This prize is the most prestigious research award to young investigators by the CSANZ, and was awarded to Dr Murtha at the 2019 CSANZ Annual Scientific Meeting in Adelaide on August 10, 2019.
Dr Murtha is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the School of Medicine and Public Health whose work involves understanding the molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular health with the ultimate aim of developing effective treatments for patients suffering from cardiovascular disease.
Dr Murtha won the award for her research exploring the molecular mechanisms of cardiac fibrosis, a devastating consequence of almost every cardiac disease, for which existing treatment options are inadequate. Her work explores pre-clinical models of cardiovascular disease with an aim to understand and examine treatment options for the devastating effects of heart scarring.
Cardiovascular disease remains one of the world’s biggest killers. Dr Murtha aims to improve the outcomes of people with cardiovascular disease through targeted treatments.
At an early-career stage, Dr Murtha is already highly awarded. She was a 2018 finalist for the University of Newcastle Alumni awards, and has twice been a finalist for the Cardiovascular Research Network's Ministerial Rising Star Award. Her PhD thesis abstract was nominated by the University of Newcastle to be published in the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales, her PhD was supported by an Emlyn and Jennie Thomas Postgraduate Medical Research Scholarship and she has been awarded a prestigious, merit-based Endeavour Fellowship by the Australian Government.
During her PhD, Dr Murtha collaborated with a team at the University of Glasgow on a project where it was discovered that the major cause of elevated pressure after stroke was not due to brain swelling, as previously thought. This work led to a high impact journal publication which was awarded Best Research Higher Degree Publication of the Month, and of the Year, at the RHD Excellence Awards in 2015.
The Ralph Reader Prize was first presented in 1980 as the Young Investigators Award. It was named after Dr Ralph Reader, Medical Director and Chief Executive of the National Heart Foundation from 1961 to his retirement in 1980.