ask the public to Support Our Science.

“We couldn’t fund the UK’s leading scientists like the teams at Queens University without you. Thanks to all of those in Northern Ireland who are helping us through volunteering, donations or fundraising – your support is giving real hope of finding new treatments for heart patients.”

Professor James McElnay, Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduates said: “Heart and circulatory disease are major killers within the UK and this research at Queen’s, funded by the British Heart Foundation, is literally life-saving work. Without the support of organisations like the BHF our scientists would not be able to make the discoveries they do, many of which go on to have such a positive impact on all of our lives.”

The grants awarded to Queen’s include £182, 289 for Professor J Graham McGeown and Dr Tim Curtis for a study looking at the effect of bursts of calcium – called ‘calcium sparks’ – on veins and small arteries called arterioles. These calcium sparks are known to help regulate the stiffness of blood vessels, which affects blood pressure, but interestingly seem to have different effects in arterioles and veins than they do in larger arteries. This team’s discoveries could lead to a new understanding of natural blood pressure regulation.

A further £161,630 was awarded to Dr Curtis, Professor  McGeown  and Professor  Alan Stitt . They hope to help find new ways of treating disease of the eye caused by mistakes in the development of new blood vessels – an area they are experts in. By improving our understanding of how blood vessels form and grow, this work may also inform strategies to mend broken hearts after heart attack.

To find out more about SOS month at BHF Northern Ireland visit

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