Our Research Strategy 2015–2020

Over the next five years we hope to fund over half a billion pounds of research to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all heart and circulatory diseases including:

Heart Attack and Stroke

Heart Attack Stats Heart Attack Stats

We are committed to supporting research so that no-one dies prematurely from heart and circulatory disease.

Jen's story

Jen was rushed to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh where a new blood test to diagnose a heart attack was being trialled.

“I’d been having chest pains for about a month but as a working mum, I put it down to stress, but then I collapsed at work. I'm genuinely so grateful that my heart attack was spotted – it meant I could get the treatment I needed.”

Jen was diagnosed with a heart attack and treated thanks to a BHF-funded clinical trial. Her heart attack would have been missed using the standard test. Through our new strategy we will fund more clinical trials to find better ways of treating patients with heart and circulatory disease.

Professor Michael Marber
King’s College London

BHF-funded research has already improved heart attack tests for people like Jen. We’re funding Professor Marber’s team to study a heart protein called MyC that may be even better for diagnosing heart attacks.

“The BHF is funding me through their new Translational Award to develop an even better test that will diagnose a heart attack accurately and more quickly than the current test.”

This new award is a vital part of our new strategy to help fund the research that could one day lead to new tests and treatments that benefit patients.

Find out more
Professor Marber

Heart Rhythm Disorders

Heart Failure


Heart Failure

Congenital Stats Rhythm Stats

Over the next five years, we’ll continue to enable world-leading scientists in regenerative medicine to collaborate to find ways of reversing heart failure.

Thanks to our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal, today we fund three Centres of Regenerative Medicine across the country. This has led to fruitful partnerships between researchers from a number of different universities who might otherwise be competing with each other.

Bronnach’s story

Bronnach used to be a hands-on mum, but now she can't even walk to the park because of the devastating effects of heart failure.

“I am extremely tired and I sleep for hours every day. There are days when I can't even think about doing anything or going anywhere with my family because I am so exhausted.”

“Will I live to see my youngest son go to school, or watch my boys grow up? Realistically, I don't know."

Dr Nicola Smart
BHF Ian Fleming Research Fellow Oxbridge BHF Centre of Regenerative Medicine

Dr Smart’s research looks at ways to encourage the heart to repair itself after damage. Funding cutting edge, lab-based research today is essential for developing the treatments of tomorrow.

“By collaborating with heart researchers across the country, I’m able to make sure that my research benefits from the input of scientists with different skills. We can help and learn from each other. Funding from the BHF has made working together possible.”

Over the next five years, we will continue to encourage collaboration among researchers and institutions.

Doctor Smart

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital Stats Congenital Stats

In the 1950s around eight out of ten babies born in the UK with a complex congenital heart condition died before their first birthday.

Today, thanks to advances in treatment and care that we helped fund, more than eight out of ten babies with congenital heart disease grow up to be adults.

BHF Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub developed the ‘switch’ procedure which is used to fix the heart of babies born with wrongly connected arteries.

Louis’ story

Louis was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries. His mum, Rhian, said:

“He was very pale when he was born because he wasn’t getting enough oxygen – the arteries in his heart were connected the wrong way round. He had his first operation when he was just ten days old and now he’s just a normal kid.”

“Without the past BHF funding into his condition, who knows how different his life would be?”

Find out more
BHF Professor Gianni Angelini
University of Bristol

Gianni Angelini is a professor of heart surgery.

“Many babies with such a serious condition as Louis don’t recover as well after surgery. They suffer injury to their young organs during such early operations. We can save their lives but that’s not the end of the story as they may need a second operation and continue to need help throughout their lives.”

By committing to stimulate more surgical research in our new strategy, we are making sure that we continue to improve the way we treat children born with heart defects, giving them the best chance of a quick and complete recovery.

Find out more
Doctor Smart

Heart Muscle Diseases

Muscle Disease Stats Muscle Disease Stats

The inherited condition hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the commonest form of heart muscle disease. It causes a thickening of the heart muscle. HCM often has no symptoms meaning it can go unnoticed until it causes a sudden death.

“The BHF funded my early work into the genetics of cardiomyopathy. We were able to turn our laboratory-based research into the first genetic testing service for HCM in the UK, meaning that parents, siblings and children of someone known to have the condition could find out if they had it too, and get help to prevent a crisis. The BHF funded this research every step of the way." — BHF Professor Hugh Watkins

Stephen’s story

“I was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy at the age of 19 when I was applying for university. I’d always been fit and into sport and never had any symptoms so it was an incredible shock to find out. I had a defibrillator fitted as a precaution, just in case I have a sudden cardiac arrest."

“I’d never even heard of my condition before I was diagnosed with it, but it was reassuring to know that the BHF had been funding research on it for decades – research that meant my family and I could get the help we needed.”
Find out more
BHF Professor Mathias Gautel
King’s College London
“My research, funded by the BHF, looks at the proteins in heart muscle that hold the tissue together, allowing it to beat and function correctly. It might seem a long way from treatment but without this sort of early stage research, we wouldn’t know where to begin when we try to develop treatments”

In our new research strategy, the BHF is committed to funding all types of research, from laboratory studies to large clinical trials. This means our funded researchers can continue to improve our understanding of the causes of disease that can lead to new avenues for treatment.

Find out more
Professor Marber

Abnormal Heart Rhythms

Rhythm Stats Rhythm Stats

Normally the heart’s natural pacemaker sends out regular electrical impulses. Atrial fibrillation (AF) causes those impulses to fire off from different places in the atria (the top chambers of the heart) in a disorganised way.

Symptoms can include palpitations, tiredness, shortness of breath, dizziness or feeling faint. AF can increase the risk of a blood clot forming inside the chambers of the heart, which can lead to a stroke.

Richard’s story

Richard developed the common heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation.

“When I grow up I want to be a doctor so I can fix Daddy.” -Alfie, Richard’s son and aspiring scientist.

We fund early career scientists and train them up to be the world-leading BHF Professors of the future. Our new strategy includes investing in new and better ways to keep the best scientists in heart research.

Find out more
BHF Professor Barbara Casadei
University of Oxford

BHF Professor Barbara Casadei studies AF and treats people with the condition too. Her research could lead to new treatments for AF.

“I’ve had funding from the BHF throughout my career. Without a supportive funder it's impossible to plan and carry out high quality research because there are just so many demands on your time as a doctor.”

“Yet, it's very important to encourage young clinicians to engage in research and make it part of their career. Clinicians gain insights from seeing patients in the wards and surgeries that inform the most important question: how can my research help people in the real world?”

Find out more
Doctor Smart

Our Strategy

Download our full strategy for fighting heart disease through research, or find out more here.