A special event brought together Centre Director Professor Chris Semsarian AM, current and past staff, former patients, as well as donors and other dignitaries to celebrate the 20 year anniversary.
A series of talks, highlighting the many achievements of the Centre and its proud history of life-saving and life-changing break-throughs, took place during the anniversary celebration.
Included was a pre-recorded talk from Professor David Richmond AM, who played a critical role in the Centre’s initiation. He spoke of his vision for, and his role in, helping establish the Centre. He also provided his heartfelt gratitude to all those who had played a part in the Centre’s successes, which had far exceeded his initial expectations.
Other speakers at the event included Mr Joseph Carrozzi AM, Board Chair of the Centenary Institute; Professor Robyn Ward AM, Executive Dean and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney; former Centre researcher Associate Professor Jodie Ingles and current Centre researcher Dr Richard Bagnall.
Professor Semsarian said that it was a privilege to celebrate the Centre’s milestone anniversary.
“Over 120 researchers, clinicians and students have been a part of our Centre at some point during the past 20 years,” Professor Semsarian said.
“The combined effort of so many incredible individuals, together with backing from our enthusiastic donors and supporters, has meant that we’ve been able to reduce sudden cardiac death in our society and improve outcomes for many patients and their families.”
Reflecting on his 20 years as Centre leader, Professor Semsarian said that a large part of the Centre’s success was due to three core values underlying all activity and approaches – research excellence, honesty and integrity, and a team based culture.
“These three values are absolutely non-negotiable and have been instrumental in creating an environment where we can all operate as our very best selves,” he said
Professor Semsarian also outlined the importance of the three key organisations relevant to the Centre’s activities – the Centenary Institute, The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney.
“The integration and co-location of these three amazing organisations has been instrumental in every aspect of our Centre,” said Professor Semsarian.
“We see and treat our patients at the hospital, these patients then become our research subjects at Centenary, and this clinical and research knowledge is then taught to the next generation at the University. It’s the perfect cycle to accelerate science discoveries into clinical applications that benefit patients.”
One Centre patient at the event was Kath Mitchell who tragically lost her daughter Alison to sudden cardiac death over a decade ago. Kath and her daughter Martelle drove several hours from Cessnock to Sydney to be at the event in person. Kath said that the Centre and it’s critical work into genetic heart disease meant the world to her.
“These incredible people are doing incredible things to help overcome genetic heart disease and death in young people. The positivity, dedication and desire of Chris and the team to make a real difference is extraordinary and means so much to me and my family.”
Professor Semsarian said that although the Centre’s achievements over two decades was impressive, more work into better understanding genetic heart conditions was still required.
“We’ve identified specific genes responsible for causing sudden cardiac death in young people but we know that there are more genetic faults out there, just waiting to be found,” Professor Semsarian said. “Increased knowledge is key to improving care and clinical outcomes for patients and at-risk family relatives. That is what we remain focused on, placing the patient at the centre of everything that we do to improve and to save lives.”