Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Heart Foundation Chair of Heart Health

Professor Rob Doughty


Heart Foundation Chair of Heart Health, University of Auckland

Cardiologist, Greenlane Cardiovascular Service, Auckland District Health Board

Heart Foundation

The establishment of the Chair of Heart Health was the culmination of an enormous fundraising effort by the Heart Foundation which created a $5 million endowment fund.

Heart Health Research

Professor Doughty reports

Heart Health Research

Heart disease has been a major focus of research at The University of Auckland for the last 40+ years. In 2011, Professor Doughty  was appointed as the inaugural Heart Foundation Chair of Heart Health at the University of Auckland. The goal of this Chair has been to develop a research hub focusing on improving our understanding of heart disease and practical strategies to improve heart health for all New Zealanders.

The clinical healthcare environment providing for people with heart disease is now well coordinated in the regions and across the country, supported by the National Cardiac Network. National cardiac registries and quality improvement programmes, such as ANZACS-QI led by Honorary Associate Professor Andrew Kerr, are now well established. Research continues at a pace and this website provides information on people and individual research projects associated with the Chair of Heart Health.

The clinical and quality improvement activities across New Zealand now lead to an exciting new era for heart research in New Zealand – registry-based clinical research studies and trials. Such registry studies have the power to address important questions and recruit large numbers of patients representative of the population, with minimal additional workload. Importantly, these studies can be undertaken at a substantially lower cost than standard clinical research studies. While an exciting opportunity and with proven success overseas, these studies introduce new challenges and will require rapid adaptation of research methodologies to ensure high quality results.

Our research studies are focused in key themes within the life course of cardiovascular disease and priority populations. These studies represent a broad reach across community, population and clinical arenas, with administrative and functional structure embedded at the University of Auckland. The research involves multiple collaborations, which are fundamental to the success of contemporary research.

The Heart Health Research Group have close working relationships with staff at Auckland City Hospital, particularly the in-patient and out-patient services of the Greenlane Cardiovascular Service. This relationship is facilitated by the Auckland Academic Health Alliance between The University of Auckland and Auckland District Health Board (http://www.aaha.org.nz).

Current people and projects


Assoc Professor Malcolm Legget, leads studies relating to cardiovascular genomics, biomarkers and imaging to more accurately predict cardiovascular risk and personalise therapy. He is the principal investigator on MENZACS (Multi Ethnic New Zealand Acute Coronary Syndrome Study) , and a co-investigator on the National Science Challenge Healthier Lives project for equitable CVD and diabetes risk prediction. He is also involved in research related to the use of digital technology to enhance medical student teaching in cardiology, and the use of biosensors to assist in diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.

Dr Katrina Poppe

Dr Katrina Poppe, Senior Research Fellow, has expertise in clinical cardiac physiology and medical statistics, and her research bridges cardiovascular medicine, advanced clinical technology, data science, applied statistics and epidemiology, with applications ranging from public health to advanced cardiology. Current research themes are improving the accuracy of cardiovascular risk assessment and management at the level of the individual.

Dr Anna Rolleston

Dr Anna Rolleston, is the Director of the Centre for Health (Bay of Plenty) and previously Heart Foundation Māori Cardiovascular Fellow and Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand Indigenous Fellow. Anna initially established the Cardiac Clinic to help people manage their health conditions through lifestyle improvements, including exercise, nutrition and stress management. She has a range of interest areas including heart disease, Māori health, ageing and lifestyle management of health, and is currently leading a kaupapa Māori approach to risk reduction for Māori in the Bay of Plenty.

Dr Nikki Earle

Dr Nikki Earle, Heart Foundation Fellow studies uses DNA- and RNA-based technologies to investigate the causes of coronary artery disease and increase the accuracy of risk assessment for people with both subclinical and established coronary artery disease. She also has a research interest in the genetic basis of inherited heart diseases such as long QT syndrome and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and methods for detecting and diagnosing these conditions with the aim of preventing sudden death.


Dr Sarah Fitzsimons, was appointed as cardiologist at the Green Lane Cardiovascular Service (ADHB) in August 2017, and has  a part-time academic appointment at The University of Auckland with the Heart Health Research Group. She held a Heart Foundation Overseas Training and Research Fellowship (2016/2017) which supported a fellowship at Papworth Hospital, UK, where she completed her advanced training in heart transplantation, and she now has subspeciality appointment as a heart transplant specialist at ADHB. She is currently studying for a PhD.


Multi-Ethnic New Zealand Study of Acute Coronary  Syndromes (MENZACS


Key collaborations



Professor Mark Richards, and the Christchurch Heart Institute (CHI). The close working relationship between the two Heart Foundation Chairs has a long-standing basis which has developed over 20+ years of collaboration. This collaboration has seen success in a number of studies (cohort studies and trials) involving many different patient groups, and continues with studies supported through a new Health Research Council programme grant held by the CHI.


  • Honorary Associate Professor Gerry Devlin, Waikato Hospital
  • Dr Mayanna Lund, Middlemore Hospital
  • Honorary Associate Professor Andrew Kerr, Middlemore Hospital
  • Professor Rod Jackson, VIEW/PREDICT, University of Auckland
  • Professor Ngaire Kerse, LILACS NZ, School of Population Health  


Professor Iain Squire, University of Leicester, UK.  Professor Richard Hobbs, Oxford University, UK

Professor Mark Richards and Professor Carolyn Lam, Singapore


Professor Doughty is the Heart Foundation Chair of Heart Health; Dr Katrina Poppe was a former Heart Foundation post-doctoral fellow; Dr Nikki Earle is a Heart Foundation Post-doctoral Fellow. Information regarding Heart Foundation grants is available here. 

The research activites of the Chair of Heart Health are supported by research grants and awards from the Heart Foundation of New Zealand, Health Research Council of New Zealand, Health Research Council of NZ/A*STAR International Investment Opportunities Fund, The TM Hosking Trust, Auckland Medical Research Foundation, Green Lane Research and Education Fund, Waikato Medical Research Foundation.  See Giving to Auckland