Meet Professor Chris Semsarian
I established the Program in 2001. Our medical research is focused on genetic heart disease in young people, and how those findings can be translated into improving the care of patients. I split my time between Centenary, the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Sydney University.
During my time as a cardiologist, I’ve seen hundreds of patients and their families. A particular case which sticks in my mind involved a healthy woman in her early 20s who had been experiencing heart palpitations while playing netball. After determining the genetic cause behind her heart problems, we also learned her brother had died suddenly playing rugby in the UK about 15 years earlier, and the family had never found out why.
After analysing a single piece of tissue left from her brother’s post-mortem, we discovered he carried the same genetic change as his sister and had died from a cardiomyopathy. The family was so grateful to have some degree of closure. The gene result has also been used by his sister to have preimplantation genetic diagnosis, so she’s since had two children guaranteed not to carry the gene mutation.
Outside work, I love to watch sport – especially the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL. They came from basic beginnings and are a team with heart – they never give up!