International partnership plans to tackle chronic diseases

Three in ten people in Scotland, and one in three people in the world, die from heart and circulatory diseases^. The epidemics of obesity, cardiometabolic and autoimmune diseases are threatening the sustainability of health systems worldwide. Our new partnership with the Charles Perkins Centre, Sydney is enabling staff from opposite sides of the world to share and build on expertise to tackle chronic diseases, common to both.

Despite Sydney and Glasgow being over 10,000 miles apart, colleagues from the Charles Perkins Centre (CPC) and Glasgow’s College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences (MVLS) connected virtually in a series of three symposia held last year. Symposiums focused on gender differences in cardiovascular diseases, inflammation and looking beyond traditional risk factors. These were well attended and demonstrated the enthusiasm between both partners to continue working together.

Prof Stephen J Simpson photographed on the stairs at the Charles Perkins CentreTo enable further engagement, the two partners signed an MoU to celebrate and formalise the collaboration. At the MoU signing, Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre, set out the challenge ahead: "We need new models of disease prevention and treatment that build upon the emerging science indicating the shared biology of many chronic diseases, ageing - and susceptibility to infectious diseases."

"Pulling this off requires partners who have deep expertise, disciplinary breadth and who understand how to work across disciplines. The CPC and the College of MVLS are such partners and I look forward to an exciting future together."

Future research collaborations

"We share values, curiosity and a complementary focus so are very much looking forward to collaborating with our colleagues in Sydney."

Future plans are to establish new collaborations between staff in complimentary research areas such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. When possible, staff and student exchanges will increase the range of collaborative activities. In the meantime, opportunities for joint PhD studentships are being pursued to strengthen our partnership and enable high profile impactful research outputs.

Collaborations are already forming. Professors Christopher Loughrey (University of Glasgow) and John O’Sullivan (University of Sydney) were recently awarded a grant for $399,000 (AUD) from the Heart Research Institute. This award is a direct result of the symposium series having provided a solid platform for the partnership and an opportunity for staff and early career researcher exchange.

We share values, curiosity, and a complementary focus

Professor Iain McInnes, Vice Principal and Head of College of MVLS, commented: "The College of MVLS is delighted to establish this exciting new partnership with the Charles Perkins Centre - an internationally renowned, multidisciplinary, research and education hub that uses a complex-systems approach to tackling chronic diseases. We share values, curiosity and a complementary focus so are very much looking forward to collaborating with our colleagues in Sydney."

"Together, we can create a superb platform to make critical inroads into the understanding and management of chronic diseases that afflict society, to improve global health."

^British Heart Foundation, Scotland Factsheet, July 2021