What are your research interests?
My research involves evaluating the use of new treatments and technologies that may lead to improved health and outcomes for patients experiencing heart disease. My major clinical research interests are:
- The use of injected adult stem cells as an adjunctive treatment for acute and chronic heart conditions, such as heart attack and congestive heart failure. Stem cells derived from healthy donors or a patient's own bone marrow may assist the body’s natural processes for remodeling of ailing heart muscle, reduce ongoing damage and therefore improve heart function and reduce symptoms.
- “Renal denervation” where a radio-frequency catheter is used to interrupt the sympathetic nerve supply to the kidneys. This is an adjunctive treatment for patients with high blood pressure which is resistant to standard treatments, and may be useful in improving symptoms for patients with chronic heart failure.
- Comparing methods of revascularisation of coronary arteries in patients with stable ischaemic heart disease.
- The safety and efficiency of a recent technique where severely diseased aortic heart valves are replaced in the Cardiac Cath Lab, using a catheter-mounted aortic valve, as opposed to patients undergoing surgical replacement. This technique is called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement.
Why did you get into research?
The impetus behind my passion in combining research with my daily cardiology practice was the early death of my mother from heart disease. To be able to contribute to the advancement of knowledge of heart disease and to directly evaluate new treatments that may improve and prolong patients' lives is personally fulfilling and powerful.
What would be the ultimate goal for your research?
My ultimate goal would be to improve and initiate technological advances in interventional cardiology which will improve patient outcomes in the Hunter and beyond.
After studying medicine at Sydney University, Dr Suku Thambar underwent specialist training in cardiology at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, and Rhode Island Hospital in the United States, where he completed a two-year interventional cardiology fellowship under the direction of the eminent David O. Williams.
In 2000, Dr Thambar relocated to the Hunter with his family, where he continues to practice cardiology in the private and public health sectors. He holds a conjoint appointment of Senior Staff Interventional Cardiologist at the John Hunter Hospital, and Senior Lecturer of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Newcastle.
Dr Thambar is also a Visiting Medical Officer at Newcastle Private Hospital and director of the Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory at Mayo Private Hospital, Taree. In addition, he has for many years been providing cardiac catheterisation services as a "flying doctor" at Tamworth Base Hospital.
A key component of his clinical practice is ongoing involvement in clinical research. Over the past 15 years, Dr Thambar has participated in many commercially sponsored clinical trials (local and international), physician-initiated studies, bio-repository projects and data registries. His research has received competitive funding from the HNE Charitable Trust Fund, the support of HMRI, as well as industry support and sponsorship.
With is involvement in adult stem cell trials, Dr Thambar directs an emerging area of investigation, the highlights of which include enrolling the first patient in the inaugural randomised placebo-controlled trial of intra-myocardial bone marrow injection to relieve intractable angina (Angiogenesis I: Protect CAD).
Since 2007, Dr Thambar has participated as Principal Investigator for a series of interesting catheter-based studies, which are first-in-man trials of radiofrequency ablation of the renal sympathetic nerves in patients with resistant hypertension. Early efficacy and the safety of the technique were established by these trials, leading to the TGA registration of the device in Australia. In continuation of this work, he was successful in establishing the fledgling Renal Denervation Program at the John Hunter Hospital in 2012.
- General and Interventional Cardiology
- Diagnostic Cardiac Catheterisation (right and left sided)
- Percutaneous Coronary Intervention
- Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS)
- Cardiac biopsy and aortic balloon valvuloplasty
- Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)
- Renal angiography and renal denervation (accredited operator Spryral catheter)
- LVAD - Impella cardiac support system
- Left Atrial Appendage Closure - Watchman device.
- Experience in exploratory studies and clinical trials phase II-IV.
- Experience as Principal Investigator, Co-ordinating Principal Investigator (lead site for ethics supervision) and Sub-Investigator.
- Good Clinical Practice training.
- Transcatheter Mitral Valve Replacement
- NOGA myocardial mapping.