Important research update: tackling heart attack and stroke 

07 May 2021

Associate Professor Peter Psaltis and his research team are taking a revolutionary new approach to beating atherosclerosis: the build-up of fatty plaque inside the body’s arteries, which is the main underlying cause of heart attack and stroke. 

Professor Psaltis’ research is focussed on the development of plaque and the changes that take place in the outer layer of the artery wall (adventitia).  

 “As the main cause of heart attack and stroke, atherosclerosis is the leading cause of death worldwide and we need to better understand how it occurs to improve the ways we treat it – Professor Psaltis 

In a world first, Peter’s team discovered a population of “stem cells” nestled in the adventitia of arteries that originate from specialised stem cells in early embryonic life. These stem cells are called hemangioblasts. This study is using sophisticated experimental techniques and unique mouse models to investigate what happens to these hemangioblasts in different stages of atherosclerosis.    

 “This project will study these stem cells to determine how they cause plaque to form, so that we can develop new therapies that target these stem cells to more effectively treat atherosclerosis.” 

 This research could change the way scientists think about atherosclerosis and pave the way for the development and testing of new preventative treatments for atherosclerosis.” – Professor Psaltis 

This is just one of the research projects that our supporters and wider Jump Rope for Heart community have helped make a reality. To help make research like this a reality in the future, register your school to take part in Jump Rope for Heart. 


Researcher profile: Professor Psaltis 

Peter Psaltis is an Academic Cardiologist and Vascular Biologist. He holds NHMRC Career Development and National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowships administered through the Adelaide Medical School, and is Deputy Leader of the Heart and Vascular Program and Co-director of the Vascular Research Centre within the Lifelong Health Theme at SAHMRI, as well as being a consultant Interventional Cardiologist in the Central Adelaide Local Health Network. 

Associate Professor Psaltis has unique expertise across all three disciplines of basic, translational and clinical research, and leads bench-to-bedside projects spanning topics of developmental macrophage biology, vascular stem cells, inflammatory regulation of atherosclerosis, pharmacological modification of atherosclerosis and coronary plaque imaging.