Dr Anthony Ashton graduated with a PhD from UNSW and spent 12 years developing his skills in cardiovascular research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. During this time, he developed an interest in how the growth of new blood vessels could rescue the heart after a heart attack and mechanisms that promote damage to the heart during a heart attack.

Since his return to the Kolling Institute in 2007, his research has focused on how the abnormal reaction of maternal blood vessels can predispose a woman to life threatening complications during pregnancy. For most women pregnancy ends with delivery of a healthy baby to a healthy mother. However, for approximately 20% of Australian women do not have this fairy-tale ending to their pregnancy. Complications of pregnancy (like pre-eclampsia and growth restriction) are not only an immediate threat to the life of mother and baby, but also enhance their life-long cardiovascular risk and predispose them to complications like hypertension, renal failure and heart failure.

It is for these women, who’s happiest moments are scarred by uncertainty and loss, that we do the research that we do. The ability to offer early detection and treatment options to women with pregnancy complications is the beacon of hope in a very bleak therapeutic landscape without options.

To this end our recent Heart Research Australia funding has allowed us to begin developing new tests and drugs to treat these conditions with the hope of offering real-world solutions to these problems in the near future.”

Our goal is to develop the next generation of cures and diagnostics that will mean no woman has to feel the sense of desperation and loss associated with problematic pregnancies.

Latest Research

Is pre-eclampsia in pregnancy related to pregnancy induced heart failure?

Lead Researcher:  Dr Anthony Ashton Most pregnancies end with the birth of a healthy baby to a healthy mother; however, some pregnancies end in unforeseen and currently untreatable complications. Unfortunately, the signs that something is wrong in these pregnancies appear to be “normal” for most women at the end of pregnancy.  Headaches, swelling and difficulty

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Is Pre-eclampsia in pregnancy related to peri-partum cardiomyopathy?

Most pregnancies result in the birth of a healthy baby to a healthy mother; however, some pregnancies experience unforeseen, and currently untreatable, complications. One of the most severe complications that can manifest in pregnancy is peri-partum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) whose cause is unknown. However, 50% of PPCM patients experience pre-eclampsia, while only 5% of the general pregnant population develop this condition of high blood pressure during pregnancy. We therefore believe the cause of PPCM and pre-eclampsia is linked.

Over the last year we have determined that the trigger for pre-eclampsia is a receptor whose activation disrupts placental growth and development. We believe that targeting this receptor will offer the first viable treatment to identify and manage patients who will develop pre-eclampsia and PPCM.